To Americans， punctuality is a way of showing respect for other people‘s time. Being more than 10 minutes late to an appointment usually calls for an apology， and maybe an explanation. People who are running late often call ahead to let others know of the delay. Of course， the less formal the situation， the less important it is to be exactly on time. At informal get-togethers， for example， people often arrive as much as 30 minutes past the appointed time. But they usually don’t try that at work.
Still， it‘s possible to go too far. At the end of the 19th century， some women even had ribs removed so they’d have that perfect narrow waist. Some people today have poison injected in the face to get rid of wrinkles， even though this means that their facial muscles will be paralyzed， unable to express certain emotions.
Even Americans would admit that no one can master time. Time-like money-slips all too easily through our fingers. And time-like the weather-is very hard to predict. Nevertheless， time is one of life‘s most precious gifts. And unwrapping it is half the fun.
American lifestyles show how much people respect the time of others. When people plan an event， they often set the time days or weeks in advance. Once the time is fixed， it takes almost an emergency to change it. If people want to come to your house for a friendly visit， they will usually call first to make sure it is convenient. Only very close friends will just “drop by” unannounced.