Monday, May 20, 2013

Treat Chronic Lateness By Ignoring It - And Starting The Party Anyway

Dear Tazi:

I have a family member who is chronically late to every event, and thus makes everyone else wait for him (and his family, who are late with him). It does not matter what time the event is, he will be late for it. "Fred" will call ahead to say he is running a little bit late and to please not start without him, and he feels this courtesy call excuses his tardiness.

Recently, my family had dinner reservations for 12 people at an expensive restaurant. Fred and his family were once again over two hours late, even though we gave them an earlier start time (by two hours) in the hope that he might arrive on time. Because there were only eight of us and the reservation was for 12, the restaurant charged us a $50 cancelled reservation fee. I demanded that Fred pay this fee, but he refused because he was not there to eat dinner (which we went ahead and ate without him).

I am willing to eat the $50 charge for Fred's tardiness if he stops expecting the world to revolve around his timetable, and I have told him this, but he says I am being unreasonable. On this particular night his babysitter  (for his two youngest children, who were not coming to the dinner) cancelled and he had to line up a replacement before he could leave. Fred argues that if he cancelled I would have had to pay the $50 anyway. This is part of the problem. Fred always has a reasonable excuse for why he is so ridiculously late.

Am I being unreasonable in demanding that Fred arrive on time to events if he wants to partake in them? Am I being a jerk for starting the event without him?

Tired Of Waiting

Dear Tired Of Waiting:

You are not being unreasonable in wanting to hold Fred to a set standard of decorum. You gave Fred a start time of two-hours earlier than you wanted him there and he still showed up two hours later than the actual start time - that would make him four hours late. Fred is being unreasonable in expecting people to hold a reservation for him for so long; he should have called to cancel and offered to pay the cancellation charge. This is how grown-ups act!

You are being unreasonable in trying to control Fred's behavior through manipulation, punishment, and deceit. You are being unreasonable in insisting that Fred "makes" you wait. Nobody can make you do something that you do not want. I suggest that in the future you tell Fred the true start time of any event, and let him know that courtesy call or not, you will be starting without him (and his family) if he is not there. Rude behavior such as Fred's can serve as its own punishment.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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