Raised to be Punctual

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a friend who is chronically late. It doesn’t matter what the
occasion or how much lead-time she has been given, she is late. I like
her and enjoy her company. But I am past annoyed. I’ve said
something to her, as have other people. These comments have ranged
from. “Did you get lost?” to “We waited to order.” But it seems to roll
off her like water off a duck’s back. Can you think of an intervention
that won’t end up killing the friendship? I know other people feel the
same, but she is a genuinely nice person who has helped each of us
during times of illness (chicken soup, driving to doctor’s appointments,
etc). Other than this one flaw, which I would like to think is not fatal;
she is a kind, considerate person. We don’t want to hurt her, but we
would like to change her. Can you think of a way to make things clear
that won’t hurt her feelings but will make our point, which is that her
lack of responsibility is rude to others and disrupts the joy we feel in
seeing her, and has caused us to rush fine dinners out so we don’t
miss movie or theatres start times.

Raised to be Punctual

Dear Punctual:

I can think of ways to make your point but I cannot guarantee her
feelings won’t be hurt. The kindest would be to use words, and to do it
with least you and another person present. Then it’s not a one-on- one,
and while I don’ want to advocate “ganging up” on her, having another
person present to underscore your message should lend some gravity
to the situation. I’d ask if you can come for tea, saying I want to talk
to you about something., and demurring if she asks what. Then make
your points clearly and simply, starting and ending with how much you
value the friendship, and filling the middle with an anecdote of three
about missed movies, rush dinners, etc where her failure to be timely
has imposed a bad time on others. Then see how she does.

If she backslides only a little, remind her of “our talk.” If she does not
change, or reverts to complete lack of punctuality, try a much more
active intervention: tell her a time an hour (or 30 minutes if you feel
kind) earlier than the actual meeting time. Then she can be the one
waiting for the rest of you to show up for dinner. Hopefully that will
teach her. And by no means should any of you carry her ticket to a
theatre. Make sure she is self sufficient, and tell her Dinner is at x
o’clock, and the movie is at y. I’m happy to pick you up and bring you
home if you will be ready. But I don’t want to miss the show, so here’s
your ticket. If you miss dinner, we’ll see you at the theatre. Do not
keep making it easy on her unless you have reasons to do so you
haven’t expressed.