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The Postponing Guest

I have a story about a guest who just couldn’t sort out his obligations. We’ll call him “Jim.”

It was the day of the grand opening of a new Chinese restaurant just down the street from where I live, and my husband and I were excited to check it out. We called up Jim a week prior and asked if he wanted to come. I knew Jim was having a bit of trouble financially and had been complaining about being sick and tired of eating nothing but Mac and Cheese, so I figured that taking him out to a Chinese restaurant would be a nice change of pace for him. I even made it explicitly clear that we would be paying for his dinner (even though he doesn’t seem to be able to return the same favor to us, but that’s a story for another time). The plan was he’d come over, we’d go have dinner at the restaurant, and then come back home to hang out, watch a movie, and play cards.

I called him up the day he was to come over, and he said he’d be over right after work. Jim gets off work at 5pm, so we were expecting him at around 5:30pm. At 6, there’s no sign of Jim. We call him, since normally he’s very prompt, and he replies “Oh, something came up and I’m running a little late. I’ll be there at 7.” He refused to tell us exactly what was keeping him, however, which I found odd.

So we continue to wait, and we’re starting to get hungry. At 7:15, there’s still no sign of Jim. So we call him again. This time he tells us “Sorry guys, I can’t make it, I’m moving today and am still packing things up.”

What? MOVING? Yes, he was moving into a new apartment that day after work, and instead of telling us that he couldn’t make it, he acted like he was still going to be able to come over. He’d known when he was moving for several days (it wasn’t something that just “came up”), and never once thought call us and try and reschedule our dinner. He never once said, “Sorry, I forgot when we made plans that I was moving today and I can’t make it tonight.” No, he acted like he was still coming over, and he made us wait for two hours before he cancelled. I was baffled!

And the icing on the cake? The next day, he calls us and asks if we can bring our truck to help him move his couch! Even if my husband and I weren’t both at work that day, we were too upset with him at that time to help him move anything. 1101-08


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ashley July 21, 2015, 11:03 am

    I know people who have done stuff like that.

    It drives me nuts.

    It’s gotten to a point where we say “We’re leaving at _____, and if you’re not here by then, we’re sorry but you’ll have to make your own way to the place”

    • mark July 22, 2015, 10:23 am

      I do this too, it saves so much frustration.

  • Kelowna July 21, 2015, 11:14 am

    “so I figured that taking him out to a Chinese restaurant would be a nice change of pace for him. I even made it explicitly clear that we would be paying for his dinner (even though he doesn’t seem to be able to return the same favor to us, but that’s a story for another time).”

    When you’re doing something kind for someone, you should never expect the favour in return. You stated that you knew he was having some financial trouble. It sounds like you don’t really do things for others out of the kindness of your heart. Your story leaves a bad impression.

    • vanessaga81 July 21, 2015, 11:39 am

      I had the same thought.

    • Sharon Johnson July 21, 2015, 11:44 am

      I don’t think the story leaves a bad impression. People don’t usually expect the exact favors returned–he could cook for them, or bring over a treat sometime. Some people are givers, and some are takers.

      • Dee July 21, 2015, 12:38 pm

        It sounds as if Jim never reciprocates. That’s rude. If you offer hospitality then you are absolutely in your right to look forward to a return invitation. That’s how friendship works – it’s not just a one-sided contribution, as it sounds as if it is with Jim. What I don’t understand is why OP is baffled by Jim’s selfish behaviour, as OP is quite aware that he doesn’t reciprocate their friendship.

    • abby July 21, 2015, 12:30 pm

      Jim was definitely rude, but I had the same thought reading it when she wrote that he wouldn’t be able to return the favor. The OP makes the invite sound more like charity and expecting Jim to be overcome with gratitude than an honest desire for his company at dinner.

      All that said, once it was clear (like 4:30 or so) that Jim was not going to finish his moving plans in time for dinner, he should have cancelled so the OP wasn’t waiting on him. Sounds like he wasn’t ready to forgo his free dinner but just couldn’t get finished in time.

      • Amanda H. July 21, 2015, 6:32 pm

        I completely agree with your second paragraph. Sounds like Jim was still angling for the dinner even on the day of, and completely failed at etiquette when he continued to promise he’d show when it was plainly obvious he wasn’t going to finish on time.

        My husband has occasionally faced similar misjudgments of how long it can take to move. In our church, it’s a common occurrence that people will help each other move in and out of an area, usually by loading/unloading the truck. My husband showed up to one such move (truck-loading) with a bunch of other guys, only to discover that the owner hadn’t even started packing boxes yet. They did what they could, but what should’ve been a simple 2-hour-at-most truck-loading turned into 5+ hours of moving what they could while one member of the family moving slowly packed boxes and the other two sat around snacking and watching. I will say that family was lucky they were moving away, because if I had seen them again I might have had some angry words for them over the whole thing.

        • NostalgicGal July 22, 2015, 12:51 pm

          Friends that needed to disappear and reappear type moving (last day for old place, and first day for new place MEET not overlap ad midnight) and they could afford the moving van for one day. They were not packed and all she could do is run around and boss everyone, so finally when I told her to wash up the dishes so they could get packed, went and powerpacked their bedroom (bed was unmade and not stripped status, etc) and came out to find she hadn’t touched the dishes so I packed them dirty (she complained bitterly about that one for some time after)… we busted rears all day and got over to the new place, to have her order 1 medium two topping pizza and 2 2liter bottles of soda to feed 7 people (including her and her SO). That was our “reward” for a full day of slaving, and she had no problem grabbing the first slice and the last one. She couldn’t understand it when the rest of us left after that, and left them to get that truck empty by 8 am by themselves. (Yes at least he had the sense to be massively embarrassed by all her shenanigans that day, we might have gotten more done with her not having been there).

