Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ignoring the rules? How's that working for you?

While waiting at my son's school this morning, I listened to a line of high school kids one after another try to not get a tardy slip, with a series of explanations, even though late for school. They all got tardy slips. As I was leaving one of my son's friends came strolling in with a coffee coolatta (10 minutes after the bell rang). I'm guessing he just took his tardy slip without any comment. Other than the comment the coolatta sent.

The odd thing about watching this is that it freed me from how terrible I'd been feeling about enforcing a deadline. Gave many weeks to be on time.

Responses from the high school attendance monitor sounded familiar:
* You know the deadline;
* Yes, there are penalties for being late;
* Instructions not followed;
* Helps to start early if don't want to risk being late;
* The school didn't cause the problem that resulted in delay;
* No, can't "bend/ignore the rules" for one person;
* Allowing others to be late isn't fair to the people who are early or on time;
* Yes, things can go wrong, but you're still late.

And I wondered if they're learning a lesson that may help them succeed later; or if it's miss the high school deadline today, and miss the association and/or work deadline tomorrow.

Associations hear the same reasons for many things with a time deadline - dues bills, course credits, scholarship deadlines, competitive grant application deadlines, early bird pricing, legal/filing deadlines, etc. And associations have to comply with numerous time deadlines too - IRS filings, PAC filings, bill payments, etc.

The whole concept of ignoring the rules ignores there really are rules. Life is full of rules. Some with more serious penalties than others, some result in missed opportunity. Want to ignore the rules or test the deadline? Go ahead. But every day the attendance monitor (or the association, or some government entity) is handing out their tardy slips.

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