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September 2, 2014 7:34 AM   Subscribe


 
(forgot to add: via Kottke).
posted by Mchelly at 7:35 AM on September 2


Relevant rant by David Mitchell, from his 'soapbox' series.
posted by chambers at 7:37 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Now that everyone has one of these newfangled pocket-watches, the concept of time itself has been become rank and defiled. Rather than confirm the correct hour like a gentleman: against the regularly-maintained clock on the wall of a post office, constabulary or respectable banking institution, everyone has their own hour in hand. You say to your man "half past eleven" and he shows up half past eleven to him, which is a quarter to twelve on Big Ben! This is sheer madness; I pray the idea of pocket-watches does not catch on in such a fashion lest elevenses come after afternoon tea and the entire empire flounders.
posted by griphus at 7:42 AM on September 2 [146 favorites]


Yeah, but doesn't life happen while you're making other plans?
posted by gwint at 7:43 AM on September 2


In the landline-days of old, a plan had to be a solid commitment...
I sort of get a kick when people who didn't even gestate through the old days talk about what the old days were like.

You know, kids, back in my day, we would just say "My sister/roomate/visiting-space-alien didn't answer the call-waiting. Sorry I missed you."

Or even better - We're at the show, Jane's late. Is Jane coming ? Do we wait, do we go, do we try to find a pay phone to try and track her down ? I wasted hours of my life on that shit. At least now, they will just flake and text "sorry, maybe later".

People were flaky as shit back then, too, sonny. They'll be flaky as shit in the future when we have teleportation and telepathy, too.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:44 AM on September 2 [130 favorites]


Yeah, you know, I can remember when no one had a cell phone and people would just not show up or show up 45 minutes late with absolutely no warning, and you had to sit there and wonder if they were going to show up or not, whether you should leave or not (if the meeting place was not the place you were actually going), if something had happened to them, etc. All that already happened. It's not like the person saying they realized they had to work that night was going to ditch work because they didn't have a cell phone so they could let you know. They'd just stand you up.

So yeah, I call bullshit on a large part of this.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:46 AM on September 2 [12 favorites]


My wife and I were complaining about this just the other day. The takeaway from our conversation was that this is probably the point in my life where society begins to pivot in a slightly different direction from the one I'd grown up with, and rather than adjust my expectations I just get left behind, just some angry old asshole who's always impatiently waiting around for other people to actually show the fuck up like they goddammed said they would.
posted by saladin at 7:46 AM on September 2 [17 favorites]


Also, scenes featuring landlines in old movies are hilarious now. The idea of getting someone's number, in a romantic sense, and that number being a landline rather than a cell phone is adorable. It's like "oh, yes, I am very much attracted to you. Here is the phone number of a building I'm occasionally in but considering I have a job and a social life, I'm not actually very likely to be there. Fortunately for you, I am thrall to my answering machine, calling it like an anxious parent every time I see a phone in the outside world."
posted by griphus at 7:46 AM on September 2 [14 favorites]


He's just noticing that cell phones change the way that we make plans in 2014?
posted by octothorpe at 7:47 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


It sounds like you have flaky friends. This is not an IT problem. I'm closing this ticket.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:47 AM on September 2 [196 favorites]


I'm pleased that this guy's high horse has rocket powered hooves that defy traffic snarls and public transport woes or whatever, but I'd rather be able to tell my friends not to wait for me when I'm sitting on a bus for an hour and a half because I can't afford a car than have them hang around wondering if I'm going to show.
posted by fight or flight at 7:48 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Or even better - We're at the show, Jane's late. Is Jane coming ? Do we wait, do we go, do we try to find a pay phone to try and track her down ? I wasted hours of my life on that shit.

TESTIFY. One of my friends is an even bigger Luddite than me, and didn't get a cell phone until just this year. And doing anything with him was HELLISH because he was always the one who got stuck in traffic, or one of us would get to where we were going early and find it was closed, and we had no way of getting in touch with R to ask him "are you on your way" or "we're moving to [foo] instead". His ex-wife finally convinced him to get a cell phone during the leadup to their wedding and at least three of his friends and his brother all hugged her in the receiving line just for that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on September 2 [15 favorites]


Yeah, you know, I can remember when no one had a cell phone and people would just not show up or show up 45 minutes late with absolutely no warning, and you had to sit there and wonder if they were going to show up or not...

Yeah, and that's some inexcusable asshole behavior.

Now, a "sry running late b there in 15 mins!" is supposed to excuse it... even though it's still asshole behavior.

Make plans & stick to 'em, folks. If you can't stick to it, don't make plans. Don't be that person who always says "yeah i think i can make it!" out of a desire to tell people what they want to hear.
posted by entropone at 7:49 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


My coworker complains about people being flaky and shitty all the time, and sent me this video a couple months ago when it was making the rounds on reddit.

Conclusion: cell phones just make it easier for flaky, shitty people to display their flaky shittiness to you. If you routinely have problems with your friends being flaky and shitty, it is because your friends are flaky and shitty, not because of cell phones.
posted by phunniemee at 7:49 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


and didn't get a cell phone until just this year.[...] His ex-wife finally convinced him to get a cell phone during the leadup to their wedding

This makes me sad.
posted by OmieWise at 7:50 AM on September 2 [49 favorites]


Make plans & stick to 'em, folks.

Quite a few of my friends have long-term illnesses and mental health issues that make it difficult for them to accurately predict if they're going to be able to stick to plans. So, I dunno, maybe I'm more inclined to exist in the spirit of forgiveness than punishing people for having a life.
posted by fight or flight at 7:51 AM on September 2 [20 favorites]


Planning to meet at an event in 1990:

"What time will you be there"
"I'll try to be there around five"
"Where do we meet when we get there?"
"How about over by the east gate?"
"Which one is that? The one by Foo Street or by Bar Street?"
"Neither, it's one over by Baz Street"
etc.

Now:
"Ping me when you get there"
posted by octothorpe at 7:52 AM on September 2 [9 favorites]


It also helps to make plans for the place you are actually going to, rather than pre-plans to meet somewhere and then go to that place. I can no longer remember why we all did that all the time in our 20s, instead of just going to the bar we were actually going to and meeting people at the bar. We were afraid of being in a bar alone? Terrified to spend time with our own thoughts? Concerned nobody else would show? Worried about finding the right place and having to ask directions? Thought we'd seem like outcasts if we didn't travel in a pack? I seriously no longer have any idea why we always did that, and for ride-sharing I just arrange that directly with the one or two people close to me that it's easy to share a ride with.

Anyway, my life involves much less flakiness by friends now that we just go where we're going, instead of pre-going to a pre-location before going to the location. Also if I'm meeting friends known to sometimes flake (for good reasons or terrible ones), I just pick places I want to go anyway and don't mind going to alone. Much less stressful.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:56 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


If you routinely have problems with your friends being flaky and shitty, it is because your friends are flaky and shitty, not because of cell phones.

Bingo. A reliable friend with a cellphone tells you that they're late because of the semi that tried to pull a double twisting layout on the vault and ended up sideways on the Kennedy, and so they and the rest of Chicago got off at Irving Park, which is slow at the best of times and this is not the best of times, so, yeah, they're going to be late.

Before? You stew and they pray to god you saw a traffic report and realized that they were in it.

Tools don't make people unreliable or reliable. They are unreliable or reliable people all on their own.
posted by eriko at 7:58 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


Asked a friend of mine in his 50s once, "gosh, in the days before cell phones, I bet people made much more solid plans and showed up places on time!"

He responded, "no, we just wound up ditching people a lot because we had no idea where the hell they were."
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:58 AM on September 2 [32 favorites]


It's true. I can't tell you the number of times I've made specific, concrete appointments with people a couple of weeks out, repeatedly spoken with them to confirm the appointment in the days leading up to the appointment, only to end up being stood up completely because I didn't call the person on their cell in the minutes immediately before the appointed meeting time. Cell phones are definitely negatively impacting people's ability to make and stick to long-term plans.

it is because your friends are flaky and shitty, not because of cell phones.

It seems to be more or less universal among people of the generation who came of age with cell phones. They make all their plans on the fly, always, and don't really even seem to understand how people who don't do that think.

Scares the crap out of me because we were already too short-term focused.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:00 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


health issues that make it difficult for them to accurately predict if they're going to be able to stick to plans

There is a huge difference between:

[a few hours before] "not feeling up to it today, sorry but I need to sit this one out"

and

[12 hours before] "omg so excitedd!!<3"
[11 hours before] "actually can we meet at [place2] instead of [place1]? I'm bringing my roommate and he used to work at [place1] so really it would be best if we could go to [place2] thankss!!"
[9 hours before] "can't wait! see you tomorrow!"
[15 mins before] "omgggg just woke up gonna be late so sorry!"
[15 mins after] "sry on my way now"
[30 mins after] [no response]
[45 mins after] "hey can't make it something came up"
posted by phunniemee at 8:01 AM on September 2 [20 favorites]


It sounds like you have flaky friends. This is not an IT problem.

To expand on that a bit: every single person now has a device in their pocket linked to an atomic clock. You know what fucking time it is, as does everyone else. Don't be late, it's a shitty thing to do.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:02 AM on September 2 [18 favorites]


I don't know why humans persist in the belief that we are the only animal species not subject to operant behavioral conditioning. Because if cell phones were a machine we'd invented for a lab experiment, to demonstrate the effects of certain kinds of novel stimulation on animal test subjects, we'd all have no trouble acknowledging there's some potential for our devices to train people to have different expectations and behaviors. But no, we're people, so it's all down to agency for us.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:03 AM on September 2 [12 favorites]


"Get off my digital lawn."

*screams at metafilter tab*
posted by Fizz at 8:04 AM on September 2


> "But no, we're people, so it's all down to agency for us."

People aren't arguing that no such effect is possible. They are noting that in their own experience, people were just as flaky before cell phones and it was a much bigger pain in the ass.
posted by kyrademon at 8:06 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Having a cellphone means you're always liable to be put on the spot to commit to things, that in the olden days you could just avoid.
posted by Flashman at 8:07 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I don't think cellphones have made people flaky, as stated above, but I think there is a perception that being flaky is acceptable, or at least not that big a deal. I think also the fact that people tend to overbook themselves in terms of work, school, and social commitments (or at least make it seem like they do) also plays into it a lot. Which is also facilitated by technology. Cellphones don't make people do anything but they do make it easier and more common.
posted by bleep at 8:07 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I have found that it's almost impossible to make dinner reservations unless it's just the two of us going out. "Hi, yeah, I was wondering if you have a table available for 4... or maybe 8, I don't know. Sometime around 7? Let's just say that between 4 and 8, no, 10 people will be there between 6:30 and 9:00."
posted by backseatpilot at 8:08 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


I'm guilty of this myself. Being social always sounds so great in theory and then it's time to go and I'm just so tired.
posted by bleep at 8:09 AM on September 2 [14 favorites]


They are unreliable or reliable people all on their own.

Yep. Also there are on-time people who are in relationships with late people and are thus late to everything wethey go to together and are always kind of annoyed and embarrassed about it.
posted by ghharr at 8:12 AM on September 2 [24 favorites]


I blame rootless Californians for infecting everyone with their flakiness
posted by The Whelk at 8:12 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Man it would be awesome to never have to unexpectedly have to work late in the office because something blew up and you have to fix it, and to never get sick, or have to deal with traffic because of an overturned semi, or late trains because of a derailment, or have a two year old throw up in the car en-route. Then I might never be late too!