          • oregonbird October 21, 2015, 12:38 pm

            Just pointing out that *he* hadn’t packed, washed dishes or the bedclothes. So his “sense of massive embarrassment” would appear to be grounded in the fact that a woman hadn’t taken on and completed his work as well as her own. Funny how some people just can’t seem to get it together enough to do ALL THE WORK. (For “people” read “wimmenz”.) But at least he gets a pass for such laziness and privilege from Polite Society, because Patriarchy.

    • Kheldarson July 21, 2015, 1:35 pm

      I figured that the impression was that he always takes, but never gives. So even in good times, they foot the bill, not him.

    • Airelenaren July 21, 2015, 2:18 pm

      This also rubbed me the wrong way. I still think his behavior was worse, but none of them come out smelling like roses in this story.
      Why would you expect someone who can barely afford decent food for himself to pay for your dinner, even if it is in return for something? And doing something nice for someone stops being a kindness when you start comparing and calculating. Why do these people even socialize?

    • Raven July 21, 2015, 5:35 pm

      Agreed. That comment was snarky and unnecessary to the story. OP came off poorly here.

    • Ergala July 21, 2015, 6:24 pm

      I had the same exact thought.

      • Enna July 22, 2015, 3:29 am

        Friendship should be a two way thing. I got fed up with a friend who would spend all her money on drinks and never save enough for her share of the taxi on the night back. So I made a point of going home earlier when I was tired anyway. Another friend she drives, I don’t; so when we get a taxi I don’t mind paying as she has given me plenty of lifts in her car.

        Personally if I was in OP’s position and Jim had a habit of “take take take” even in good times – but saying that even in bad times it’s important not to take the pee – I would not have offered to treat him to a meal even during his “poor” time.

    • lakey July 21, 2015, 11:40 pm

      It didn’t leave me with a bad impression. I think that for friendships or relationships to work, there needs to be balance. If one person is always doing the helping, paying, driving, and the other person never reciprocates, it just doesn’t work.

    • mark July 22, 2015, 10:31 am

      I think you are reading too much into this statement. As someone else said this likely is more a statement that Jim is a takes plenty but gives little back.

      In my relationships I expect give and take. It doesn’t have to balance or anything, but if it is always a one street… well I probably will back away some.

    • Monkeys mommy July 22, 2015, 12:02 pm

      Agreed, I didn’t like the tone from the start.

  • MyWorldtwo July 21, 2015, 11:20 am

    There a saying that goes something like “No good deed goes unpunished”

    Jim was rude and inconsiderate! I would not invite him again for anything. However I think I would have given strong thought to telling him you would be glad to help him with his couch and then not showing up. I wonder how he would have felt being on the other side.

    • Michellep July 21, 2015, 11:31 am

      The op never stated or even gave the impression that she or her husband offered to help move the couch.

      • Lisa July 21, 2015, 11:49 am

        MyWorldtwo is suggesting that OP should’ve tried to get back at Jim by saying they would help with the couch and then blowing him off. Not a nice suggestion.

        • Michellep July 24, 2015, 7:57 am

          Yes, I misunderstood.

    • Ergala July 21, 2015, 6:28 pm

      Are you kidding me? You are actually suggesting they say “Sure we can help you move!” and then not show up. Not only would that have possibly cost him money in regards to having to hire a truck last minute or pay someone to come move it, but he could be facing a deadline for moving out and if he was there even 1 extra day he could have been charged for an entire month’s rent for that one day. I know that here that has happened to people I know. They go 2 days over their move out date and have to pay the entire month’s rent.

      Him missing dinner didn’t cost them anything. It’s not like they prepaid for his meal and then he was a no show. If his move is anything like ours have been in the past he may have thought he’d be able to take a break for dinner. I know that we’ve done that, taken a 2 hour break from packing and loading to rest and eat. For all you know he had help and they didn’t show up or left early so he was stuck doing it all alone suddenly.

      I am guessing that the OP thinks she is closer than she is to Jim since he didn’t even tell them he was moving. You would think that if they were close he would have been discussing it with them.

      • Enna July 22, 2015, 3:35 am

        I agree with the first part of your post that offering to help Jim and then not showing up would be mean if he could be charged a whole month’s rent.

        However Jim was rude and unfair in standing them up. It does not matter how close or “far” you are from someone you do NOT stand people up: you may not want to say why you can’t make it but you always contact the people you are meant to meet and apologise as soon as possible. Jim lied – he said he was held up at work and said he would make it then said a little later he couldn’t make it. If he had been straight from the start that he couldn’t make it there wouldn’t be an issue.

      • Lynne July 22, 2015, 8:14 am

        I agree, Ergala, that MyWorldtwo’s suggestion is outrageous, and such a response would be petty and grossly more inconvenient to Jim than the OP’s were inconvenienced when Jim stood them up. However, I object to the statement that his missing dinner didn’t cost them anything. Jim cost the OP and her husband time and comfort — delaying their meal, and waiting around on the edge of their seats. That’s a cost, if not a financial one. Money isn’t the only or even the most important consideration in this discussion.

        • Ergala July 24, 2015, 4:08 pm

          The op and her spouse chose to wait that long to order. I know that if I am waiting more than 15 minutes I order. I find it more rude to sit at a table without ordering even if you are waiting, you have no control over the actions of others, only yourself.

          • LadyV July 26, 2015, 12:16 pm

            They didn’t wait that long to order – they weren’t even at the restaurant yet. At least that’s my understanding, since OP said Jim was supposed to come to their house and they would all go to the restaurant together. Having said that – unless it was an EXTREMELY close friend (which doesn’t seem to be the case here) who had a specific and legitimate reason for being late, there’s no way I would wait two hours for someone to show up. After the first call, when he said he wouldn’t be available for another hour, I would have said, “Well, it’s a weeknight and we don’t want to be out late – so we’re going to the restaurant and you can meet us there.” And I would have ordered as soon as I got there.

