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The Tyranny of the Tardy

Since I’m obviously not a Southerner and no amount of browbeating will ever change that, my brain simply isn’t wired for passive aggressive or that weird thing called subtlety. I have some clever ideas that I think are mighty fine solutions to the terminally tardy family member.

1.  If she doesn’t show up on time to the next family dinner, we put her dinner out on the front porch when the rest of us sit down to eat. When she arrives an hour late and sees the neighborhood cats polishing off her cold steak she may start to get a clue.

2.  If she’s late to the next family gathering at a restaurant, we have a tall dunce cap with sparklers that she will have to wear if she wants to join us. If she refuses to wear it then we collectively ban her from the table.

3.  If she’s late to an outdoor gathering, we pack up and move a mile down the road within the first 30 minutes of her no-show, and we don’t leave a trail of breadcrumbs for her to find us.

4.  If she’s late to a wedding or a funeral, we instruct the ushers not to let her in the church (I mean, really, to waltz into a church in the middle of a wedding so that everyone will stop looking at the bride and groom and look at you as you curtsy and whisper your apologies. How . . . unSouthern.)

5.  And if all else fails, we throw a black hood over her head as she leaves for work one morning, kidnap her and bring her to a clandestine location in the woods, and beat her severely with Miss Manners etiquette books.

No, Miss Manners probably would not be pleased with that last recommendation. In fact, she probably wouldn’t care for any of them. I know what Miss Manners would say because I researched it on the Internet. Her solution? “When you are the host, tell your guests when dinner will be served (‘Please come at 7; we’ll be eating at 7:30’) and go ahead with that schedule, telling anyone who arrives late, ‘I knew you wouldn’t want us to wait for you.’”

And that is probably what we’ll do from now on. We’ll simply plan our dinners and events and carry along as if she’s not coming at all. And until someone grows the guts to confront her about her unacceptable behavior (or just gives me the green light because I have no shortage of guts), we’ll just be Southern and pretend it’s not happening.

I can live with this because, like I said earlier, you make concessions for certain things in life, and if something is important enough to you then you can learn to adapt to just about any situation.

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3:26AM PDT on Oct 7, 2012

Great article, and thankyou for the funny suggestions.

10:03PM PDT on Oct 4, 2012

I think being late can have a genetic component that causes time distortion or inability to judge time correctly. This runs in my family - 2 of my 3 children have it, the other does not. All of my siblings have it. I don't think it is environmental as I raised all my children pretty much the same.

8:09PM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

This is a common factor with a couple of friends of mine. I have given them the 1 hour, because nothing I said ever made a difference, and after 1 hour I go about my business. One of my friends got the hint and is now usually closer to being on time, 15 min late. The other will never change and I use the Jewish time on that one and say to arrive 1 to 1 1/2 hours early and it usually works. I have gone off without her, but that still doesn't faze her. Smile and choose your battles. Some are not worth the headache you will cause yourself if you get upset.

1:24PM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

The story of my wife.

7:55AM PDT on Oct 2, 2012

good idea

11:10AM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

Hmm... seems rather passive-aggressive to me...

6:15AM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

Noted,good ideas ,thanks.

4:57AM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

Thanks for the great tips Samantha.

4:38AM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

great ideas

3:01PM PDT on Sep 30, 2012


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