This guy should take over Amtrak and the CTA so none of us are ever late again.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:13 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Being social always sounds so great in theory
posted by Green With You at 8:14 AM on September 2 [31 favorites]


Is this a serious problem? What, does this guy live in San Francisco or something? *clicks* ... oh.

Attention white people in San Francisco! You are the flakiest motherfuckers on the planet. Everybody knows this. It has nothing to do with cell phones. It has everything to do with your culture.

San Franciscans, when invited to an event, have no idea how to say "no". They'll say "sure", or "I'll try to swing by", or some such bullshit. And of course they'll flake or show up late, because they never wanted to be there in the first place, but didn't want to hurt your feelings.

I know people who have moved to San Francisco and moved back within a year because they couldn't deal with people wasting their time.

If you live in San Francisco and you don't like folks flaking out on you, move. Or just embrace your culture and roll with it. Fuck, people, get with it.
posted by phooky at 8:16 AM on September 2 [23 favorites]


Before (I had a ) cell phone (or gps device) I would frequently get lost, even if I had been a place before, even if I had looked up directions beforehand, even if I had turn by turn directions written out on a note card in my glove compartment. More than once I just went home because I had no idea where we were trying to go. I could leave an answering machine message or email once I got home but no one would see that until they got home.

Now my phone has a gps, calendar, and multiple ways of getting a hold of people. It also has things to idly do if I arrive somewhere before other people do and can't handle life without in-person interaction with people I know.

Not everybody is me, but I'm much better at making (and keeping) plans. I'd go so far as to say it's far, far easier to stay in touch with people now. And along with last minute flaking is last minute plans.
posted by mountmccabe at 8:16 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


I'm guilty of this myself. Being social always sounds so great in theory and then it's time to go and I'm just so tired.

I do this, too. A week out I'm like "yes, sure! this sounds great!" and then it turns into a week of me monitoring my Introvert Action Level. Sometimes the evening arrives and all is good. Sometimes the evening arrives and I realize I need to spend the evening staring at a wall at home.

Chicago mefites who see me every month at the Goat have seen me on low Introvert Action Level days. Since it's a weekday and all I have to do is walk across the Loop after work, the effort required to get to those meetups is very little. Sometimes they're great. And sometimes I just end up staring fixedly at hydrophonic's head wondering if maybe he is secretly Ted Allen while being generally inarticulate and grumpy.

The struggle is real. And has zero to do with cell phone access.
posted by phunniemee at 8:16 AM on September 2 [26 favorites]


But no, we're people, so it's all down to agency for us.

It's just that everybody I know who's a flake now was the same way 15 years ago. Now sometimes they warn me while they're in the process (which isn't really helpful, because I've already planned for it). I don't know a single person who went from respecting others' time to flaking. Which isn't to say it doesn't happen, but it's not a given at all.

Whether or not anybody under the age of ... 25ish maybe? ... is more likely to be a timewaster, though, because they grew up with this always-in-contact expectation, I don't know. I would tend to doubt it.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:17 AM on September 2


Metafilter: Being social always sounds so great in theory

Knowing that the rest of Metafilter feels this way is probably why about 90% of my social interactions at this point are with groups that are at least half Mefites.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:18 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Who needs a list like that? I am supposed to get inconvenienced worrying about people who have no problem inconveniencing me and altering my schedule? Are people still that emotionally insecure that they have to be liked by everybody?

I have streamlined my life with focus: I make a plan. I inform interested parties about the plan. Said parties show up; we go full steam ahead at agreed upon time. They don't show up: *I* go full steam ahead -- with or without them. If they think their time is more valuable than mine or have not fully intellectually developed to plan ahead for possible and probable delays, they can get the memo setting them straight at my convenience.

It is the reason I have no problems flying solo -- people know I will drive away if they are late and it is amazing how well people can show up on time when they know there is no enabler around to keep their delusions going...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:19 AM on September 2 [13 favorites]


I dunno; back in the day, I had a set of friends I didn't invite to anything with a hard start time, because I didn't like standing out in front of the venues waiting for the person who was never on time. Now I just text"we've gone inside."
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:19 AM on September 2



Attention white people in San Francisco! You are the flakiest motherfuckers on the planet.

None of these people can actually leave their house. Everyone on the street is a tourist or wandering around in a haze cause they forgot how to order sushi online and all this bright light confuses them.
posted by The Whelk at 8:20 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


Cellphones don't make people flaky--I was a flaky person before I had a cellphone, I'm a flaky person now--but cellphones give people who are so concerned about punctuality a record of their friends' transgressions. People flake, why not be compassionate and say "so and so wasn't feeling up to it" rather than brood?
posted by gem tactics at 8:28 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


I've found the new-fangled devices also enable rageaholics who sit and fume if they don't receive constant updates about where people are and when they will arrive even if everybody arrives exactly on time. And god help them if they don't. You can't win. These are the same people who used to carry pocket day-timers around.
posted by lagomorphius at 8:30 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


*guiltily raises hand*

I have been That Person, to my shame.

A cursory --but mostly objective-- analysis of my own behavior suggests that the cellphone is a tool which enables me to more clearly define my priorities with regard to social obligations and attending events. In other words, it makes it easier for me to be a flake to people I apparently don't respect all that much* while simultaneously helping me be more reliable to the people I really do respect.

Basically it turns out that if I'm texting you stuff like "running late" or "stuck in traffic" or whatever...um...I guess we weren't as good of friends as you thought we were!


*Sorry work-friends. This is basically you. I know, I'm an ass.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:33 AM on September 2


Let's just admit that we're all addicted to rageahol when it comes to other people's behaviors.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:33 AM on September 2 [8 favorites]


These are the same people who used to carry pocket day-timers around.

MY DAY IS VERY WELL ORGANIZED THANK YOU

If I could implant RFID chips into my friends and cohorts I would.
posted by The Whelk at 8:35 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Yeah, no, sorry fellow old timers. The flavor of flakiness from back in the time of landlines is different than the one allowed with cellphones. Now every plan is to be considered a wobbly set of vague factors to be resolved half by chance and half by whim, and even then they are so much in flux that latecomers could juggle several alternatives up until one of us finally gets irate enough for them to make up their minds and say they won't make it.

Also some are under the impression that most people that don't make it in time do it for legitimate reasons. That is hardly the norm: it is subconsciously acceptable for them to crash or be fashionably late. They don't even have to be horrible friends to do this, it's just the way they live their lives.
posted by infinitelives at 8:35 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


Cellphones don't make people flaky--I was a flaky person before I had a cellphone, I'm a flaky person now--but cellphones give people who are so concerned about punctuality a record of their friends' transgressions. People flake, why not be compassionate and say "so and so wasn't feeling up to it" rather than brood?

I totally get this, I really do; I have mental health issues and get very anxious about social situations and sometimes I just can't make it somewhere. The thing is, I also feel like it's incumbent upon me to let people know because otherwise I'm being really disrespectful of their time. If they make the effort to be somewhere on time, especially something like a movie or a reservation where the time actually matters, it's not fair of me to make them wait. It's rude and I'm putting them in an unfair position. If it's something like "we're meeting at a bar, show up whenever", fine, but I get very very anxious when I'm waiting for something to start and other people are late.

I don't mean to "brood", it's just very, very hard for me to cope with standing around waiting for a person who is being disrespectful of my time as I get increasingly anxious about the actual plans we've made. If you can't come, say you can't come. If you're going to be late, say you're going to be late. I have all the sympathy in the world for people who feel unable to handle coming to a social event, but that sympathy sort of dries up when you are not considerate about other people's time and the anxieties they might be undergoing as plans change.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:38 AM on September 2 [12 favorites]


At some point I even felt swayed by this behavior. I remember making plans with someone and then days later, before the date, thinking "I wonder if we're actually meeting. I haven't heard back from X". I needed a confirmation to cinch it. Of course, the guy was there at the time we agreed, like a human should.
posted by infinitelives at 8:40 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


He responded, "no, we just wound up ditching people a lot because we had no idea where the hell they were."

Yeah, this. But that provided something of a disincentive for people to run really late, too. If you crossed the obnoxiousness threshold with your friends, they'd just leave you. No catching up with them later, no joining them 45 minutes late (unless you happened to guess what bar / cafe / whatever they were going to), you just got dropped.

Where cellphones change things is that you can be flaky and still catch up later; it takes a lot of the sting out of showing up and realizing your friends have already moved on without you. And I think it's fair to say that has affected (some people's) behavior.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:41 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


It also helps to make plans for the place you are actually going to, rather than pre-plans to meet somewhere and then go to that place. I can no longer remember why we all did that all the time in our 20s, instead of just going to the bar we were actually going to and meeting people at the bar

Parking; at least when it happens with my friends. Why drive 6 cars, find 6 spots, (or pay for a garage 6 times)?
posted by spaltavian at 8:41 AM on September 2


Certainly people have always been late, for reasons on a spectrum of justifiability, and other people have had a spectrum of acceptance for lateness. Cellphones don't change this.

But cellphones do make possible a qualitatively different form of flakiness: a sort of social arbitrage.

Alice and Bob make plans to get together at 7:00 on Friday.

6:30 Friday rolls around.
Bob texts Charlie: "Anything going on tonight?"
Charlie: "party at Dave's"
Bob: "who else will be there?"
Charlie: "I think Ellie and Frank are going"
Bob: "I'd love to see them. Think it'll be OK if I crash it?"
Charlie: "No problem, I'll let Dave know."
Bob texts Alice that he's not feeling well and bails.

Certainly this could happen pre-cellphone, but people can and do change plans on the fly, bailing on parties even after they've gotten there.

Mere lateness is a red herring. The question is whether people actually regard their own social engagements as commitments or chips they can trade in, and whether cellphones have promoted that attitude. I think they have.
posted by adamrice at 8:44 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


Totally true stuff.
I now take great pains to make sure I have tickets in my hand and don't have to wait for someone else. I try to provide my own transport, and attempt to avoid offering rides to people who I know to regularly not be ready when they promised to be.
I start the classes I teach on time, every time.
People who waste my time are stealing from me and I won't put up with it.
And I think cell phones have made it all worse.
/grumblebutt
posted by cccorlew at 8:46 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


"The question is whether people actually regard their own social engagements as commitments or chips they can trade in, and whether cellphones have promoted that attitude. I think they have."

This.
posted by cccorlew at 8:46 AM on September 2


Flakes? I understand California has the most of them; boy they got a host of em.

In my experience it really doesn't matter when these people show up, because they will just whip out their phone/tablet and interact with someone else anyway.

Like I am doing now.
posted by TedW at 8:49 AM on September 2


Mrs. Pterodactyl--

I agree and think your response conveys a lot of what I meant with more nuance.
It doesn't seem like it in my post above but I try to be a communicative flaker. :^)

On a different note - being friends with a number of flaky, distractible people, I've learned to add extra time (15-30 mins) to any plan we've made, so and so says they're on their way? I'll sit outside and read a book till they get here, or start chopping things for dinner, or tidy up the bathroom, or play a cup in Mario Kart.
posted by gem tactics at 8:55 AM on September 2


People flake, why not be compassionate and say "so and so wasn't feeling up to it" rather than brood?

Being continually disrespectful towards someone uses up "compassion" pretty quickly. Try taking a 30 minute drive to a restaurant, followed by a 30 minute wait in the lobby, to find out you're having brunch alone. (Or worse, with the no-show's friend who you met once for 2 minutes). See if "I wasn't feeling up to it" sounds reasonable.

You dismiss it as a concern about punctuality, but it's really about recognizing that your friends are other people, not playthings that you can ignore when you don't feel like it.

