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Travel delays and appointment mishaps

Q: In April, I had an informational interview scheduled with a friend of my cousin. I rarely drive into Boston and it causes me great anxiety when I do. I left plenty of time that morning but probably not enough time. Because of rain and highway construction delays, I never got there on time. I just turned around and came home. Now what do I do? I am so embarrassed that I really don’t want to admit what happened. Is it too late to send a note of apology? My cousin is irritated that I did this after he referred me to his friend.

A: We have all had those mornings when traveling to a location seems to be filled with hurdles, delays and hiccups. Here are some thoughts about how to best handle this in the future:

1. Think about scoping out the location, the route and the parking beforehand. Some people will even “take a dry run.” This means traveling to the location before your appointment to ensure that you know the area, the potential setbacks, parking options, etc. While this is often smart to do, you can not always anticipate traffic or weather delays. You should build in extra time for delays however. I often will use the 2X rule. If I expect a commute to take 30 minutes, I plan for a 60-minute commute.
2. Consider public transportation. Sometimes the stress of finding a parking spot, traffic delays, etc. can cause more hassle than the convenience of driving may be worth.
3. Don’t rely solely on a GPS for a new destination. I usually use both a GPS and a printed map.

If you are running late, it is a professional courtesy to call the person and ask if he or she can still meet. If not, offer another option.

In your specific situation, you should have called the person and explained that you were running late or needed to re-schedule. It is unacceptable to be a “no show” especially since you were referred by your cousin.

I would suggest apologizing to both your cousin and the person you were scheduled to meet. You made a mistake. I think it is important to acknowledge the mistake. You will have to decide whether it is worth it to reschedule this appointment. The other person may not give you a second chance. And if traveling to Boston provokes such feelings of anxiety on your end, it may be better for you to schedule conference calls with contacts in Boston.

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