Last week, my wife and I got in an argument as we were driving to a friend's house for a dinner engagement. We were running 20 minutes late, however my wife was adamant that we stop to pick up a bottle of wine. I argued that it would be a greater courtesy to arrive as soon as we could. We stopped and got wine and flowers and arrived nearly an hour late. Our friends were gracious, and the gifts were appreciated. What would have been better: arriving an hour late with gifts, or arriving a little late empty handed? Clearly, arriving on time with gifts is the best, but we barely make our flights.
Your hosts may have been gracious, but they were silently grinding their teeth as they watched the roast become a cinder and all their other guests become drunk waiting for you. Apologizing for your tardiness and giftlessness would have been preferable. A thank you the next day could have included dropping off a bottle of wine. I'm also chronically late, for which there is no excuse, but at least I know to put some systems in place to reduce my inconvenience of others. I never have to stop on the way for a hostess gift because I have a stash of wine and, in the mad rush out the door, all I have to do is grab a bottle. I would also think the prospect of facing the TSA while frantic and panting would help get you to the airport on time.
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More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
"My In-Laws Should Be Outlawed: Dear Prudence offers advice on overly critical, criminal-minded, and cringe-worthy in-laws during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com." Posted April 18, 2011.
"Baby on Board: Dear Prudence advises a mom weary of rude subway riders interfering with her baby's commute—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com." Posted April 11, 2011.
"Let's Tie the NOT! Dear Prudence advises a reader whose mate is reluctant to wed, even after five years and a baby together—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com." Posted April 4, 2011.
"Awkward Family Photos: Dear Prudence advises a reader who accidentally sent sexy self-portraits to her in-laws—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com." Posted March 28, 2011.