>Amy L. Strauss

>Punctuality is defined as the act of arriving at or completing a task, event, or engagement at or before a previously designated time. Perhaps most easily thought of as being “on time” or “on task,” punctuality, or the lack of, is in most cases an individual trait or tied to an individual event or task. It is, however, a more widespread problem across some cultures.
By far, punctuality is a much higher priority in countries that are largely industrialized, such as the United States, China, Germany, and the United Kingdom. For countries such as Spain, India, and those in Latin America and the Middle East, however, punctuality is a much lesser priority. When a culture relies heavily on clocks, time dictate the start of events, meetings, and the like. It is in these cultures that watches, clocks, and time pieces are generally kept in unison. In event time, the focus is less on time and more on the event itself, meaning that people living by event time will see an event through before carrying on to the next.
… To that end, Japan, a country that is hypersensitive to the clock and the need to be punctual, has developed such a reliance on the adherence to schedules that its transportation workers fear reprimand for delays. Commuter trains connect with only minutes to spare before their riders must make their next connection. Such a focus on punctuality has been blamed for accidents, such as the one that occurred in 2005 when nearly 100 people were killed because the commuter train’s engineer was trying desperately to make up 90 seconds.
Punctuality is to an extent a relatively modern concept. Clocks and standardized time have only been in use for little more than a century. Prior to that, there were wide variations in the keeping of time, thereby making punctuality nearly impossible. Clocks were set relative to the sun’s position, making them inaccurate. It was not until a global standardized time plan went into effect that there was a gauge of timeliness.

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