Researchers have finally decided how late is late – 10 minutes, 17 seconds.
That is the lateness threshold at which people feel it necessary to telephone and admit they are going to be late.
During that time, 12 babies will be born in England and Wales, there will be eight road accidents, 3,804 people will board an aeroplane and 590 million e-mails will be sent worldwide.
However, about 10% of us would not consider calling until at least 30 minutes beyond the “agreed appointment time”, says the study, by motorists’ website GetMeThere.co.uk.
More than 80% of people in their 50s claim they are never late for anything because they are gripped by “bus fuss” – the anxiety about being late for crucial events.
But almost 70% of young women believe it is “acceptable, if not fashionable” to be late on a first date because it makes them feel “less desperate”.
On one subject, both men and women agree – they “wouldn’t care” if they were late for their mother-in-law’s birthday party.