Down on the Farm: A study in lateness
"People are late because they want to be late," concludes Dr. Irving Snerdpoof, Phd., in his recently-published study, "An Inquiry Into the Motivations of the Perpetually Tardy."
The inspiration for Snerdpoof's most recent study struck like a bolt of lightning while he sat in a pew in church.
"It seemed that each Sunday, the same families would waltz in during the first hymn and march to the front pew," Snerdpoof said.
"I became convinced that if these families arrived at church early by accident, they would sit in the car and wait for the service to begin just so they could make their grand entrance."
Backed by financial support from the Institute for the Study of Inexplicable Human Behaviors (ISIHB), Snerdpoof spent two years researching the topic.
Snerdpoof's conclusions have largely been ignored by the latecomer community, but others have taken note.
"What I found is that, unconsciously or even consciously, people plan to be late in order to draw attention to themselves," Snerdpoof said.
"By showing up late, people show their superiority to an event such as church and demonstrate that their busy lives are way more important than the lives of the losers who arrived early," the professor added.
As Snerdpoof interviewed his subjects, he found himself developing more sympathy with their emotions and feelings. "I realized that I share some of their fears," he said. "I merely express them differently."
"For instance, who would ever want to be in the crowd that shows up a half-an-hour early for a co-op annual meeting just to make sure they get a donut?" Snerdpoof said.
"First of all, co-op annual meetings are a waste of time. Second of all, they serve donuts just so they can lure in a quorum. Third of all, they get people to stay for the entire boring meeting by giving away the grill at the end."
By definition, Snerdpoof argues, people who show up early for co-op annual meetings and new business open houses are the losingest losers of all.
"Although I would never darken the door of an annual meeting, there are events, like church, where I am obliged to put in an occasional appearance. And yet I still want to demonstrate that I am too good for those events to those who show up early because they have nothing better to do," he said.
"So, if there is no way for me to get out of attending, I demonstrate my superiority to the event and the losers attending it by showing up late," he concluded.
Lateness is a matter of perspective, Snerdpoof has come to believe.
"As irritating and morally lax as latecomers seem to the rest of us, many latecomers equate busyness with righteousness," he said. "They actually feel that by being late, they are showing their moral superiority!"
A solid 82 percent of latecomers interviewed agreed with the statement, "My life is busier, more dramatic and filled with more urgency than the life of anybody else I know."
Only 34 percent admitted to arranging to be late as a way of getting attention. That number expanded to 87 percent after a lie detector was attached to the subject's wrists.
With the use of hypnosis and electric shock, deeper findings emerged from the latecomers, Snerdpoof continued.
"Subjects were asked if they would choose a carefully planned and calm schedule if they had the option," Snerdpoof reported.
"A resounding 92 percent of latecomers under hypnosis admitted that a well-planned life of showing up everywhere in plenty of time would be a fate worse than death."
However, when brought out of the hypnotic state, only 5 percent admitted, even when under threat of electric shock, that constant lateness is an enduring facet of their sense of identity.
"What we're dealing with here is a subconscious reality that needs to be brought to light," Snerdpoof concluded.
"I hope that my study can create better understanding of latecomers by those who always show up on time," he added, "and perhaps a few latecomers will, if they have time to read the study, realize that their behavior looks more silly than righteous."