          • Ergala July 27, 2015, 7:30 am

            Exactly LadyV. I know that if I have to wait for longer than 30 minutes for someone to show up before we leave for our destination I’m going to to leave. I’ll call them and if I can’t get a hold of them I’ll leave a note on the door. If I am already at that establishment 15 minutes is tops. I don’t want to be “that” customer that sits there at a table without ordering until their guests arrive. Not only is it that just kind of odd but it’s also rude to the waitstaff whom rely on tables turning for more tips.

      • Monkeys mommy July 22, 2015, 12:12 pm

        I think Myworldtwo was just being cheeky; I don’t think it was a real suggestion.

      • Skaramouche July 22, 2015, 1:46 pm

        Interesting…you are awfully verbose about everything Jim would hypothetically have had to suffer if his friends had pulled the same stunt that seems to be routine for him. OP has made it very clear that it’s not a one-off incident. I say it would have served him right even though I do believe the person originally making the suggestion was not serious and was being ironic and funny! Sometimes the only way to teach people that certain behaviours are unacceptable is to force them to suffer the same thing to which they subject other people. Luckily, most of us are decent and would not actually consider this option except in jest.

        >> Him missing dinner didn’t cost them anything.
        My turn to ask if you’re “kidding me”. So in your opinion, it is okay to abuse your friends as long as it does not cost any money?

        Are you in a bad mood today or something? 😛 Because normally I find myself agreeing with you but today your post defies logic and I’m speechless 😛 😛 :P. What does how close the OP is to Jim have to do with the fact that he blew them off, didn’t tell them until 2 hours past his ETA that he would be blowing them off, offered no sincere apology or explanation and then had the gall to call the next day and ask for help?

        • Ergala July 24, 2015, 4:11 pm

          Not in a bad mood. Just have had this happen to me on both sides. When it happened to me I simply said forget about it and went on with life. I’ve also had to cancel plans last minute and the friend held it against me for a long time.

          As for paying for him all the time…for heavens sake just stop paying! I make it very clear that I am not paying for others in a tactful way. If I am paying I volunteer to and without expecting to be treated back. If I were to tally up how many times I have paid for people and the favor not returned I’d be counting hundreds of dollars. Toss in giving rides without gas compensation or babysitting without them reciprocating for us. I offer and I don’t expect anything back. If I did I’d state that from the get go instead of stewing about it.

  • Jewel July 21, 2015, 11:43 am

    There are some people who so want to avoid disappointing people that they make wrong choices and end up angering the very ones they didn’t want to disappoint.

    One time, I ran a volunteer project and there was one person who signed up to take a key role. Over time, it was clear she wasn’t pulling her weight. I talked with her about it and she promised to step up and get the job done. She didn’t, so we had another discussion. Lather, rinse, repeat. She was still not doing the work. As time went by, the work piled up. After the project reached “critical mass” and she was doing nothing different, I replaced her with another volunteer who finished up the job in a timely manner. As it turns out, the first volunteer had over-committed her schedule and was having some health problems. In her attempt to be a people pleaser, she avoided the right answer (to resign her post or at least ask for help) in a mistaken attempt to avoid disappointing the group. The result, of course, was actually worse in that she greatly angered several other volunteers and damaged her own reputation.

    It’s possible that Jim has this same mindset. Or, he’s just plain an inconsiderate and selfish person. Either way, unless he sincerely apologizes for his poor behavior, I’d probably do a “friendship fade” from his life.

    • kingsrings July 21, 2015, 12:41 pm

      This sounds very familiar as I am helping a lot with a volunteer charity project right now. We’ve had that same issue with our publicity person to the point where the charity head finally “fired” (I use quotes since we’re all unpaid volunteers) her. And getting others in this large group to step up and help more than they have is like pulling teeth. I’m dreading our next event as I know it will end up with only a few of us doing all of the work, ugh.

    • Julia July 21, 2015, 4:56 pm

      “There are some people who so want to avoid disappointing people that they make wrong choices” — Yeah, struck a major chord with me.

      A couple months ago, I had a commission to knit up a sweater for an acquaintance before she left on vacation. I knew a week before she was going to leave I wasn’t going to have it finished on time. But I was sooooooooooo not ready to disappoint her that I lied to myself. I thought, “I can just sit down and get this done.” And I really believed it…or at least, I wanted to. But it was impossible. Finally, I told her the truth about a day before she was going to leave.

      And yes, she was disappointed, but the real problem was that I left it so late she didn’t have time to go out and buy a different sweater! I made the whole thing much worse because I couldn’t face the music. Bad girl. E-hell for me.

      • Jewel July 22, 2015, 10:40 am

        Step 1: Admit you have a problem…. 🙂

  • sandisadie July 21, 2015, 11:47 am

    Jim is not a friend, Jim is a “me” person. If it were me I wouldn’t give Jim another thought. And I definitely wouldn’t help him out with anything!

  • Lisa July 21, 2015, 11:48 am

    Strange dude. I’d leave him to enjoy his mac & cheese in his new apartment.

    • Wild Irish Rose July 21, 2015, 3:01 pm

      Yup. So would I.

    • Marozia July 21, 2015, 3:39 pm

      Funny about that! Jim can afford to move into a new apartment, but can’t afford anything else but Mac & Cheese to eat!!
      I wouldn’t blow Jim off, but I wouldn’t be so generous to him in the future.

      • Airelenaren July 21, 2015, 7:00 pm

        That actually doesn’t sound so strange to me. Maybe he could afford decent food specifically _because_ he had to save up so he could move. Maybe the move was really urgent. Maybe he moved from a bigger place into something more affordable.
        His stalling and late cancelling was rude, but the fact that he moved and couldn’t afford good food has nothing to do with etiquette per se.

