The Gauche Guest

Yet another etiquette dilemma to ponder…

Q: I invited a co-worker for dinner at my home.  She called and texted multiple times to say that she was running a little behind, then again to say she needed to take a nap first, then multiple times to inform me that she would “be there soon”. Using good manners, I told her it was ok, but of course I was ready to relax and serve dinner at the original, agreed upon time.  In the end she arrived 3.75 hours late and dinner was ruined. She arrived empty-handed, voiced her dislike for the drinks I was serving, barely ate dinner and refused dessert, but she did ask to take food home. The kicker was when she asked if she could spend the night because she was too tired to take the 20 minute drive home, and the icing on the cake was her never apologizing for being late or saying “thank you” for my hospitality. Since then I have avoided personal conversations at work and declined an invitation to a party at her home. Do I expect too much, and am I being too tough on people?

A: You were used, abused, and that’s why you’re confused.  “In life there people who just take and never give. That’s why they never have.” So many things went wrong, and it sounds like your friend is big on taking.  You on the other hand, need to know when to turn off the hospitality.  I’m sure you didn’t forsee the downward spiral on the horizon, and I can understand with all of your prep and planning, your not canceling the evening at the point when she was one or even two hours late.  Making a bed and serving breakfast (which I hope you didn’t do) shows your kindness and generosity of doormat spirit. Keep those wonderful qualities and share them with those who appreciate all that you do. Hopefully your co-worker will find it within herself to clean-up her act, but with all of the faux pas that you mentioned, good luck on the latter.

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