For as long as he can remember, 57-year-old Jim Dunbar has never been able to make it to appointments on time. His friends and family always thought he was making excuses, but after a recent doctor’s appointment, for which he was a half-hour late, Jim was diagnosed with incurable lateness.
Jim Dunbar used to always tell people it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t make it on time for anything, but they never took him seriously. Even as a five-year-old he remembers constantly being late for school, football matches and holidays. As an adult he has left women waiting for him on first dates, lost several jobs, turned up to meals with his friends hours after the set meeting time and even showed up for funerals long after they had started. Recently, Jim tried to catch a movie at the local cinema, in Forfar, Scotland, and knowing his lateness might get in the way, he gave himself an 11-hour head start to make sure he got there on time. Dunbar knew the movie started at 7 pm, but despite his best efforts, he arrived 20 minutes late. After going through countless similar experiences, he finally decided to talk to a doctor about his problem. He was a half-hour late for his appointment at a Ninewells hospital, but he finally got an answer to the question that had been bugging him for a lifetime – “Why can’t I be on time?”
Photo: D C Thompson/The Evening Telegraph
After conducting a series of tests, medical experts his constant lateness is caused by a brain disorder. They learned that his condition affects the same part of the brain as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), rendering him unable to estimate how long things take. Unfortunately it’s incurable, and no matter how hard Jim tries, he can’t seem to do anything about it. He has a special clock in his living-room that uses radio frequencies tuned to a national transmitter to make sure it always displays the right time, right down to the seconds, but it hasn’t helped him much. He tried wearing wristwatches, setting his clocks fast and living early to arrive on time, but to no avail. “It is really depressing sometimes. I can’t overstate how much it helped to say it was a condition.,” Jim told The Evening Telegraph. “The reason I want it out in the open is that there has got to be other folk out there with it and they don’t realize that it’s not their fault.”
Even after being diagnosed with chronic lateness, Jim Dunbar says his family still doesn’t believe it’s not his fault he is always late.