I know some people have mental illness that makes it hard to stick to plans, but that's a red herring. Flakiness isn't a mental illness, most people doing this are flaky, not mentally ill. These's a big difference between someone having an anxiety issue cancelling in a reasonable time when needed and someone who just can never be counted on, with little to no warning.
posted by spaltavian at 8:58 AM on September 2 [22 favorites]


People flake, why not be compassionate and say "so and so wasn't feeling up to it" rather than brood?

Because certain people flake if not all the f***ing time, way too f***ing often ... and in the context of this discussion, cellphones are enablers.

Brings to mind two particular friends, and they really are good friends, who I long ago (in pre ubiquitous cellphone days) started refusing to meet anywhere that I didn't actually want to be anyway. Stuff like, no, I will not meet you outside the theater -- I will meet you inside the theater (with a related, no I won't buy you a ticket, but I will save you a seat). Or no I won't meet you at the corner of 6th and Main at around 7pm, I'll be hanging at Cool Book Store for a while around 7. If I see you, I see you.

WORTH NOTING:
Call me old school (I am obviously), but I often don't even think to bring my cellphone with me when I go out. It's just not on the same level of priority as grabbing my keys. So those who know me generally get it figured out that if they want to actually see me, they've got to honor that commitment they made on Friday, or last night, or four hours ago. It can be done.

posted by philip-random at 9:01 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Wow, I am just shocked that anyone would avoid seeing any of you, or that they wouldn't want to show up promptly to squeeze in every moment of your delightful, flexible, optimistic, forgiving personalities. You seem like such fun.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:07 AM on September 2 [36 favorites]


Whether or not anybody under the age of ... 25ish maybe? ... is more likely to be a timewaster, though, because they grew up with this always-in-contact expectation, I don't know. I would tend to doubt it.

I've had a lot of professional and personal interactions in recent years with people in this age bracket, and my experience was they didn't even seem to have a concept of committing to a long-term plan. Obviously anecdotal, but I'm not kidding when I say all the people I regularly interact with in that bracket need you to call to reconfirm not only the day before but about an hour ahead to make an appointment, even if it's been planned and confirmed and reconfirmed months or weeks ahead of time. I just don't remember that being how things worked when I was younger, and it still doesn't work that way with most of my same-age peers. They still seem to be planning ahead, despite using cell phones.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:08 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Attention white people in San Francisco! You are the flakiest motherfuckers on the planet.

Nope we are just still looking for parking/waiting for MUNI.
posted by fleacircus at 9:10 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Wow, I am just shocked that anyone would avoid seeing any of you, or that they wouldn't want to show up promptly to squeeze in every moment of your delightful, flexible, optimistic, forgiving personalities. You seem like such fun.

I in turn am shocked that anyone could get tired of hearing the same threadbare excuses about how something came up from such courteous and respectful people who value the time of their supposed friends.
posted by winna at 9:11 AM on September 2 [17 favorites]


As usual, the biggest problem is extroverts.

Look, we set a time. I put in my calendar, which takes all of 30 seconds. There's no need for several group texts over the next week asking for confirmation at the time we already set. Either fucking show up, send texts about how awesome its going to be or that you can't make it. There's zero need to confirm.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:14 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


Cell phones are convenient because, often, flexible plans are useful. I have lunch plans with a friend who has a baby. I don't really care if we go to lunch at 12 or 2. She can text me to let me know that the baby is napping, or eating, or ready early or late, and neither of us have to feel harried or annoyed we can just meet up when it's okay for both of us, and this was much harder to do when you couldn't change things on the fly.

Sure, flaky people will be flaky, but cell phones haven't caused anyone I know to become flaky.
posted by jeather at 9:17 AM on September 2


Juliet Banana: Wow, I am just shocked that anyone would avoid seeing any of you, or that they wouldn't want to show up promptly to squeeze in every moment of your delightful, flexible, optimistic, forgiving personalities. You seem like such fun.

I wouldn't be such a dick to you if you were more fun!
posted by spaltavian at 9:27 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


I send out a lob and waited casually at the baseline. Ouch! Nice spike.

In my experience, after knowing my friends enough that I want to make plans with them, I know to write into our plans the possibility that something may come up, someone may feel bad or not up to it, or get distracted and end up elsewhere. If I took every broken plan as an affront to my being and felt disrespected I probably would have made new friends but there is a reason these people are my friends. Maybe I'm an outlier on this? Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold. The responses to my earlier post displayed a mindset I haven't come in contact with in a while. Thank you for reminding me that people take their time much more seriously than I do.

I also carry a book with me 90% of the time. It helps
posted by gem tactics at 9:34 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


I just have a mental list of who I expect to be a flake to me. If I really want them along then I'll bug them about it. If it would just be nice to have them along then, well, if they show up yay, if not oh well I get on with the thing I was gonna do.

I also really try to avoid the "oh yeah that sounds great I might come" polite response to a proposal whose actual answer is "no please no I don't actually want to spend time with you".
posted by egypturnash at 9:36 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


We had a cookout this weekend and invited the usual group of people, maybe 20 or so folks. We got not one single response. What are you supposed to do in that circumstance? Buy enough food assuming everyone is coming? Nine people ended up showing up, most of which told us about two hours before that they were coming, some of which just showed up without any sort of confirmation. I got two declines mid-cookout. We now have a week's worth of leftovers in the fridge, so I guess I don't have to cook for a few days.

I guess I'm just not lighthearted and fun enough to appreciate our free-spirited friends.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:43 AM on September 2 [31 favorites]


Suggested technical fix: OS-level functionality for detecting that HEY YOU JUST AGREED TO A THING by parsing all text, and automatically creating a calendar entry in your phone. May require soft AI.

Suggested social fix: Be prepared to do whatever the thing was alone. Bug people for RSVPs if there is catering involved.
posted by egypturnash at 9:46 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm just not lighthearted and fun enough to appreciate our free-spirited friends.

Yeah, you should just learn to be more delightful, flexible, optimistic, and forgiving about food spoilage!
posted by spaltavian at 9:47 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


I am generally an on-time, or even awkwardly early, person, because my father was chronically, epically late, and I saw how it affected his life and relationships. And my current SO quite literally does not, due to ADHD, have a totally consistent grasp on how time passes. That said, I can't entirely wrap my brain around the level of anger in especially the second FPP link, or this approach to time:

I value time above all else. Therefore those who don’t respect it, or are clumsy with it, are in my eyes carelessly wasting our most precious resource.

Particularly the "clumsy" part--I read this paragraph and go, "why would I want to be friends with this jackass? He should build his own robot friends, if humans are so clumsy and wasteful."

Perhaps it's that valuing any one thing above all else strikes me as a recipe for lifelong, seething disappointment. Or perhaps it's that I recently went from living in a perfect hub of transit to living in an absolute dead zone, where bus service is failing and unreliable, and I am over a mile from the nearest train. It's hard to be on time when scheduled buses might just fail to appear, on time or ever. As most of my friends have spent most of their lives in these kinds of transit dead zones, I have a new perspective on their so-called "flakiness." I'm glad this dude has the resources of time and money to either command all of his own transportation, or to command so thoroughly any external draws on his time, but man. I still don't wanna be his friend.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:49 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


We had a cookout this weekend and invited the usual group of people, maybe 20 or so folks. We got not one single response.

What ever happened to manners? I don't like your friends.
posted by davebush at 9:49 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I may have told this story before, but in the pre-cellphone days things could be just as shitty. On my 21st birthday I had arranged with a bunch of friends to meet at a particular pub. On turning up at said pub at the appointed hour, I discovered that the place had *burnt down* over the holiday (this was the very start of term, so word had yet to get around). As I was standing there in the pouring rain I realised that every single person I had invited was going to turn up, discover that the pub had burnt down and go home again & I had no way to reach any of them. Needless to say, this sucked.
posted by pharm at 9:50 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Invite me to a cookout (or any event with food), and I promise to RSVP promptly! And that RSVP will probably be a Yessssss! because I love food.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:50 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


What are you supposed to do in that circumstance?

Put something on the invite that says "hey, we have to make sure there is enough for everyone, so please RSVP by $DATE, thanks!" and if people choose to ignore that, it's on them.
posted by elizardbits at 9:51 AM on September 2 [8 favorites]


As I watched the video I definitely had a "Preach on, brother!" reaction, having recognized a lot of the behavior he points out from my own interactions. I do think cell phones, particularly the ability to text or email, has allowed people to take the cowards way out of flaking on events at the last minute while avoiding the difficult task of dealing with the real-time anger or disappointment of the people you are inconveniencing (and I'm just as guilty of this as anyone).

But when I think about my own life in the age before and after ubiquitous cell phone ownership it's not as if I can draw a line in the sand to when people I previously knew as polite and respectful as far as keeping plans suddenly became flaky and rude the day they got a cell phone package. All I can remember in the days before cell phones were that things were actually much worse because getting full scale stood up occurred much more frequently.

I can think of one long term (as in, a guy I knew since Kindergarten) friendship that ended because I simply could not get over the anger I felt when I made plans to meet this friend at a nightclub about an hour away from my apartment and he just never showed up at all. If the same situation were to occur today, even if he wanted to avoid the awkward phone call, he could have at least sent a quick text so I didn't have to waste my time. Really thinking about it, this is definitely a "looking at the past through rose-colored glasses" situation.
posted by The Gooch at 9:51 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


We had a cookout this weekend and invited the usual group of people, maybe 20 or so folks. We got not one single response. What are you supposed to do in that circumstance?

YES. This is mostly what I'm talking about not "endless back and forth" (C'mon sometimes it's difficult to get on the same page) not people cancelling close to the event (Shit happens! Thanks for telling me!) not being late (Again, shit happens, and if I know you're a latester I'll work around it) but the complete refusal to respond.

Granted some of this is going down now that my friends are rapidly aging out of their 20s but OH GOD THE RAGE.
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


I am one of those people who have my feelings easily hurt when I try very hard to get friends to firm up yes/no to events and get crickets. It got to the point where people would either not bother to RSVP or just send me a FB message midway through the event I was having saying "yes, I am on my way" or "no, sorry." The worst was when people would ask me to rearrange my event to suit their schedules, despite having taken a poll of folks to work out the best date. I had a very awful birthday that way. I stopped making plans that involved other folks. Now I just text/FB/tweet: "Gonna be at such and such place on such and such date at such and such time. You wanna come, that would be aces."

Of course, this was in Quebec where my social life sucked anyway, so hopefully Ontario will be better?
posted by Kitteh at 9:59 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Buddy of mine in college (pre-cell phone days) was notorious for not only making a big deal about when she was available and making everyone change their plans to suit her, but also flaking on said plans on the day of.

Me: Hey B, we're gonna go to the park on Tuesday and lay in the sunshine. Wanna come?
B: Ooooh yes!! That's awesome!!! That's exactly what I want to do.
Me: Cool, we're heading out around noon. You can ride with me.
B: Oh, well, see. I have class at 11:30 on Tuesday, and I heard it was going to rain Tuesday afternoon, could we do it Wednesday instead?
Me: Um, sure. I'll check, but I think everybody's open then.
B: Fabulous!!! Can we do 10 am instead of lunchtime? Cause I want to meet this classmate for lunch.
Me: Yeah, why not...we'll make it work.

Come Wednesday, we wait for 45 minutes at her dorm, and she never shows. We call her room and her roommate says she went to the movies with some dude. We go to the park and do our thing only to return to frantic calls from her on all of our answering machines about how sooooooo sorry she was for missing and she got her schedule confused and can we do it again tomorrow.