        • Airelenaren July 21, 2015, 7:03 pm

          That was supposed to say “could *not* afford decent food” in the second sentence. Sorry for the confusing typo.

      • Beat.Your.Heart.Out July 21, 2015, 8:06 pm

        Although he could have been downsizing, to an apartment with cheaper rent.

      • MM 2 July 21, 2015, 8:52 pm

        Moving is really expensive. Boxes alone are a major expense not to forget the actual cost of renting a new place (brokers fee, security deposit, etc).

        • AnaMaria July 21, 2015, 11:45 pm

          There are ways around that. I have moved more times than I care to count in the past few years and I have never paid a cent for boxes- you can save them up pretty easily if you anticipate the move, or find them for free if you ask around. If Jim is moving in with friends or into a friend’s rental property, or even back with his parents, he wouldn’t need to worry about all the fees and might save a lot of money in the long run. It’s not fair to assume he’s being financially careless by moving, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the etiquette issue at hand, anyway.

        • Mary July 22, 2015, 4:15 am

          I’ve moved five times in my adult life. I’ve never paid for a box. We’ve always gotten them free at grocery stores. Depending on where you live, if you are renting, no brokers fees either. I’m guessing he was downsizing to a smaller apartment with smaller rent.

        • Tracy P July 22, 2015, 6:58 am

          Actually, moving can be done really cheaply. All it takes is friends (that you aren’t just using). If you’ve got someone like us that has a ton of plastic bins and empty diaper boxes and a truck to haul, then you don’t need to buy or rent anything. I’ve never had to pay a brokers fee that I know of (I’ve never even heard of a brokers fee) and hopefully you get back the security deposit from the 1st apartment and then can cover your new apartment.

        • Lerah99 July 22, 2015, 8:23 am

          The last time I moved was from an apartment to a house just a few miles away.
          I packed everything in those reusable canvas shopping bags and made several trips simply because I didn’t have the money to buy a bunch of boxes. Even when you are really broke, you will find ways to get things done.

          Heck, I had a friend who literally just shoved her clothes, linens, dishes, computer, and cats into her car after a bad break up. She was super broke and in order to get out, she left everything else behind. She couch surfed for about 18 months with various friends before she could save up first and last on a new place of her own.

          It’s impossible without more information to know the reasons behind to move or the resources he was using to get it done.

        • Ergala July 22, 2015, 8:56 am

          Maybe where you are MM2 but I’ve never paid for moving boxes and I’ve never paid broker fees. Usually just a security deposit and first month’s rent. The most expensive part for us was the truck typically after the security deposit. Not to mention a lot of people will scrimp and save before a move so that they CAN afford to do it. I’d rather live off mac and cheese for 3 months and be able to move into a more affordable place than constantly be under water in an apartment I couldn’t afford.

        • MM July 23, 2015, 9:04 am

          I just wanted to throw out there that eating cheaply and moving were not mutually exclusive. I don’t know Jim’s life. But in my experience finding free boxes proved difficult because I moved from a college town. I didn’t pay much for boxes but I still had to get some.

      • psammead July 23, 2015, 9:53 pm

        This is a really weird, judgmental comment–as if it’s somehow hypocritical or reprehensible for someone to move while poor. If he’s budgeting for a better place by cutting back on his food expenses, how is that anyone’s business but his, and how does it have anything to do with his rudeness in failing to cancel his plans with OP in a timely way? And, as others have pointed out, he could be moving in order to save money–whether by reducing his rent, his utility costs, his commute, or all three.

  • Ames July 21, 2015, 11:49 am

    I don’t have a comment as much as an observation…

    even though he doesn’t seem to be able to return the same favor to us, but that’s a story for another time).

    That just seems really bitchy to me, when you just said you invited him because of his financial problems.

    • Ashley July 21, 2015, 1:26 pm

      That struck me as odd as well but I didn’t want to mention it til someone else did.

    • A different Tracy July 21, 2015, 2:33 pm

      I’m willing to give the OP the benefit of the doubt until we know the rest… for all we know, the “story for another time” is that Jim is happy to let others buy his meals when he’s broke, but is stingy when he’s the one who has money.

    • Christina July 21, 2015, 3:38 pm

      Exactly! Why was there anything added in parentheses to begin with? It was quite clear from the description that he wouldn’t be able to reciprocate, so what, exactly, needs brought up at another time?

      It starts out sweet. Couple knows friend is having rough time so offers to take him out to eat. The added bit has nothing to do with the story, so why was it included at all? All it did was make the OP look almost petty, instead of endearing.

    • Anonymous July 21, 2015, 4:15 pm

      Actually, I don’t think the OP saw Jim as a charity case–I think she and her husband legitimately wanted to see Jim (otherwise, why would they have invited him for dinner AND a movie and cards?), and the restaurant opening just happened to align with a lean time in Jim’s life. OP and Mr. OP were planning on going out for Chinese food anyway, at the new restaurant, so they invited Jim. They probably would have done so even if he’d been fine financially, although they might not have offered to pay for his meal. So, I think Jim was the rude one here; not the OP or her husband.

    • deadbody July 21, 2015, 4:43 pm

      This might be more a comment on his general behavior. I have friends that if they lost their job and I wanted to treat them to dinner I would do so, but right now they are working, and I have treated them to many meals and drinks at my house, and they have never invited me past their doorstep.

      I think it was phrased poorly to put it in there, but I am thinking Jim is someone who is always willing to get a free meal on the OP but never offer to do something nice for them.

