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Miss Manners: Start without chronically late sister

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister will not commit and keep to a time when her family and our parents will visit us, but will say, “Don’t plan around us; when we get there, we will get there” – and then get there three to five hours late.

Other times, we will set a time to meet at a mid-place, and after we have already arrived, we will get a text or call where she says, “Oh, don’t plan around us; when we get there, we will get there.”

But what are we supposed to do when we are sitting at the appointed place, waiting? She seems to feel that by sweetly saying, “Oh, don’t plan around us,” that relieves her of any responsibility for our time.

We are currently trying to coordinate schedules for another family get-together. What can I say to my sister to let her know her sweet statement is really saying, “Our time is more important than your time, so wait on us until we get there”?

GENTLE READER: Why don’t you just take your sister up on her offer and start without her?

You could say, “Since you always ask us not to plan around you, here is what we are planning” and cite the relevant time frames. If she doesn’t show up within them, continue to your next activity or return home, as the case may be.

As she has repeatedly begged you not to take her schedule into account when planning yours, Miss Manners fails to see why you should not do so. A pleasant side effect may be that this gets her attention and makes her try harder next time not to miss the fun.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How would you express thanks when the event was uncomfortable? Not so glorious!

GENTLE READER: “Thank you so much for inviting me.”

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, dearmissmanners@; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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