Now, we've got a friend who does the same shit, except he's in his late 30s and should know better. Thanks to cell phones, we just say, "Cool. Text if you get here." and go about our plans.

Flaky assholes will be assholes regardless of the their age or technology level.
posted by teleri025 at 10:04 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Put something on the invite that says "hey, we have to make sure there is enough for everyone, so please RSVP by $DATE, thanks!"

Thoughtful humans shouldn't require this prompt.
posted by davebush at 10:06 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Every day I probably overhear 3-5 conversations along the lines of "I'll be there in five minutes" or "I'm coming inside now." Then just fucking do it. If there's less than a five minute overlap between your call and you getting to a place, you're not even announcing your plans, you're just narrating your life.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:06 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


There seems to be this weird divide among people over this.

Some people seem to see others being late as this utterly sacred matter of honor, and a person being late is a direct insult and a conscious sign of disrespect that can't be tolerated.

Other people are not uptight, self-absorbed assholes. If I'm meeting a friend for a drink and they're late, it's not a stain upon my honor and a monstrous act of disrespect if they're late.

This is because I actually like my friends and enjoy spending time with them. If my time was really so valuable I'd be out curing cancer or whatever rather than seeing them. Some friends I've learned are often late/will flake, and I just factor that into my plans. It's no big deal, because I like them. If I didn't like them I just wouldn't invite them to things.

It's just bizarre to me how worked up people get over this, as if punctuality and schedules were more important than the actual people.

And no, despite saulgoodman's condemnation of everyone on his lawn, this isn't because I and my friends have no ability to plan or commit to plans. I amazingly can hold down a job and make meetings. My friends and I are generally on time. It's just sometimes, shit happens, and you just let it slide because it's really not a big deal. If it's something that has an absolute time limit like a movie or dinner reservation, if the person is late they're SOL. But otherwise, 5, 10 minutes is no problem. Beyond that and people know they're fucking up and will apologize accordingly.

Call me old school (I am obviously), but I often don't even think to bring my cellphone with me when I go out. It's just not on the same level of priority as grabbing my keys. So those who know me generally get it figured out that if they want to actually see me, they've got to honor that commitment they made on Friday, or last night, or four hours ago. It can be done.

This is basically the height of selfishness. You make yourself intentionally difficult to contact and plan with and then just demand your friends deal with it?
posted by Sangermaine at 10:08 AM on September 2 [12 favorites]


It's just bizarre to me how worked up people get over this, as if punctuality and schedules were more important than the actual people.

Well, as the author of the 2nd linked piece says, that's exactly so. He values his time more than anything else at all, including other people.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:09 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Those over a certain age will appreciate the same trend was spotted and called out long ago about pervasive private car ownership.

The "be there shortly" disease affected many drivers then, and still does. The time spent doing all the things a car requires other than actually travelling is not very well accounted for by many of us.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:10 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Thoughtful humans shouldn't require this prompt.

They shouldn't, but so many of them do....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:11 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Some people seem to see others being late as this utterly sacred matter of honor, and a person being late is a direct insult and a conscious sign of disrespect that can't be tolerated.

Regularly being late (which I will define as >15 minutes after the planned time) is pretty much this. Very few people think that occasional delays, which happen to us all, are proof that you are a horrible person -- those people who do believe that are also jerks.
posted by jeather at 10:12 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Regularly being late (which I will define as >15 minutes after the planned time) is pretty much this.

But it really isn't. It could just be a sign of bad time management skills. One of my friends is habitually about that late. We've called her on it, but for whatever reason she keeps doing it. In all other ways she's a great friend and a cool person, so we just factor it in.

I don't think she's doing it as a conscious insult to us, she's just bad at managing her time. And hell, even if it is a conscious insult to us, who cares? We like her, we like spending time with her, and we're glad when she does show up. It just doesn't seem worth getting mad about.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:18 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


I can't agree. Anyone who habitually wastes a friend's time isn't trying hard enough and needs to improve. She might be awesome when she finally shows up, but making you sit there waiting for 30 or 40 minutes just isn't a respectful way to be a friend. Obviously, shit happens and we can all forgive occasional lateness, but when it's every damn time - that's not cool.
posted by davebush at 10:26 AM on September 2 [17 favorites]


It's just bizarre to me how worked up people get over this, as if punctuality and schedules were more important than the actual people.

Society is give and take. You can respect the realness & variation of somebody else's life, while also valuing your own time and life and asking others to do that, too.

I like being punctual because it indicates a respect for somebody else's time. Being punctual is also being honest (You want me there at 1PM? I can't get there until 1.30, because I'm meeting somebody for lunch and let's be real, I like hanging out with her and I'm not going to rush out), and honesty is good for communication.
posted by entropone at 10:30 AM on September 2


My flaky friends won't even answer their @#$% cell phones when they're running late and I'm sitting by myself holding a table at a busy restaurant and wondering where the hell they are. After one too many late arrivals where they told me about some lovely new shop they decided to stop in on the way, I just stopped making plans with them.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:31 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


So those who know me generally get it figured out that if they want to actually see me, they've got to honor that commitment they made on Friday, or last night, or four hours ago. It can be done.

This is basically the height of selfishness. You make yourself intentionally difficult to contact and plan with and then just demand your friends deal with it?


I can be contacted; just not in the last hour or so before the actual agreed upon meeting time. Such is the HEIGHT of selfishness, I guess.
posted by philip-random at 10:31 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Attention white people in San Francisco! You are the flakiest motherfuckers on the planet.

The Bold Italic: What's Up With The San Francisco Yes?
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:41 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


One of my friends is habitually about that late. We've called her on it, but for whatever reason she keeps doing it. In all other ways she's a great friend and a cool person, so we just factor it in.

If you think that your friend is worth it, then you think it's worth it. I've made that decision also. But I do think it's an insult, and I do think that people who are late know that it upsets others. I also think that it's a pretty clear "my time is more important than yours" stance, even it is not consciously done. (Again, if this is regularly, and more than the approximately fifteen minutes that can be vagaries of life.)
posted by jeather at 10:41 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


Every day I probably overhear 3-5 conversations along the lines of "I'll be there in five minutes" or "I'm coming inside now."

The best are the ones where the speaker is lolling casually at a sidewalk cafe and on the phone is saying "yeah, still sitting in traffic, don't know when I'll make it," and the urge to shriek THEY"RE LYING LYYYYING towards the phone is very strong.
posted by elizardbits at 10:48 AM on September 2 [27 favorites]


Some people seem to see others being late as this utterly sacred matter of honor, and a person being late is a direct insult and a conscious sign of disrespect that can't be tolerated.

Other people are not uptight, self-absorbed assholes. If I'm meeting a friend for a drink and they're late, it's not a stain upon my honor and a monstrous act of disrespect if they're late.


Wow this complete evenhanded assessment of the two sides makes it so hard to decide with whom we are supposed to sympathize.
posted by winna at 10:48 AM on September 2 [25 favorites]


But I do think it's an insult, and I do think that people who are late know that it upsets others.

I think in some cases this is true, but I (a generally punctual person) have a friend (a generally late person) who views ANY TIME spent waiting as a great loss. I like to get to the train 5-7 minutes earlier than it's scheduled to arrive. She sees sprinting down the platform and jumping onto the train as it pulls away as the perfect scenario, and sees the 7 minutes I spent waiting as a complete waste of time.

Of course, trains and buses come early sometimes. In which case she misses the train and we don't ride together. I'm fine with letting her know that she can meet me late and keeping my original plans, and I only schedule time-sensitive events with her that I know I'll be fine spending the first bit of by myself.

I've accepted that she needs a little transportation-related drama in her life to feel like herself, and that's an acceptable cost of her (very pleasant and supportive) company. No big deal. I have plenty of quirks of my own!
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:51 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


"yeah, still sitting in traffic, don't know when I'll make it,"

I'm on my way = I haven't left yet.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:52 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


hi everyone i think the world should revolve around me and my inability and/or unwillingness to act like a functioning, considerate adult and if you can't deal then you're just uptight, maaaaan
posted by entropicamericana at 10:53 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it's the disrespect masquerading as "spontaneousness" that really bugs me.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:54 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


I wonder whether the subject of this article is a big cell phone user? The article does not say.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 10:56 AM on September 2


Yes, I agree, it is entirely reasonable to decide that someone's friendship is worth it because they are regularly late or whatever other rude thing they do, because sometimes it is. But to say "my time spent waiting is a great loss, it's okay that other people have to wait for me because their time spent waiting isn't" is pretty overtly selfish. That might be worth it for you -- as I have said, I have decided that it is worth it for me for some people and not for others, and tbh I have started to passive-aggressively arrive late to one aunt's house when I travel alone because we spent years waiting for them as they'd saunter in 45 minutes after dinner was going to be served with their Starbucks, I am not any sort of angel of arrival times.
posted by jeather at 10:57 AM on September 2


(i did actually do the HE'S LYING thing once but 1. i was super drunky and 2. the lie was so fucking egregious - the guy was standing on the corner of 5th avenue and 21st street telling his lady friend/wife/idk that his business in london was taking longer than expected and he was gonna be stuck there ("here") for another week, and me and my friend were like GIRL YOU BETTER RUN CAUSE THIS LYING MOTHERFUCKER IS IN NEW YORK CITY - and it was very satisfying)
posted by elizardbits at 10:59 AM on September 2 [64 favorites]


hi everyone i think the world should revolve around me and my inability and/or unwillingness to act like a functioning, considerate adult and if you can't deal then you're just uptight, maaaaan

Yeah, basically. It's this idea of "respect" that I think the fundamental disagreement springs from.

I just don't see other people being late as having anything to do with respect, or that the concept has any meaning. I'm not some gangster that has to police my respect and honor. I spend time with people because I like to spend time with them, so their punctuality is secondary to that. If I didn't enjoy spending time with them, then I would just stop seeing people whose lateness bothered me.

Also this "my time is valuable" thing. If my time were so valuable that I can't stand sparing a minute, I just wouldn't schedule leisure time with other people. If I'm that busy I just do my work and see people later when I have more time. If I am seeing people, I have the time for it.

What seems selfish to me, and indicative of the world revolving around you, is this insistence that you're so valuable and special and that anything happening in the universe outside of yourself that would cause others to be late is surely an attack on you. No one should be intentionally late, but if it happens, it happens.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:05 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


one aunt's house when I travel alone because we spent years waiting for them as they'd saunter in 45 minutes after

Families are funny. My uncle got married this past month which meant my whole (very small) family was together and on someone else's time schedule. After years of growing up with them, I've learned the various tricks to cope with their loose understanding of how time works.

My dad and I are good at being exactly on time, which may include being completely not ready 10 minutes before go time. We both are pretty good about accurately judging how long things take.

My mom is perpetually late to everything, always.

My grandmother is one of those sorts who gets ready to go several hours ahead of time and then sits by the front door telling everyone how late they're going to be if they don't get a move on right this instant.

We had to be downstairs in the hotel for a ceremony beginning at 6:30pm.

Told my mom it started at 5:45.
Told my dad to make sure mom was downstairs by 6:15.
Told my grandma it started at 7.

Everyone was ready at exactly the right time, no one felt rushed, grandma didn't have to worry that I wasn't ready in time (she was dressed and sitting by the door at 5:30), I wasn't annoyed by anyone, it was perfect.

It only took me 28 years of life to figure this out but my god, it was so beautiful.
posted by phunniemee at 11:08 AM on September 2 [41 favorites]


Regularly being late (which I will define as >15 minutes after the planned time) is pretty much this.

But it really isn't. It could just be a sign of bad time management skills.