  • Cat July 21, 2015, 12:58 pm

    I have no clue as to Jim’s past history; I do know that there are those who are takers, but who are not givers.
    I had a cousin from whom I had heard nothing for over ten years. She called me out of the blue wanting to stay with me as her daughter was coming down to my area for a beauty pageant and staying in a hotel, but Mom needed to stay with me as she was short of funds.
    I took her shopping, out to eat, and bought her things. The pageant ended and I never heard from her again. I never got so much as a bread and butter note.

  • kingsrings July 21, 2015, 1:09 pm

    I’ve had a few struggles with friends about this over the years, too. For instance, there was the one friend who thought I was being rude and controlling to her for expecting her to honor the plans that we made together. She would constantly either show up or not show up, or show up really late, depending on what her mood was. And she saw absolutely nothing at all wrong with doing this to me, because she should be able to decide on her own without me “controlling” her was her excuse. Another friend constantly hemmed and hawed every time I invited her to a social event like going to the movies or out to dinner or similar. She would tell me she didn’t know if she could or not and then list all the reasons why and would keep this up for days leading up to the event. It drove me crazy. Thankfully, I’m no longer friends with either of these friend duds anymore.

    • Ange July 21, 2015, 10:34 pm

      Sounds like that first friend is the one with control issues, not you. She obviously wanted to be in charge and let you know it in a very dramatic fashion.

    • MM 2 July 22, 2015, 5:48 am

      good for you for cutting those friends out.

  • Daphne July 21, 2015, 1:13 pm

    Ages aren’t mentioned but if Jim is a young guy, under 25 or so, I’d let it go. When I was young I would not have thought going out for Chinese food was a big deal either. And furthermore, I would be a little apprehensive if a couple had made it “explicitly clear” they would be treating because I was broke. I would feel a little like a third wheel, now obligated to hang out with them at their house all night, and be an audience to their prosperous couple-dom.

    I don’t know, it just sounds to me like Jim doesn’t really need the free Chinese food, and I don’t think he’s a bad guy for it. What he really needs is someone to help him move his couch.

    • First timer July 21, 2015, 11:09 pm

      I think you might be missing the point a little bit here. The fact is it is still rude to keep on telling the OP that he will come when it was probably pretty obvious to him that he wouldn’t. Not the fact that he might not be that interested in Chinese food or being around prosperous couple-dom.

      He IS the bad guy for stringing them along and keeping them waiting however he might’ve felt about the initial invitation.

      • Daphne July 23, 2015, 9:16 pm

        I’m not missing the point at all, simply giving my point of view.

    • Enna July 22, 2015, 3:39 am

      I knew for the age of 12 that is rude to stand people up.

      • Daphne July 23, 2015, 9:17 pm

        Good for you, but some people don’t. My point is that Jim seems stressed, he’s broke, he’s moving, maybe a little slack is called for here.

    • Tracy P July 22, 2015, 7:01 am

      Then Jim should have put on his big boy pants and said no to the invitation. If you don’t want to do an activity, you say something, not just delay until it’s too late for everyone. And then turn around and ask for a favor?

      • Daphne July 23, 2015, 9:18 pm

        Yes he should have but he’s going through a rough patch. If he were my friend I would be a tad more empathetic.

    • A different Tracy July 22, 2015, 7:36 am

      At what point is an invitation enough of a “big deal” that you should actually honor your acceptance of it? Is Italian food more important than Chinese? Or French? If they’d invited him to a French restaurant, and he never canceled or showed up, would *that* be rude enough to comment on?

      • Daphne July 23, 2015, 9:19 pm


    • Lynne July 22, 2015, 8:18 am

      And he’s not a bad guy for it — agreed. But he IS the “bad guy” here for not communicating that to his hosts.

      • Daphne July 23, 2015, 9:19 pm

        I agree.

  • Devin July 21, 2015, 1:36 pm

    This is a major pet peeve of mine, it’s worse than people who just flake out. The flakes usually ‘forget’ they have plans and when you call the check on their eta tell you straight away. Its annoying, but at least then you can still make the show/reservation/event. The postponer potentially ruins the evening for everyone because you miss the opening act, lose your reservation, or get stuck holding an extra ticket. I recently decided a ‘friend’ of mine would be better as an acquaintance for this exact reason.

  • stacey July 21, 2015, 2:00 pm

    I wouldn’t be happy waiting around for someone. Inviting a person for anything should have a specific start and end time, so “we’d love to treat you to dinner at the new Chinese restaurant on (insert day/ date) at (insert time).” If he’s more than 20 minutes late- leave. No drama, no hunger and no regrets. And you get to avoid dealing with their inconsiderate or scattered habits in future.. just don’t invite them for anything other than “drop-in/ large group” functions, if you even want to keep contact…

    • Daphne July 23, 2015, 9:22 pm


  • Lindsay July 21, 2015, 2:01 pm

    A few things. The return the favor to us comment rubbed me the wrong way. It sounds like OP is absolutely counting favors, which is not what a dinner invite is. I get that I guess you are trying to be helpful, but maybe just having him drop by for a slice of pizza would have been easier for you to forgive and him to not repay?

    Second, yes, Jim was rude. But it also sounds like Jim might really be going through it. If he’s moving out of his apartment and living on Mac & Cheese, did he get evicted? Was this a quick move? Is his life falling apart and as his friends it sounds more like you are worried about moo shu pork? Is this something Jim frequently does? Is it out of character? Was he fired, hence the move and mac and cheese and not going to work but moving instead?

    I guess what I’m saying is, if this guy really is this flaky, and does this sort of thing all the time, why is he your friend? And if he isn’t that type of guy, and it’s a one time thing- Why are you being so hard on him when it looks like his life is falling apart?

    Something just feels weird about this submission OP. I have a lot of questions.

