While going over the old “How to Tell if You’re Imperial” post, this particular entry stood out to me:
If you have an appointment, you’ll be sure to turn up a couple of minutes late. While you’ll apologize if you’re more than five minutes late, being early (or on time for that matter) is worse.
Is there any particular reason behind this? Given that Imperial law and custom takes the matter of oath-contracts so seriously in every other case, it seems a little out of place that it would be customary to show up late for a promised appointment.
…only a little late. That’s important. You aren’t supposed to be actually late-late, just never early and not annoyingly prompt.
It’s a courtesy thing. One does not hazard embarrassing the person one has come to see by arriving before they’re ready for you. By establishing a little customary “spread” in appointment times (it’s even in the CSP), one ensures that this solecism does not happen.
I will say, this part is a /hair/ counterintuitive, but it makes sense when you consider that Imperials dislike being told “you will do X, at Y time, in Z way, or else” by others almost as much as they dislike having obligations defaulted on. A strict expectation of “exactly at the appointed time, not early, not late” seems rather imperious, while “show up early, or you’re late” seems disingenuous – you should say what you mean, and mean what you say, ne?
Or at the very least, that’s how I read it, from what I’ve glarked of Imperial culture so far.