Yeah, here's the thing, if you know you have bad time management skills and you know you are frequently late, it's your responsibility to make allowances for that when you're doing something time sensitive. What do these folks do when they are late for work? Is it okay? How do they function?

I mean, I get that there are friends you can rely on to show up to a movie 15 minutes early so they can get good seats and see the trailers, and there are friends who will be late to their own damn funeral. And typically, after you've demonstrated you're the latter to me, I stop relying on you to show up on time. But don't act like I'm some sort of monster because I left your tickets at will call and went to the show without you because you were late yet again. And don't get pissed that I got on the plane without you because you can't understand that security takes more than 10 minutes to get through.
posted by teleri025 at 11:09 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


I just don't see other people being late as having anything to do with respect, or that the concept has any meaning.

how do you special snowflakes handle doctors' appointments? wait, i know the answer to that one. how do you special snowflakes handle job interviews?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:10 AM on September 2 [13 favorites]


I'm overtly punctual, and get quite anxious when I'm the first person there, especially if I have to hold seats for others. I get worked up about leaving on "time" and know it's something I have to work on being a little more understanding and flexible about.

But what we're focusing on here, the San Francisco confirmation, the person who asks everyone to work around their schedule only to bail, the person who does not care about silly human things like clocks, that's my nemesis.

What really drives me nuts is when a group of people is delayed by just one person. The person who's running late. The person who orders one last drink just moments before we're supposed to leave for the movie or the game. If they want to live like that, good for them. But for whatever reason it's nearly impossible to get the group moving and leave the straggler behind. So instead of, "it's time to go. See you there!" the entire group gets to be late. Yippee!
posted by thecjm at 11:13 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


how do you special snowflakes handle doctors' appointments? wait, i know the answer to that one. how do you special snowflakes handle job interviews?

How do you uptight assholes handle, you know, life? Do you just walk around in a constant state of rage when even the slightest thing happens that upsets your planned schedule? Is it stressful to live in a state of constant paranoia that your friends may be insulting you at any moment?

It seems to me the only types who consider themselves "special snowflakes" and are consumed with their own self-importance are those like you.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:15 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


how do you special snowflakes handle doctors' appointments? wait, i know the answer to that one.

Wait, there are doctors who are on time for appointments?

I find that my forgiving approach to lateness means I handle it pretty well when my doctor doesn't show up until 50-60 minutes after my appointment time. Which happens literally every single time. With all of my medical professionals except, weirdly, my dentist, who is also the only medical professional that doesn't require me to sit for an hour in a freezing room unclothed.

Being forgiving/understanding of late folks doesn't equal being chronically late oneself, by the way.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:16 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure why "expecting people will do the things that they say they are going to do" translates to "uptight asshole."
posted by phunniemee at 11:17 AM on September 2 [36 favorites]


this insistence that you're so valuable and special and that anything happening in the universe outside of yourself that would cause others to be late is surely an attack on you.

Has anyone claimed this? I am pretty sure no one has claimed this.
posted by jeather at 11:17 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


how do you special snowflakes handle doctors' appointments? wait, i know the answer to that one.

Well, because I show up to my appointments at least fifteen minutes in advance, I frequently get seen earlier because of late people not showing up on time.
posted by winna at 11:18 AM on September 2 [8 favorites]


There was a NYT article about this (or, a related?) phenomenon a while back: sry gotta bail mayb nxt tme
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:26 AM on September 2


This special snowflake loves getting his choice of seat at the movies.
posted by thecjm at 11:33 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Those over a certain age will appreciate the same trend was spotted and called out long ago about pervasive private car ownership.

This is true, and a good point.
We've had 50+ years to generate a set of social expectations around driving and, for a given area, they are pretty well understood.
(for example, in areas with lots of traffic, "Traffic was a bear" is a generally accepted excuse for being a bit late, or in areas with limited parking, "Man, I circled the block forever".
"I had to get gas first", however, would be seen as a failure of planning)

On the other hand, cell phones are still relatively new, and society as a whole has not worked out how to integrate them into social situations.
If you're waiting for someone, are you obligated to call them, or do they call you?
When do you call? 5 minutes, 10?
Does "I'll be there" really mean "I'll be there" when plans can be co-ordinated in real-time?

Etiquette and expectations are a fluid thing and it takes time for the general populace to arrive on a shared set of requirements.
Think about how many of would probably be considered unforgivable rude only 100 years ago.
posted by madajb at 11:49 AM on September 2


Find-replace "Seattle" for "San Francisco" in this comment and it's just as true. Hell, the whole west coast is like that. It annoyed me SO MUCH when I moved here, but now... I guess I'm one of them? What are cell phones for if not to say "hey, don't wait for me, have fun"? Life is much nicer when you're not too uptight about things.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:51 AM on September 2


Wait I thought Seattle was for spooky introverts who'd rather not look or talk to another human being
posted by The Whelk at 11:53 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Do you just walk around in a constant state of rage when even the slightest thing happens that upsets your planned schedule?

Yes, hence the broadsword.

Is it stressful to live in a state of constant paranoia that your friends may be insulting you at any moment?

No, drinking solves that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:55 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


If you're waiting for someone, are you obligated to call them, or do they call you?

Text. You text them. Or they text you.
posted by thecjm at 11:55 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I think part of it too is that "making plans" can mean two different things to two different people, especially when the plans are vague:

"We should go see that movie on Sunday."
"Yeah, totally."

To some people, a Plan has now been made. They won't go see the movie by themselves on Friday or Saturday, and if they don't hear from the other by lunchtime on Sunday, they'll reach out the them to see when they want to go see the movie.

To other people, an Option been created. If nothing comes up on Sunday, they'll call up the other and make a Plan. But to them, just announcing the opportunity they could do something on a certain day isn't a Plan...it's an invitation to make a Plan if everything lines up right.

To people who see that as a Plan, the other group can seem like insensitive flakes. But to them, the Planners can come across as clingy squares.

Neither is entirely right or wrong (and obviously a lot of people are a little bit of both groups), it's just that the definition of what they think they're doing is totally different.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:56 AM on September 2 [11 favorites]


I just don't see other people being late as having anything to do with respect, or that the concept has any meaning. I'm not some gangster that has to police my respect and honor.

It has everything to do with it. You are riding on the assumption that the other person has nothing better to do than stand around for you. I have a seriously disabled person I have to look after -- if I make plans, for instance, I have to go through hoops to make them. You don't show up -- you are spitting in my face. You show up when you want? Really? How could I, despite the enormous responsibilities on my life, come on time and you can't?

And it has absolutely nothing to do with being a flake -- that's merely a passive-aggressive mask people use so they do not have to take responsibility for their manipulative behavior. It is a way of establishing a pecking order and let the other person know you are the one who is controlling both the situation and their emotions. You are way down on their list of priorities and that is the sneaky way they do it. They are "busy" and too busy (and cool) for you -- never mind that your schedule may be ten times as busy, but somehow you make sure your word means something.

I have seen this game a million times -- I had students pull it on me and then feign ditziness --but when the game doesn't work because I don't put up with garbage, boy, does that studied flakiness suddenly disappear and they can make it on time when it is a question of passing or failing.

I had the same experience in social situations -- people like that put on the cutesy-dizzy facade all until they see me driving off because they were two minutes late. Next time, that person can come half an hour early.

So no, no excuses. If your word means nothing, you are nothing. If you don't understand that we all have work, family, and other things going on, too, then you live with the consequences, but I don't have time to be that terminal enabler...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:08 PM on September 2 [18 favorites]


This is why the instant some Activity is suggested I whip out my datebook ( yes I have a date book) and sort it out RIGHT THEN AND THERE . You quickly figure out if they wanted to do it or are being polite.
posted by The Whelk at 12:14 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Never in my life has " just see where the day takes us! "Gone well.
posted by The Whelk at 12:14 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


If not cancelling plans and being on time for things were superpowers, I'd be Galactus.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:19 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Is this something you'd have to have a cellphone to understand?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:19 PM on September 2


And it has absolutely nothing to do with being a flake -- that's merely a passive-aggressive mask people use so they do not have to take responsibility for their manipulative behavior. It is a way of establishing a pecking order and let the other person know you are the one who is controlling both the situation and their emotions. You are way down on their list of priorities and that is the sneaky way they do it. They are "busy" and too busy (and cool) for you -- never mind that your schedule may be ten times as busy, but somehow you make sure your word means something.

This is sheer paranoia. I have to give my friends the benefit of the doubt that at least they are not out to harm and use me because they're my friends. Yeah, that leaves me open to being used, but that's a risk you have to take when you create relationships.

What's the point of even interacting with others if you can't give them even this bit of trust, that they aren't intentionally trying to fuck with you and demean you? That every interaction isn't some mind game?

I had the same experience in social situations -- people like that put on the cutesy-dizzy facade all until they see me driving off because they were two minutes late. Next time, that person can come half an hour early.

Or they'll just stop coming out with you. Jesus, I can't imagine treating my friends like that.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:24 PM on September 2 [15 favorites]


If not cancelling plans and being on time for things were superpowers, I'd be Galactus.

i would be just some guy

some guy who does not have superpowers
posted by Greg Nog at 12:25 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Never in my life has " just see where the day takes us!" gone well.

Yeah, I have really bad ADHD so if I just 'see where the day takes me' I end up spending fourteen hours playing Towns and eating string cheese.
posted by winna at 12:27 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


Substitute Towns with Rollercoaster Tycoon and winna I think you and I might be the same person.
posted by phunniemee at 12:29 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


WE HAVE TO KEEP TO OUR RIGOROUS SCHEDULE WITH REASONABLE BREAKS FOR DOWNTIME.

god no wonder I was so happy in Switzerland.
posted by The Whelk at 12:29 PM on September 2 [11 favorites]


> i would be just some guy

some guy who does not have superpowers


That's okay, in this scenario quite of a few of my friends would be The Avengers.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:38 PM on September 2



How do you uptight assholes handle, you know, life? Do you just walk around in a constant state of rage


I detect some rage in this comment, perhaps even uptightness. Or do you just call everybody asshole?
posted by philip-random at 12:41 PM on September 2


You know Captain America would make a reasonable effort to be on time and keep everyone informed of delays. So there.
posted by The Whelk at 12:42 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


You know Captain America would make a reasonable effort to be on time and keep everyone informed of delays. So there.

Pretty sure it's Bucky who sets his calendar every morning, while Steve is showering.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:45 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


It is a way of establishing a pecking order and let the other person know you are the one who is controlling both the situation and their emotions. You are way down on their list of priorities and that is the sneaky way they do it.

Wow. I can promise that absolutely never even once in my life have I been late as a way of establishing a pecking order.

Christ I don't even have a motherfucking pecking order, except in the sense that my immediate family and SO have a handful of trump cards that they pretty much never play.

What kind of machiavellian bastards is everyone else hanging out with?!?
posted by like_a_friend at 12:47 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Once I was watching my brother's kids and was supposed to take them back to their house after an outing and stay with them there. Brother said "Ok, if you open the garage door by turning the handle left, you can get in. Don't turn it right or it will lock!" Guess what I accidentally did. Ok, well, change of plan, kids, I took them over to a friends' house and watched them there. I left multiple messages on his answering machine so he wouldn't be calling his own house, frantic, wondering where his kids were.

But he did! Because he didn't know how to access his messages remotely. He finally got home, but because I'd inadvertantly locked the garage door, and he, to my disbelief, had no goddamn front door key on him because he always came in through the garage, had to break a window on his own house, get inside, listen to my many messages and then come get his kids (who were asleep because it was 10pm).