    • Ulla July 22, 2015, 1:58 am

      I was having a lot of same questions. The fact that he did not tell about his move sounded to me as if he might be bit … ashamed of it? Maybe that’s not right word, but usually when people find better or nicer apartment and move there, they talk about that in good time, telling how lucky they were. If their landlord terminates their contract for unknown reasons, they complain about that and usually are open about their hunt for new home. But then people who need to downsize because of financial troubles. Well, that is often seen as failure (in their own minds at least) and generally it’s not the first topic to be brought up.

      So it does sound for me that he might be going through some quite rough financial times. Of course this is pure speculation. But I agree with you, if this was one time occurence, I’d rather approach this with “Is there something really difficult going in your life and do you need help?” rather than being all judgy. If he is always like this… well, that’s different.

      • Daphne July 23, 2015, 10:11 pm

        Totally agree with you both, Lindsay and Ulla.

    • Jessica July 22, 2015, 1:26 pm


  • Michelle July 21, 2015, 2:17 pm

    How frustrating and rude! Does “Jim” do this kind of thing often? If no, I’d let it slide, just this once, since moving is crazy stressful and nothing ever goes as planned. However, if this is a regular occurrence, I would stop inviting him and if he asks, tell him the truth- “Jim” you often postpone and end up cancelling plans with us so we have chosen to not invite you as often.

    I have to agree that you stating you invited him because was having financial trouble and then saying he doesn’t seem to be able to return the same favor to you cast some doubt on your generosity. If he’s having financial trouble and can only afford mac-n-cheese, how do you expect him to be able to take you and husband out to eat? I would hope once he gets in a better financial situation, he would reciprocate in some way.

  • Harley Granny July 21, 2015, 2:32 pm

    even though he doesn’t seem to be able to return the same favor to us, but that’s a story for another time).

    I took this that the OP realizes that Jim is a “taker” not a “giver”

    Any way you look at it, Jim was rude beyond rude and I doubt I’d be inviting him any where else again.

  • Serena July 21, 2015, 3:00 pm

    I have more than one friend who has done this sort of thing. Some people just don’t get. They just don’t know how inconsiderate and rude their behavior is–they think the world is as nonchalant as they are. They also seem to think they are being less trouble by NOT showing up… au contraire….

  • JD July 21, 2015, 4:54 pm

    I didn’t read OP’s story as saying that she expected favors back from Jim in return for dinner. To me she was saying Jim happily accepted the favor of their offer of dinner and actually requested the favor of help during moving, but can’t be bothered to so much as let them know he can’t make it to a dinner for which he is the honored guest. Jim’s lack of returning the favors she mentions could have meant that Jim’s never been around when OP and spouse have needed something like help getting a couch in the house, but they were always willing to help him anyways, until this current rudeness. That’s how I read it; maybe I’m wrong, but that was my first thought.
    And Jim is sure rude. I hate it when people pull that stunt!

  • Ergala July 21, 2015, 6:33 pm

    Does anyone else find it kind of odd that the OP thinks that Jim is a close friend yet had no idea he was moving? Moving is kind of a big deal. I have a feeling Jim has been distancing himself for awhile and the OP is now figuring that out. Her remark about treating him to dinner and him never offering to do the same kind of makes me wonder if she isn’t very covert about her disdain for that fact. If a friend kept on treating me to dinner knowing I really had no money I’d feel pretty weird. If she was dropping hints about wanting me to take her out when she knew I was flat broke I’d be distancing myself quickly, I don’t want to be someone’s charity case.

    • MM 2 July 22, 2015, 5:53 am

      I don’t think accepting someone’s kindness isn’t being a charity case. I’m sure OP had the best intentions in inviting Jim out.

      Jim could have a few reasons for not talking about the move–maybe it happened quickly? maybe he just didn’t think to bring it up?

      • MM 2 July 22, 2015, 5:53 am

        sorry, take out the “don’t” in the above reply!

    • Lynne July 22, 2015, 8:21 am

      I don’t see anywhere that the OP describes him as a close friend — am I missing something?

      • Ergala July 24, 2015, 4:14 pm

        Not sure about you but I do t pay constantly for people whom are acquaintances. Usually that is reserved for close friends. Especially if they knew his financial situation and what he is eating daily.

    • Goldie July 22, 2015, 8:40 am

      I did. I’m not going to make any guesses as to what more there is to the story, but there’s definitely more. Otherwise Jim would’ve said “ah no I cannot make it, it’s my moving night”. Or even more likely, they would’ve already known it was his moving night.

  • GeenaG July 21, 2015, 6:44 pm

    Find another real life friend because this person isn’t your friend. Never extend him another invitation to anything again because people like this just are not worth the trouble and aggravation they leave in their wake.

  • Virg July 21, 2015, 8:39 pm

    Jim sounds like he’s embarrassed or even humiliated by his financial troubles, and is trying to keep it out of the public eye. I suspect his move might have been driven by said troubles (he only knew he was moving for a few days?) and my guess is that the “something” that “came up” was an issue that prevented his being able to move without mentioning it, not the move itself. Add to that the air of your comment about his not being able to reciprocate and I can see why he’d avoid mentioning the move.


    • Anna July 22, 2015, 12:41 pm

      This was my thought, too. Clearly he was going through a difficult time, and through the stress and possible unexpected things regarding his move, he acted inconsiderately towards you. Unless this is a pattern of behavior, I’d be inclined to treat it as a one-off prompted by stress.

  • MM 2 July 21, 2015, 9:02 pm

    I think Jim is a person who doesn’t want to “disappoint” anyone by canceling. I read an article once that said most people who are late/flaky are not malicious; they just over extend themselves. And then they feel bad. So they don’t ever outright cancel but keep people hanging. Yes, Jim is rude. But I think if OP explains to Jim that he could have handled this better, perhaps he’ll so some emotional growing.

