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“Dirty Harry” Revenge for People Who Come Late to Meetings

on February 10, 2015

Whenever I’m at a super popular restaurant, desperately waiting for a table, I jokingly threaten that I’m going to go up to the maître de, wave my finger high in the air, and demand they give me a table RIGHT NOW!

“Do you know who I am? DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!”

I know the restaurant host, waiters, and owners are sitting in the kitchen, looking at me, and laughing. They don’t know who they’re dealing with. I’ve got a .44 Magnum of nonexistent influence and intimidation locked and loaded. At any time I want, I could metaphorically say, “Feel lucky, well do ya punk?” and then blow them away.

It’s never ever going to happen.

It’s a “Dirty Harry” fantasy.

In a very recent post, “If You’re Late. If You Flake, I’m Done With You. That’s It,” Peter Shankman posted his own “Dirty Harry” fantasy when he threatened to cut people off who showed up late, even for a few minutes, for a meeting.

“If you don’t respect my time as much as you value your own, you are an asshole, and We. Are. DONE,” said Shankman in his post.

How much different would that comment be if Shankman taunted his latecomers with “Go ahead, make my day.”

Shankman’s post about people being chronically late for calls, podcasts, and meetings hit a major chord with his readers. The post got hundreds of shares, dozens of comments on his blog, and hundreds more comments across social media. From what I could see, everyone sided with Peter. There was a little debate, but in general readers responded with “Amen,” told their annoyed stories of late arrivers, and shouted, “I’m with you Peter.”

Like my faux attempt at maître de intimidation, Peter isn’t really going to follow through with his threats.

Here’s why:

First, Peter is far from being an angel himself.

Just 12 days prior to writing his post, I was on a roundtable podcast where others and I waited for Peter to show up. He was late. I believe his excuse was he was waiting for soup. Seriously.

Second, Peter works in public relations and it simply would be a “PR fail” if he followed through with his “No Peter for you!” Soup Nazi threat.

Third, I asked Peter if he was truly serious about his “ten minutes late and you’re out” threat.

He responded by saying, “I’m not putting the world ‘on notice,’ I’m simply saying ‘be smarter.’ I’m also not saying ‘you’re cut off if you’re late once.’ I’m saying, though, that it does impact on how I think of you.”

Regardless, according to the responses, Peter’s readers, if they could, would blow away these “punk ass” latecomers. “DO YOU KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE?!”

Peter’s post was a wonderful rant we’d all wish we could do in real life. At least we could watch Peter vicariously tell people off. Unfortunately, Peter’s never going to have a “You’re Fired” Apprentice moment.

The reality is relationships, professionalism, and tolerance are all highly nuanced. We could spend forever debating (as evidenced by the comments to Peter’s post) when is the right and wrong time to cut someone off for being late. There is simply no line you can draw.

Without realizing it, each of us has a “why doesn’t everyone do things like me” sensibility. It’s akin to George Carlin’s “Idiot and Maniac” routine. Whatever speed you’re going at that given time is the right speed. If you’re going too slow, you’re an idiot. If you’re going too fast, you’re a maniac.

If we ever do business together you may think whatever I’m doing is too slow or too fast for you. Regardless, is our table ready? Who am I? Oh, nobody. I was just asking for a friend.


P.S. – If you truly like ranting, please feel free to download my ebook, “80 Annoying Communications That Must End.” It’s only $.99 available through iTunes or Amazon. It’s a lot funnier and cheaper than Peter’s new book, “Zombie Loyalists.”


Creative Commons photo credit to Affiliate Summit and Ben Spark.

Other photo credits to and Warner Home Video.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

shankman February 10, 2015 at 9:34 am

Love this. :) Thanks, David. I always tend to quote Eastwood from In the Line of Fire,” though:

Frank Horrigan: [Leary is hanging from an elevator alongside a hotel building. Horrigan offers his hand to him] Take my hand. If you don’t, you’ll die.

Mitch Leary: [smiling] Do you want to save me, Frank?

Frank Horrigan: To be frank and honest with you, no. But it’s my job.

Good piece.

Josh Roza February 10, 2015 at 11:04 am

Well if he’s guilty of it himself, it does lessen his indignation, but not his message I do drop calls and I do walk out of meetings when people are late. Have I been late? Yes, and after the most embrassing 30 minutes of a 60 minute meeting of hearing how that act made me lose the business – I vowed to always be early. Anticipate bad traffic and late soup!

I also had a practice very ealry on where I would lock the meeting room doors once a meeting began and that was it – I would not unlock them. You are either on time or you’d miss out.

David Spark February 10, 2015 at 2:32 pm

I think you hit a nerve with people and others like the thought of calling someone an “asshole” and saying “We. Are. DONE.” The reality is showing up on time among many other things have a lot to do with building a trustworthy relationship.

David Spark February 10, 2015 at 2:33 pm

If your business can withstand the locked door treatment, then kudos to you. Not so easy to pull off. How long did that last? And did you really not let people in? Someone above you? Did you leave them out? You let one person in, no matter who it is it defeats the purpose. You simply can’t be hard lined as much as we want to, just like Dirty Harry is.

Jamie Wright February 10, 2015 at 5:55 pm

The argument about other people’s bad behavior – when we all are late at one time or another – and the readership’s enthusiastic endorsement reminds me of the idea behind another Carlin bit: Stuff.

Hopefully we can all agree if we say we’re going to be somewhere at a given time, it’s only responsible and respectful to show up on time (*and* that there’s some give for the occasional human factor).

David Spark February 10, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Of course, you could have this argument all day, but it’s a fantasy to believe you could just cut people off for being late. It’s never going to change. Someone’s lateness is just one factor you add to your decision to do business with someone. If it’s a client and they’re paying you well, you put up with whatever lateness you can tolerate and you keep your mouth shut. :)

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