If we'd had cell phones, I would still have locked his stupid door, but he wouldn't have spent any time imagining his kids with me in a ditch somewhere.

(I still don't know why he didn't have a key to his own house.)
posted by emjaybee at 12:52 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


What kind of machiavellian bastards is everyone else hanging out with?!?

I have had personal experience with people who get invited to things, hem and haw over it, ask us to change the venue, and then cancel last minute claiming they're "not feeling well". And then post photos of their wild night out to Twitter and Facebook.

And it gets to the point where, yeah, I know we just invited you over to share a bottle of wine and chat, but you didn't need to lie about not wanting to come over! And you knew it was just going to be the three of us, you could have suggested we all go out together, but instead decided to do this passive-aggressive bullshit and stand us up for your more interesting friends. But apparently I just have a stick up my ass about people being polite and responsible, so.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:58 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


What kind of machiavellian bastards is everyone else hanging out with?!?

Seriously. Maybe conflict comes from a different definition of "friends":

"people I like and want to see" vs "potential adversaries against whom I must be ever-vigilant lest they manipulate me"
posted by Sangermaine at 1:08 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


potential adversaries against whom I must be ever-vigilant lest they manipulate me

Ha, no. I just stop hanging out with those people who are chronically late, everybody wins.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:15 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


What kind of machiavellian bastards is everyone else hanging out with?!?

I don't think my worst-offender thinks of herself as doing this stuff to establish a pecking order, but the fact remains that she thinks nothing of reserving several hours of my life and then going incommunicado.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 1:15 PM on September 2 [5 favorites]


The worst are the super extroverted flakes who will take charge of making plans for everyone, get everyone involved and enthusiastic, and then flake on everyone by finding something else that interests them more, so 6 people arrive at a restaurant at the height of a mealtime rush to find no reservations made, or arrive at an empty house for a party.

those people must be destroyed
posted by elizardbits at 1:20 PM on September 2 [9 favorites]


Can we be clear that no one here (literally no one I'm sure) is saying occasional lateness due to traffic or something vital coming up at the last minute or whatever is rude. It's persistent unreliable lateness (I would say of more than 15 mins) which people are complaining about.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:21 PM on September 2 [9 favorites]


It's persistent unreliable lateness (I would say of more than 15 mins) which people are complaining about.

Exactly this. I have acquaintances who are always 15 to 60 minutes late, such that their friends factor this in when making plans with them. Me, I can't handle it.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:23 PM on September 2


A little over a decade ago, on the cusp of the ubiquitous cell-phone era, I was travelling across the country for a family event back at stately Biscuit Manor. I was working a couple of time zones away from home, at a job that (while enjoyable) paid much less that it should have. I was obliged to make the trip on the cheap, and the most inexpensive flight option left me with a layover of six or seven hours in an intermediary city. I thought, "Well, that's not the worst thing in the world -- I could take the airport bus into the city and have lunch with my friends A & B." (Just to clarify, A & B were not a couple or anything, but they were friends and coworkers who knew each other well and lived about eight blocks apart.)

About six weeks ahead, I dropped them each a line saying I would be in town for a few hours on Sunday the __th of next month and did they want to go for lunch. Both said yes yes yes. Maybe ten days ahead of my flight, I herniated a disc in my back and was in the worst physical agony of my life. I contacted A & B about a week ahead to say that I was in some distress, but I would still like to do my best to meet them for lunch, but please could we make it someplace near the train station (the most convenient place to their homes where the airport shuttle dropped people off). They both expressed sympathy and said absolutely. What little disposable cash I had was being eaten up by medical treatments, so if we were cancelling lunch, I wanted to know.

The day of the flight I was still in considerable pain and hobbling on a cane. I landed at the airport at about 10:00 AM and called A & B, arranging to meet in an hour at the station. Both confirmed they were still up for it. I paid a significant percentage of the cash I had left for the next week for a return on the airporter and headed downtown.

At the station, no sign of either. I waited for a bit, then called A; no answer. I called B, and her roommate said, "she's in the shower." Okay. I figured A was en route and B might be tardy. I hung out at the station. In considerable physical discomfort, I had to switch from standing to sitting to leaning against a wall to crouching every couple of minutes to keep the pain in check.

After half an hour, no A or B. I called each again. No answer chez A, and the roommate of B said, "I have no idea where she is."

Neither one had a cell, so I dared not even leave the station in case I missed them. There were one or two hugely overpriced and dismal places to get food in the train station but I was very broke and had earmarked what little I had for the lunch we all agreed on. Another half hour, no sign of either of them. I called again, and no answer anywhere. Lacking any further word from either one, I repeated this every 30 to 45 min for the next five hours and heard nothing from either one of them. Eventually I grabbed an absurdly expensive and quite stale muffin and hungry, broke, and in searing pain, I got on the shuttle and headed back to the airport.

I later learned that A had woken up hung over from a night of carousing, and after agreeing to meet me had decided to go back to bed because B was meeting me. B had decided to hang out at home that day with her boyfriend and didn't feel she needed to tell me this, because after all, I was getting together with A. She also berated me for ringing her phone regularly all day, which neither she, her boyfriend, or her roommate appreciated. The concept of picking it up to stop the ringing occurred to no one, it seems.

I must say, at the time I resented their cavalier treatment of plans they had agreed to and felt dismayed to be treated so. However, now I see I am an uptight entitled asshole who is clearly no fun to be around. Thanks, manic pixie dream mefites who have opened my eyes to the wonders of spontaneity!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:24 PM on September 2 [43 favorites]


that is terrible and i hope they both suffer permanent hemorrhoids.
posted by elizardbits at 1:32 PM on September 2 [19 favorites]


If your next story involves how you took a clever revenge on A&B, a lot of us would be cheering you on.
posted by jeather at 1:35 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


"people I like and want to see" vs "potential adversaries against whom I must be ever-vigilant lest they manipulate me"

Look it's not easy living in King's Landing but the wine is good, okay?

I relalize always nominating myself to be the super-extroverted Serious Planner who gets everyone in line ( gues who used to book talent for a living!) meansthe burden of planning and socialization falls on me. All. The. Time. But NO ONE ELSE CAN DO IT RIG DAMNIT THERE ARE RULES.
posted by The Whelk at 1:35 PM on September 2


ricochet biscuit, that is simply horrific. Were you still friends with them after that?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:36 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Especially if your revenge includes a crop duster!
posted by Pudhoho at 1:41 PM on September 2


I'm favoriting that not cause I enjoy it but because jesus christ man
posted by The Whelk at 1:41 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


It's persistent unreliable lateness (I would say of more than 15 mins) which people are complaining about.

Well, that's what half of people are complaining about. The other half are resenting the idea that being consistently 15 minutes late is the same as being the actual human monsters described by richochet biscuit.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:42 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


ricochet biscuit, that is simply horrific. Were you still friends with them after that?

A not so much. B, I patched things up with, which is just as well: she has since become the the mom in this story.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:54 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


but why would anyone be consistently 15 mins late? I don't understand


* stamps foot *
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:59 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


The other half are resenting the idea that being consistently 15 minutes late is the same as being the actual human monsters described by richochet biscuit.

... and then there's that blowback the other way where one's unwillingness to carry one's cellphone with them at all times is seen as the height selfishness.

yes, I've now responded twice on that particular barb; I will now lay down my sword and prepare for passage from the Grey Havens as my time in this realm seems done
posted by philip-random at 2:03 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


but why would anyone be consistently 15 mins late? I don't understand


* stamps foot *

I know someone who is so consistently late by roughly 15 minutes that on paper, her boss changed her schedule by 15 minutes so she wouldn't be constantly written up. Boss did so and never told her because if she had been aware that her day officially started 15 minutes later, she would still be 15 minutes late.

She's damn lucky she's good at her job.
posted by teleri025 at 2:10 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


so the answer ultimately is simple. If you're charming enough, fun enough, skillful enough, generous enough, good enough, there is perhaps no end to the amount of shit people will put up with from you.

Now, let's define enough.

and yes, I am now leaving
posted by philip-random at 2:18 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


but why would anyone be consistently 15 mins late? I don't understand

In the case of my consistently-15-min-late friend, I imagine her reasoning goes as follows:

"Well my friends, who live and work in [big city], insist on making plans that start at the hour or the half hour. Whereas I live and work in [small city], and the train to [big city] runs every two hours on the 45. It's not like I can just leave my job two hours early for the sake of being prompt to happy hour."
posted by like_a_friend at 2:20 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


There are also the people who seem to be laboring under the false belief that no matter where they are or where they are going it will take them no more than ten minutes to get there.
posted by phunniemee at 2:25 PM on September 2 [15 favorites]


I think people are just late, cell phone or no. I run programs in my library that have very clear start times. After a year at my job I have just gotten used to starting everything 15 minutes late, because that is when everybody starts rolling in. If I ever say anything about it I have to hear about how everyone is on "_____ville time." It's a pain in the ass.
posted by Biblio at 2:45 PM on September 2


You should be honored by my lateness
That I would even show up to this fake shit

posted by Apocryphon at 2:57 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


So for people who hate lateness: nobody has friends from other cultures where being late sometimes is socially normal?

OR, maybe all your friends are, like German accountants or something.
posted by FJT at 3:13 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Being consistently >15 minutes late is rude and/or selfish, but not evil. It can be worth it to see these people. (Also, being consistently 15 minutes late because the train runs once an hour and no one is willing to take that schedule into consideration -- well, the rudeness lives in someone else.)
posted by jeather at 3:16 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


The last time my sister visited Melbourne, I made plans to meet up with her and my niece and nephew for lunch. I live about 50 minutes from the Melbourne CBD by tram, and they were staying at a hotel which is actually pretty close to my place, but she wanted to go sightseeing in the morning before meeting me so I agreed to meet with them in the city. So after confirming via text message that we were still meeting about an hour beforehand, I set off on my journey.

As the tram approached the CBD, I texted her again to ask where exactly she wanted to meet. The response: they'd gone back to the hotel because "the kids had had enough". As in, sometime within about 10 minutes of confirming that we were meeting, she'd decided to take the kids back to the hotel, and it never even occurred to her that maybe she ought to let me know. Long story short, I ended up spending nearly two hours in travel time to end up at a hotel which is a ten minute walk from my flat.

So, I guess I don't really mind cellphones making plans more casual and flexible, but for chrissakes use the basic functionality of the damn things to keep me informed. That's all I ask.
posted by lwb at 3:25 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


A person with two kids on vacation might just be overwhelmed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:17 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I have this theory that fully 40% of people do not understand the basic premise that time continues to pass even after they leave home.

I also have noticed that an awful lot of people believe that every drive will take fifteen minutes, no matter the distance. New York to Washington? Sure, shouldn't take more than fifteen minutes, maybe twenty if traffic is really bad.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:29 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


"but why would anyone be consistently 15 mins late? I don't understand"

My husband, who is perpetually late (much to my midwestern annoyance; I am typically 15 minutes early and have to sit in the car with my glove-box novel until it's a socially appropriate time to knock on the door), always believes he is "ready to leave" but never actually GETS READY until it is time to walk out the door. "Ready to leave" apparently means he has knocked off all substantial tasks before leaving, but not done things like fix his hair and put his shoes on and OH THAT ONE E-MAIL I JUST THOUGHT OF and find his wallet and water the flowers and on and on and on. When I am "ready to leave" I have my shoes and coat on and am sitting by the front door watching for my ride while reading a book. He apparently means "ready to get ready to leave." But he labors under the belief that if we're leaving at 6 p.m., he just needs to be "ready to leave" at 6 p.m.