    Also re: OP’s comment about Jim returning the favor. I took it to mean that Jim is happy to accept favors when he needs them but is not quick to offer when he isn’t. It can be taxing even on the most selfless

  • Rebecca July 22, 2015, 12:11 am

    Jim was rude; I don’t know why there’s even a question about it. Someone offers to take you out for dinner, you either accept or decline, but if you accept, you show up. Obviously his afternoon/evening didn’t go according to plan somehow, but how hard would it be to call up and say, “Hey…..sorry guys, I’m in the middle of a move and I thought I’d be done by now, but things got delayed. I might be another hour, but to be honest, I am not sure, so if you guys want to go ahead, please don’t wait for me. Thanks again for your kind offer but it’s not looking like I’m going to be done in time here.”

    • Michellep July 27, 2015, 12:17 pm

      Thank you for this.

  • inNM July 22, 2015, 6:44 am

    I may be the odd person out here, but i have treated friends to dinner in the past with no expectation of being paid back for the meal. But these are not fly-by-night people I do not know well. These are very close friends who I probably did not go out with for a while because money was tight. So I let them know I want to be paid back with their company. I also know some people are accountants: calculating what is given to them and taken from them so that they don’t owe anyone anything, and they would not be comfortable with my paying for dinner. In that case, I scale it back: coffee, a drink, ice cream.

  • Shoegal July 22, 2015, 7:58 am

    Jim sounds weird. Who plans to move after work on an evening and thinks that he’ll have it finished in time to go to dinner? So his work day ends at 5 pm – and he thought it was gonna take a minute or two to move? Huh? He is either a complete idiot or didn’t want to turn down the invitation.

    I don’t think it is weird that the OP didn’t know he was moving but I do think it odd that Jim never mentioned it. Jim could just be a total flake in that he doesn’t think if he commits to something he needs to honor it. In a nutshell, Jim was rude. Yes, rude. He should have just said, Hey thanks for the invite but I’m moving. I can’t make it.

    As for the OP’s comment about Jim not reciprocating. Hey, I get that and it stinks. Some people just can’t do it – and I am always left with the feeling like, “hey ?! what’s wrong with us?” I know of several couples that no matter how many times my husband and I have hosted we don’t ever get a return invitation. I’m saying – it’s really rare. I’m not even thinking a reciprocal invite is that they have to cook us dinner or put on a party and invite us – I’m thinking, you are going out and perhaps would like us to join. After awhile it gets old and I get to wondering if we are really even friends. A couple we have repeatedly socialized with have never invited us over. I casually asked a friend of mine what she did on Friday. She said, “Oh Staci & Sam asked us over for dinner.” I see. I literally may have been in Staci and Sam’s house just one time.

    • abby July 22, 2015, 2:46 pm

      I am wondering if Jim’s move came up rather suddenly- if he was possibly being evicted or moving out quickly because he couldn’t afford the next month’s rent.

      It’s possible Jim took time off work, either the day or the afternoon, and figured he had until 5, and if it went a little over, he could just give the impression he was hung up at work. However, he must have massively underestimated how long it would take but was hoping to be done in time to still get a free meal. He was rude, no doubt, but it might have stemmed from embarrassment over his situation.

      • Daphne July 23, 2015, 10:21 pm

        I agree abby. To me it sounds like he’s super stressed about his money woes and in a tizzy because of it. It’s hard for people to understand if they’ve never been through it, but money problems are overwhelming; it’s hard to think clearly when you don’t know if you’ll be homeless tomorrow. So sometimes the niceties in life like Chinese food with friends have to take a way, way back seat.

        IMO the truly gracious person would try to understand that and help him move his couch.

        • Michellep July 27, 2015, 12:19 pm

          I have been super stressed for years. I deal with it. Life is stress. I still honor my commitments.

          • Daphne July 27, 2015, 5:27 pm

            So do I.

    • Cleo July 22, 2015, 4:52 pm

      I think we have the same friends. I’m constantly seeing posts on facebook for events that I have been excluded from. I’ve stopped inviting certain people to my things knowing that it will never be reciprocated. Why should I go to the effort of organising something for people who don’t care about me enough to return the favour occasionally. I don’t expect to be invited to everything how about just some things some times?

  • crebj July 22, 2015, 8:10 am

    No etiquette heroes here.

    • Daphne July 23, 2015, 10:22 pm

      Best & most diplomatic comment of the thread!!

  • Shalamar July 22, 2015, 8:52 am

    We know a couple who is notorious for this sort of thing. We’d asked them to be our matron of honour and best man, and we arranged for the guys to meet at 2:00 p.m. on a Saturday to go pick out tuxes. 2:00 came and went with no sign of them. They finally rolled up to our house at 3:30. Turns out that the husband had found an old episode of “Star Trek” that he just HAD to watch for the billionth time. The kicker was that the episode started at 1:30 p.m., and their house was an hour drive from ours. So, even if they’d skipped watching the show, they STILL would have been late!

  • Girlie July 22, 2015, 11:38 am

    I had a friend once who liked to make plans only to cancel at the last minute (or later) for odd reasons. She once ditched my house-warming party to hang out with another friend whom she “never got to spend time with” (I hadn’t seen her in months), and she ditched me that time her boyfriend’s car broke down (it was already safely in the shop. She just didn’t want him to be “all by himself at home.”)

    We live an hour away, and I eventually figured out that I was only seeing her around her birthday and Christmas – and although price isn’t such a big deal, it became painfully obvious to me that I was spending a lot more time and thought on her presents than she was on mine. She was late even to those meetings.

    She is no longer a friend. I’m not angry with her or anything. I simply don’t have time to spend on someone who doesn’t appreciate what I have to give. I am happier for it.