He has a casual relationship with time generally and has no idea how long anything takes, drastically underestimating how long everything will take and drastically overscheduling himself as a result.

My BFF is also perpetually late ... she just underestimates time constantly. We've been friends for 20 years. I lie to her about when I'm picking her up, but then every now and then show up at the time I told her, just so she doesn't start to think "6:30" means "7 p.m."

Their lateness is a constant low-level annoyance to me (like someone who slurps hot soup ... irritating, but hardly grounds for breaking off relations), but I accept it's just how they perceive time. The thing that I, as a punctual person, appreciate is if late people acknowledge the reality of their lateness. People who SWEAR they can be on time for a 2 p.m. appointment and NEVER HAVE BEEN drive me nuts. People who say, "2 p.m. is good but can you put it on my calendar as 1:30 so I'll be on time?" or who say "I'll try to be there at 6 but I have a tendency to run late, is that okay?" are much better. Then I don't get all anxious and antsy. People don't want to acknowledge their lateness tendencies precisely because we attach moral judgments to it and they get embarrassed, but I'd rather someone be late and give me accurate information about their lateness than promise to be on time and be late.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:44 PM on September 2 [9 favorites]


but why would anyone be consistently 15 mins late? I don't understand
Because they aren't good at managing little pebbles of minutes and seconds. I used to always be 15 minutes late. I would not consider myself rude or manipulative. I was just late because I had to take the cat litter out and change the bag and put in fresh litter and apologize to the cat for messing with her stuff and oops I forgot my sweater where is my clean grey sweater, oh, it's not clean, how did that happen, do I have time to clean - no, stop it, just grab any sweater at all, or you're going to be late, also, is it sunny? I might need my sunglasses. Am I overdressed? And who moved my keys?

I learned to build in a half hour for those little pebbles and now I'm never late. But it took like 15 years of being responsible for my own schedule and a kind boyfriend to point out that my lateness was more rude than it was endearing for me to figure it out.

Sorry to everyone that I ever made wait. Sincerely! I was an asshole. Sometimes I still am. I am just a bit scatterbrained.
posted by sockermom at 4:50 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


My Mom is perpetually 20 minutes late to nearly everything that doesnt have a hard start like a movie cause wait a phone call, and this counter needs a wash off, where are my contacts, did I have the oven on, etc. she has been like this for as long as I can remember so I just tell her things are starting 20 minutes earlier then they are and everything works out.
posted by The Whelk at 5:06 PM on September 2


The kind of thing I'm talking about is more like, "hey let's have a recording session next month on x date at x time." Lots of excited discussion in the intervening weeks specifically referencing the agreed date/time. Day arrives. Time away from family and other important adult commitments arranged, miles driven to rehearsal space. But, oops, nobody remembered now that the day's here and there's a big game this weekend anyway, so...
posted by saulgoodman at 5:08 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Wow, are there a lot of straw men being assaulted in this thread, particularly on the side of those who think being late is never ever a problem.

Look, this is not rocket science. When people say that constantly being late (seriously, nobody is arguing that occasional lateness is a problem) is disrespectful, what they're saying is very simple:

We all only have so much time alive. That sounds super melodramatic, but it's the truth. And look, most of us (even those who are punctual) accept that nobody is going to be optimizing their life for perfect utilization of their time. We all sometimes choose to sleep in, or spend a lazy day playing videogames, or waste an hour just watching the world go by.

Here's the thing: these are things we choose to do. If I want to spend my evenings grinding in a videogame, or pursuing a degree, or just sitting around staring at the wall, all of those are my choices to make.

If, however, you constantly make plans with people and then leave them sitting around waiting for you, you are literally communicating to them: my time is more important than yours. I do not respect that your needs are as valid as my own. If it benefits me / lets me watch one more episode of a show / lets me score slightly more points with my boss / etc., I will make choices for you about your own time without consulting you.

This is incredibly rude behavior, and no, claiming that you're forgetful / airheaded / etc. is not an excuse.
posted by tocts at 5:47 PM on September 2 [19 favorites]


If, however, you constantly make plans with people and then leave them sitting around waiting for you, you are literally communicating to them: my time is more important than yours. I do not respect that your needs are as valid as my own. If it benefits me / lets me watch one more episode of a show / lets me score slightly more points with my boss / etc., I will make choices for you about your own time without consulting you.

This is incredibly rude behavior, and no, claiming that you're forgetful / airheaded / etc. is not an excuse.


Comedian Barry Sobel has a great bit about how L.A. is the only place where "I flaked." is considered an acceptable excuse. "Hey, where were you? We had plans to meet at 3:00 and you never showed up." "Sorry, I flaked."

But emergencies and other mitigating circumstances aside, I agree with you.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:56 PM on September 2


I'm habitually late! 10-20 minutes. It's because I have no concept of how much interstitial time is required for things, and because I will remember whatever is the absolute shortest amount of time it has ever taken me to drive somewhere as "the amount of time it takes to drive there," and then I will take that amount of time, subtract it from the time I need to be there, and that's when I'll start getting ready to go. Like Eyebrows' husband, above. So if I need to be somewhere at 7:15, and once I managed to drive there in the middle of Sunday afternoon in 25 minutes, and by the way I mean that I turned the key in my car at 1:06 and arrived on the street where the building is at 1:31, I will start getting ready to go at ten minutes of seven. And then I am inevitably twenty to thirty minutes late and I have NO IDEA WHY.

I've actually gotten a lot better about this since I had kids. Not good; just better. Wanna know what did it? By-the-minute late fees at preschool. A dollar a minute for the first five minutes, five dollars a minute until 15 minutes late, ten dollars a minute thereafter. That was the level of hammer needed to make me realize that I need to start thinking about getting ready to go a solid half hour before I have to walk out the door.
posted by KathrynT at 8:04 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


That's just what I'm like, KathrynT.

I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, after gradually realising that all the problems I had always had staying focused during conversations weren't normal. I assumed that was the extent of it, and only when researching my diagnosis did I realise there might be a reason for my always, always, always being late, apart from my being an asshole. It turns out that problems understanding and managing time are pretty well established in people with ADHD. The thing is, I don't feel like I don't perceive time. I'm sure people wonder how a lifetime of being shockingly late every day could fail to teach someone that their sense of time was broken, but it's hard to understand that you simply can't trust yourself to do something that feels so basic and obvious. Now that I live with my boyfriend, who's one of those people with a little pocket watch going in his head all day long, I believe him when he tells me what time we need to leave to get places on time. But I'll tell you, everything he says sounds ridiculous to me. I think, come on, he has to be fucking with me this time. So we leave forty minutes before I think we need to, and get where we're going exactly on time.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:23 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Wow, are there a lot of straw men being assaulted in this thread, particularly on the side of those who think being late is never ever a problem.

This is amazing, a straw snake, an oroboros of projection and invention.

This thread: also amazing. Look people, the two sides here clearly live in different worlds. I'm a late dude. Lots of my friends are late people too. I get that many people care a lot about being on time: may your friends also care about being on time. If you have friends who do not care about it, speak up. If they don't change their ways with you, ditch 'em.

This is an ask/guess level of difference and it shows in the defensiveness and vehemence of those who value timeliness. To them lateness is a slap in face, to folks like me, a certain level of lateness is totally fine. The trick is how we communicate across this divide.

Okay and also it bears saying that of course there are situations where I feel timeliness is important! Someone in town briefly, at an airport, appointments etc etc.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:48 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


This is an ask/guess level of difference and it shows in the defensiveness and vehemence of those who value timeliness.

It seems a tad disingenuous to act like nobody on team flake has acted defensive in this thread. I'm not going to go re-read the whole thread, but seriously, ctrl-f "uptight", "self-absorbed", "asshole", etc, or read the many sarcastic or hyperbolic comments where people who value timeliness are basically told they're terrible people.
posted by tocts at 4:07 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


The kind of thing I'm talking about is more like, "hey let's have a recording session next month on x date at x time."

Dude, musicians.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:41 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


This is definitely something I struggle with, because people's perceptions of time, and concept of when it is appropriate to show up vary so much. Invited to a dinner party? Better be there within 15 minutes of the start time. Invited to a house party? Get ready for it to be awkward fast if you show up less than 2 hours after the start time.

For me, cell phones are pretty much 100% positive for late people or flaky people. I'd much rather be able to hang out some place comfortable to be alone while waiting for people. I don't mind late people at all if I can chill out in my house, read a book in a library, or finish up one last thing at work while I am waiting. I do feel hugely disrespected if I'm holding down a 6 top alone in a crowded restaurant, at happy hour by myself, or waiting outside someone else's house after taking public transit. And by "disrespect" I don't mean some sort of Shakespearean I-bite-my-thumb-at-you, just that someone who routinely makes me feel awful is probably not a good friend for me. At least with cell phones I can go somewhere more comfortable and wait.

I suspect the habit of meeting up at place 1 before going to place 2 is part of that - a meat-market bar can be really uncomfortable alone (especially early in the night!), but it's fine waiting for friends at someone's house.
posted by fermezporte at 5:34 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Sitting' in my car right now because I'm socially inappropriately early ... to the doctor's office. At least I can putz around on the internet these days!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:08 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


A person with two kids on vacation might just be overwhelmed.

True. Her husband was also with them, I should probably have said. I'd still be willing to accept that some kind of kid-related chaos had caused both adults to be unable to spare 30 seconds to send a text message, if any such explanation had been offered. When I pointed out that the lack of notification had wasted two hours of my afternoon, she just shrugged. Not even a token apology.

Also, she's been kind of flaky since long before she had kids. My dad still complains bitterly about the time the whole family spent like seven hours and hundreds of dollars to travel to her graduation and take her out for dinner afterwards, only for her to decide (after we'd already arrived) to go hang out with her boyfriend instead.

But we love her (and her kids) so we still make plans to do things with her, we just no longer make the kinds of plans which require a significant amount of effort, so that it's not quite so rage-inducing when she flakes out. Similarly I have friends who are regularly hours late and so I try to mostly make plans with them which involve hanging out at my place or a cafe or somewhere where I won't mind hanging out by myself for a bit.

I feel like mostly if the social ties are strong enough, you work around it, and we generally reserve most of our grar over lateness and general flakiness for people whose company we don't really place that much value on to begin with.
posted by lwb at 8:29 AM on September 3


Also, she's been kind of flaky since long before she had kids. My dad still complains bitterly about the time the whole family spent like seven hours and hundreds of dollars to travel to her graduation and take her out for dinner afterwards, only for her to decide (after we'd already arrived) to go hang out with her boyfriend instead.

At one time I had a roommate who was legendary for this. One friend of hers might invite her off to see a concert (which offer she would accept); the friend would buy good tickets with the understanding that she would reimburse the cost of her ticket, and travel a couple of hours to pick her up, leaving it to me as the roommate to explain that she had received an invitation to a party tonight just this afternoon and decided she wanted to go to that instead. No explanation, no apology, no offer of reimbursement; just a unilateral change of plans. I asked her about this once and her defense was, "What does it matter what order I get invited to things? I go to the one I think I will enjoy the most."

To her credit, she seemed to be largely immune to the disappointment of getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop when someone else unilaterally changed plans on her. I accompanied her to her university graduation ceremony because her long-term boyfriend had decided to skip the ceremony -- he had been invited to a pool party for that afternoon, too, and thought that sounded like more fun. I was more offended on her behalf than she seemed to be (although she told me after much wine months later that she was hurt).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:53 AM on September 3


I've been on both ends of this - I've been the person who got flaky on time, and I've been flaked out on.

Theater is what cured me of the chronic lateness, right quick. It is VERY, VERY bad for a stage manager to turn up late to a rehearsal; you're the one that the entire company is relying on to always be on time and organized for everything. And so during one show, when I did turn up late to a rehearsal, the director informed me - on no uncertain terms, at great length and volume, and in front of the entire cast - that that kind of thing Would Not Fly. It was a serious come-to-Jesus moment, and I busted my ass to at least be on time to professional things ever since; I am much, much better about that today.

And since then I've also started thinking of being stuck at school when my mother was running late to pick me up from some afterschool whatever. She's always been one of those people sockermom talks about here - before she goes anywhere she has to get on a jacket, wait no she wanted that other jacket, and oh wait now that she's in this closet let's just get out this thing that I wanted to deal with later, wait do I have time to just wipe off the counter because that'll just take two minutes, oh there's that thing that belongs in the basement let me just run that down, oh now that I'm down in the basement I found that other thing...and cut to me, sitting outside my high school for twenty minutes after everyone else had left and wondering what the hell. Sometimes I'd even have turned down offers of other rides because "Mom's probably going to be here any minute."

The worst instance was when I was stuck at the school for an hour with no sign of her, so I begged the janitor to let me back inside to use the pay phone and call home. I was terrified that she'd gotten hurt or there was some problem or she'd just plain forgotten, but Mom had actually tried starting a load of laundry at the last minute and just gotten caught up in the whole thing of stain treatment and color sorting and what not.

Now, she got defensive when I called, and snapped at me. So clearly she felt bad and knew that this was a big fuckup, and I know that. But it still didn't feel all that great to be 14 and standing in the school cafeteria and thinking "wow, Mom cares about laundry more than she cares about me." So while I totally understand how some people can get distractible when it comes to judging time, and that they know it's a problem and totally don't mean it, and shit happens and what not, I also never want to make anyone feel sucky the way I did, and that's the other reason I fought those same tendencies in myself.

However - if I'd had a cell phone when my friend's mom offered me a ride home that day, rather than being locked out of the school for an hour, I could have called home quick and said "oh, hey, great, you're still there - Mrs. Juper is offering me a ride home, Mom, so you can just stay put and she'll take care of it," and Mom could have gotten back to laundry and I wouldn't have been sitting in front of my high school for an hour wondering what the hell was happening.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:31 AM on September 3 [6 favorites]


Invited to a dinner party? Better be there within 15 minutes of the start time. Invited to a house party? Get ready for it to be awkward fast if you show up less than 2 hours after the start time.

OH MY GOD. PUNK TIME. PUUUUUUUUNKKKK TIMEEEEEE.

Ok, so this being Metafilter, I'm not sure there's a ton of people reading this who actively go to DIY punk shows, but there's a thing called "punk time" which refers to how shows tend to always run behind. But the thing is, punk time is very carefully calibrated at each venue...

So if you show up on time for an in-store, you're half an hour early...

...and if you show up on time to a hardcore basement show in Bridgeport, you're two hours early...

...and if you show up two hours late at a show at a straight-edge house, you basically already missed the show, and also you have to stand around awkwardly with a backpack full of beer because they don't want you to drink.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:49 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


we generally reserve most of our grar over lateness and general flakiness for people whose company we don't really place that much value on to begin with.

Which is interesting when viewed in the context of people who claim the lateness is a power-hierarchy move.

(Also, being consistently 15 minutes late because the train runs once an hour and no one is willing to take that schedule into consideration -- well, the rudeness lives in someone else.)

The problem is that the later start time to accommodate the one person would, in turn, screw over 6-7 other people, who'd have to wander around for an hour or two after work waiting for the plans to start. (In theory, not a big deal, but in practice, everyone will just say fuck it and go home.)

Now, we know her and we know her reasons and nobody has ever given a single shit that she arrives late. I'm just saying, sometimes the reason behind lateness isn't "late person can't manage time" as much as "inflexible schedule meets immovable circumstances."
posted by like_a_friend at 10:21 AM on September 3


Who decided uptight asshole was a good pejorative? Probably the people who shit all over other people and feel they shouldn't be called on it.
posted by srboisvert at 10:58 AM on September 3


Someone who has never watched Workaholics, I suppose.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:21 AM on September 3


Theater is what cured me of the chronic lateness, right quick.

My son works in theater and told me that the rule he was told was:

Early = On time
On time = Late
Late = Fired
posted by octothorpe at 11:31 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


I don't even remember how we made plans pre-cell phone because my college friends are almost all late folks. We must have had a meeting place and then a backup plan?

And since then I've also started thinking of being stuck at school when my mother was running late to pick me up from some afterschool whatever. She's always been one of those people sockermom talks about here - before she goes anywhere she has to get on a jacket, wait no she wanted that other jacket, and oh wait now that she's in this closet let's just get out this thing that I wanted to deal with later, wait do I have time to just wipe off the counter because that'll just take two minutes, oh there's that thing that belongs in the basement let me just run that down, oh now that I'm down in the basement I found that other thing...

This is what living with ADD is like, from my experience. (I'm not trying to diagnose your mom or anything. I just recognize the inability to get out of the fucking house on time. I'm terrible at it. Medication has made it better, although I'm still far from perfect.)

(On preview, I see that was basically said, but yeah, add another tick to the column)
posted by maryr at 11:54 AM on September 3


Okay and also it bears saying that of course there are situations where I feel timeliness is important! Someone in town briefly, at an airport, appointments etc etc.

But see, I don't understand this at all. Why are you capable of being on time (and believe that it's important to be on time) for the examples you mention, but "let's meet for dinner at 6:30" is something that it's ok to be a half hour late for?
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:58 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Ah dang Empress, your mom sounds like mine. Not only did she forget me a school a number of times because she drove by the building and "in her head she was already home and cooking dinner" but she also cost me the honor roll three years running in middle school. Our school had the stupid rule that to be on the honor roll, you had to have straight As and no absences. Four tardies counted as an absence. Guess who's Mom could never get her to school on time? Yeah, that's why in 8th grade I begged to ride the bus rather than have her drop me off and pick me up, cause at least that way I could finally get on the honor roll.
posted by teleri025 at 12:04 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


The problem is that the later start time to accommodate the one person would, in turn, screw over 6-7 other people, who'd have to wander around for an hour or two after work waiting for the plans to start.

I misunderstood the first time. I thought it was starting 15 minutes before she could get there due to train schedules (as in "I can get there at 6:15 because the train gets in at 6:10, but everyone insists we plan to meet at 6"), not an hour or more. Then yeah, no one is late or early or rude, it's just an unfortunate timing issue.
posted by jeather at 12:06 PM on September 3


Why are you capable of being on time (and believe that it's important to be on time) for the examples you mention, but "let's meet for dinner at 6:30" is something that it's ok to be a half hour late for?

Because I would rather make plans I might be late for and have the chance to see you than not see you at all.
posted by maryr at 12:35 PM on September 3


(The pragmatic answer is "6:30 is going to be really hard for me, how about 7?" but maybe 6:30 works for everyone but me. I don't know how many people are coming to dinner in this hypothetical.)
posted by maryr at 12:37 PM on September 3


Communication is one thing. I haven't seen anyone in this thread take issue with someone saying, "6:30 is probably ok, but I may be late." We're talking about people who make solid plans for 6:30 and then text at 6:45 to say "oh running late lol". Every time.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 12:42 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Ok, so this being Metafilter, I'm not sure there's a ton of people reading this who actively go to DIY punk shows, but there's a thing called "punk time" which refers to how shows tend to always run behind. But the thing is, punk time is very carefully calibrated at each venue...

I know nothing of punk shows, but I have a bunch of friends who do drag shows and there is a similar thing. I learned this the hard way - drag shows are the one event for which I will be at least forty minutes late on purpose, because they never start on time.
posted by winna at 3:02 PM on September 3


Guess who's Mom could never get her to school on time?

That's nothing. My mom was a teacher at the same school my brother and I attended our entire childhoods and we had to ride to school every morning with my dad so we wouldn't be late.

We lived three minutes from school.
posted by phunniemee at 3:11 PM on September 3 [4 favorites]


(Why didn't you walk?)
posted by maryr at 3:37 PM on September 3


No sidewalks. It was either walk on a very busy road or in a ditch full of yellow jackets and dead possums.

The south!
posted by phunniemee at 3:42 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


"The worst instance was when I was stuck at the school for an hour with no sign of her, so I begged the janitor to let me back inside to use the pay phone and call home. I was terrified that she'd gotten hurt or there was some problem or she'd just plain forgotten, but Mom had actually tried starting a load of laundry at the last minute and just gotten caught up in the whole thing of stain treatment and color sorting and what not."

Sounds like my mom. I had so many moments of waiting around for an hour, the last kid at school, all the fucking time, because "Oh, I just got talking to to Tim...." And then there was the time she neglected to pick me up at the airport because, oh, she went over to her friend's house and they were talking....
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:05 AM on September 4


See, I am a bit understanding of Mom because I can get that way too. It's a function of having so much god-damn stuff that you need to do that you get overwhelmed, and sometimes it's not until you've walked past something that you remember "oh shit, yeah, I was supposed to do [foo] to that thing."

Honestly, one of the big things that's helped keep me from letting this make me late is having a lower standard for house cleanliness than Mom - I can't tell you how many mornings running I've been at the door to leave for work and paused to think "oh shit, look at that, I should vacuum - eh, I'll do it tomorrow, I gotta get the bus". Mom would sooner cartwheel naked down Main Street than let that kind of thing slide.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on September 4


I was actually wondering if OCD sufferers get caught up the same way ADDs do - a sort of opposite approach. If ADD sufferers are too disorganized and distracted and trying to do one thing after another after another in the morning, then I wonder if people with OCD get fixated on one task or worry in the morning and lose track of time? (Sincere curiousity here - this is not a "Boy, OCD makes you clean things!" joke.)
posted by maryr at 9:14 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Short answer: yes.

Long answer: My mother stopped at the department store on the way to get us from school and was trying to decide between two belts, one which was the right color but the wrong width and one that was the right width but the wrong color. (Two different shades of taupe, 3/4" vs. 1".) She entered a fugue state due to her inability to decide and actually lost 45 minutes, and only came to when the clerk shook her aware while trying to figure out whether or not to call 911. She was, obviously, late to pick us up. That was the incident that prompted her to finally seek medical treatment for her OCD.
posted by KathrynT at 9:41 AM on September 4 [4 favorites]


See, late to this thread. I'm late because I have ADD and I have to find my phone/ keys/ wallet/ some other thing that is already in my pocket. Because I have trouble comprehending time, and sometimes it takes 1 minute to give the dog clean water and other times it takes 10 minutes. And I may think it's Thursday the 6th and not Tuesday the 9th, or I may think I'm supposed to be there at 2:15 instead of 12:15. Because I am from a family of late people, and it is how I was brought up. And because I have some physical problems and sometimes I can get ready in 30 minutes and other times it takes 2 hours because I have too much inflammation and stiffness.

And. because I am depressed and can't get out of bed and face the world. And. because I have social phobias that can make leaving the house quite a challenge some days.

So, lots of times I skip stuff because being 40 minutes late is too awful, even though it's an event that isn't time sensitive. I have learned(finally!) some skills for being better organized and being on time - my smart phone is an enormous help. It's not intentional rudeness. It's not an inflated ego. I genuinely hate it and I'm sorry it's such a nuisance. When people really mind, I really make an extra effort. I've learned that more than a few lateniks have similar issues. I'd start a club, but I'd show up late ...
posted by Mom at 5:44 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


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