    I recommend that OP take these things into consideration when deciding how she wants to go forward in her friendship with Jim.

  • Cora July 22, 2015, 12:36 pm

    Everyone in the story needs a spine. Maybe Jim really did think he could get the move done before dinner, and/or was embarrassed about financial troubles that quite possibly forced him to move to a place he would have been ashamed to show his friends. But yes, he should have stood up straight at 5:30, realized he couldn’t make it, and owned up to that.

    But what about the OP? Oh, poor you, waiting for your friend, because that was the “only” thing to do? No. If you call the friend at 5:45 and he gives you a flaky response, you tell him, well, we’ll meet you at the restaurant, then. I can’t stand people who turn themselves into victims over situations that can be handled firmly without being rude.

    • Daphne July 23, 2015, 10:33 pm

      applause for this response Cora!

  • NostalgicGal July 22, 2015, 12:55 pm

    I think the only main issue is that Jim was invited to eat, and shouldn’t have kept the others waiting for some hours while he tried to snag both A and B (moving finishing and getting a free meal).

    I think Jim should have leveled with the truth early on and thus allowed the OP to change plans for that future event, even maybe that the OP might have helped (not obligated but) in the run up on the moving stuff so Jim could have hit schedule target and been able to attend with them.

  • Skaramouche July 22, 2015, 2:05 pm

    People seem to be dwelling on the “he doesn’t seem able to return the favor” bit. I’m pretty sure OP didn’t expect a tit-for-tat, “I buy your dinner, you buy mine” arrangement, especially since she brought up the fact that Jim is low on funds at the moment. Maybe I’m giving OP too much benefit of the doubt but what I read was general frustration about a relationship that is no longer (or never was) reciprocal. Friendships are supposed to be about give-and-take so the expectation is that you do nice things for each other is not unreasonable. It doesn’t always have to be about money but you can only give unselfishly for so long before it begins to rankle.

  • Cathy July 22, 2015, 2:09 pm

    I agree with those who consider friendship a two-way street. I don’t think the OP is wrong to consider Jim a sort of one-way friend. Even if he doesn’t take them out or whatever, he can still be considerate and do something in return once in a while.

    Jim sounds pretty flaky and a bit of a user to me. I’ve had acquaintances like this and have always ended up dropping them. It’s annoying to feel used. I also think Jim should have been up-front about his plans from the start. Not doing so tells me he’s self-centered and not very interested in treating people well.

    I also reserve a special place in e-hell for people who are invited someplace and either bail at the last minute or hee-haw around until the last minute to say yes or no. It’s rude. I allow for a couple of times of doing that, then I’m done. Not worth the aggravation. I understand that some people have a different way of socializing than I do – they wait until the last minute and see what their choices are, then pick the best one. Fine, but don’t expect me to invite them again.

  • Angel July 22, 2015, 7:54 pm

    Jim is a thoughtless jerk. But the OP should have said when he didn’t show up by 6, maybe we can reschedule for another time–seems like you’re busy. I wouldn’t have waited more than an hour for him. I also wouldn’t invite him out again.

    The thing that bugged me the most about this submission is that Jim not only blows off the OP but expects them to help him MOVE the next day. Seriously you are an adult. HIRE MOVERS.

  • LS July 23, 2015, 8:47 pm

    People need to cut persons like this out of their lives by the time they are 30.
    No excuse putting up with this nonsense as you get older.

  • JacklynHyde July 24, 2015, 7:51 am

    I co-hosted a cocktail party last week. My home was the meeting place, and my friend was responsible for bringing the food. However, on the day of the party, my friend hit a happy hour. Two hours into the cocktail party, she was still a no-show, and attempts to reach her by phone were unsuccessful. Thankfully, my husband put together a generous cheese plate in place of her expected dishes, but we were worried about our friend. She finally responded by text as the party was ending, explaining that she had gotten really drunk at happy hour and had passed out at home. I was happy to hear she was okay, but made it clear that I was disappointed. From now on, I will plan events on the “interesting assumption” she will miss them.

    • bern821 July 27, 2015, 4:13 pm

      My husband has an aunt who is bit of a flake. We were all having a family get together at my mother-in-law’s (the aunt is her sister-in-law) and the aunt was responsible for bringing the wine. On the way to the party, we were about to pass a liquor store, and I asked my husband to stop so we could grab some wine just in case. Well, the aunt and her adult children no-shows, and let me tell you – the other guests were happy that we brought the wine! At some point near the end of the get-together, someone finally got her on the phone and her excuse was that her brother ended up in the hospital – although it was nothing serious. She never bothered to call to say she couldn’t make it, and her daughters didn’t bother showing up either. I think the ‘brother’ excuse was BS, and it’s so rude to blow off a party after agreeing to bring something important. Like the wine – or in your friend’s case, THE FOOD!!

  • Sylvia July 24, 2015, 7:12 pm

    Don’t be surprised if in the near future, Jim calls and reminds you that you still owe him a dinner.

  • Michellep July 27, 2015, 12:22 pm

    I am frankly astounded by the posters here defending Jim. I have moved plenty of times, been short on money, all of the stresses that some of you are desperately trying to justify his behavior with. I have NEVER left people hanging like that. I understand the op’s comment about it not being reciprocated, too. I have a family member who has no problem taking but can’t give. She’s also a notorious flake. I have removed her from my life. It’s not worth the drama.

    • Daphne July 28, 2015, 12:14 am

      So it’s personal for you and that’s understandable. And IMO you did the right thing by removing someone from your life whose behavior is intolerable to you.
      I think though, in the context of writing into an etiquette advice blog, an OP may be questioning his/her reaction to a particular situation and so is looking for other points of view. And that is often what is offered here; not justification, defense or condemnation necessarily, but perhaps just a different angle from which to observe the situation.