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Jun 27, 2013 09:01 AM

What is your “grace period”?

I am one of those annoying always on time people. I feel like I often need to manage my own expectations.

For example if you have dinner reservation for 8:00 and are running about 15 minutes late do you call the restaurant and let them know or do you expect a 10-15 minute grace period and assume they will hold your table? Anything more than 10 minutes I call. My friends think nothing of showing up 20 minutes late with no call and expecting their table to be ready.

What about a sit down dinner party? How much leeway should a host give or when should they expect a phone call letting them know you’ll be late? I have had guest show up 45+ minutes late with nary a call. I don’t mind holding dinner at all, my timing is never that exact that I can’t flex because god know things happens. It’s the not knowing which is frustrating for me and the other quests.

If it’s a casual event- backyard BBQ, cocktail party, etc does the grace period change? Unless I am told “come any time” to an open house type event I will always call and let the host know if I am running late. However for more casual event that goes from my regular 10-15 call to 20 minute call.

Lastly- do you find it annoying when guests do call to let you know? Do you expect your guest to be 20-30 minutes late as the norm even for a sit down dinner party and don’t “worry” (for lack of a better word) until 45 min/hour that they aren’t going to show?

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    1. If it's a restaurant, I always call if I'm running even 10 mins late. A dinner party, I'll wait 20 mins before I begin serving. A BBQ, if you show, you show, if not oh well!

      1 Reply
      1. I had just such an issue this past Saturday. We were scheduled to go out to a "good" restaurant where the hostess had made reservations for 6 p.m. We would be going with three other couples, one of whom we were riding with.

        DH called me from the road, saying that there was a massive traffic backup due to an overturned vehicle, and he was probably going to be late. I called the couple we were riding with (45 minutes before our pickup time) and told them we would just drive ourselves. (It was only a few minutes away from both of our houses, we were car pooling because of lack of close parking.)

        I then called the hostess and told her the time problem, but assured her we were coming, and would get there as soon as possible. She appreciated the call, and thanked me.

        It turns out, we got the the restaurant 2 minutes behind them, they were just parking their car. So we weren't late at all, but I was glad I called anyway, just to avoid any worry and be polite.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

          Interesting chain of events.

          Many years ago, we had reservations for lunch in Chinatown, Honolulu. Well, we were cabbing it from Waikiki, but that was the day that the manhole covers all blew off, downtown, and all streets into Chinatown were shut down. We were on the phone, the entire cab ride, and the restaurant understood, since four manhole covers, right outside, had blown off too. We arrive 45 mins. late, after lunch, but our table was ready. We were seated, in an otherwise empty restaurant - all patrons had run screaming from the restaurant. The staff was being fed, but they did not miss a beat, and we wanted for nothing. A really, really interesting afternoon, but my hat was off to Indigo. They covered us 100%.


        2. I don't expect a restaurant to hold my table for more than 10 minutes. Having said that, I look at a reservation as an appointment, and we just are not late for reservations and appointments.

          When friends have us over for dinner, and say '6:00', I usually arrive about 15 minutes late, to give the host a couple of minutes. I don't ever walk in exactly at the invited hour. Not exactly sure why, one of the things my mom taught me. It seems to be a common sentiment, because I generally arrive near the beginning of the arrivals.

          11 Replies
          1. re: jeanmarieok

            Restaurants usually book tables in 15-minute increments, so I think 15 minutes is the grace period.

            Ten minutes is the grace period for meeting friends in public or at their home for a formal occasion (i.e. a dinner party). For an event like a BBQ, it really depends on the structure of the event and your relationship with the host, i.e., for my best friend I'm likely to give her an "I'm on my way do you need me to pick-up anything" call.

            With cell phones there's really no excuse not to at least call. After being lectured by both her daughters and her friends, my mother (who has a cell phone but never turns it on) is finally starting to catch on to the fact that 21st century etiquette mandates that you keep your cell phone turned on when you're going to be meeting up with someone, because people are going to be working under the assumption that they can call you and give you a head's up if they're running late.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              If I can be on time in the minute, then everyone else needs to be also. I've heard waaay too many excuses where I live from people who live close to me. "Running late" doesn't cut it....and the 'grace period' for me is what I think is appropriate for the given situation and how irritated I am that someone has been rude and kept me waiting. I usually know the offenders from past experiences and if my confronting them hasn't worked then I'm, most likely, not going to meet them for anything that requires promptness.
              My time is just as valuable as another's.
              Allow yourself the time, leave from your destination in order for you to be on time. Plan ahead, in other words. I do.
              Anything other than that then there needs to be a call saying something came up that was beyond their control with a note from their mother.

              1. re: latindancer

                Yes. The not-so-secret secret of prompt people is that we provide ourselves room for delays on the front end. That is, if I am going to a dinner in Boston (which takes 20 minutes for me to get to by car in light traffic), I tack on 20 minutes for unexpected traffic delays and finding parking except in the lightest of traffic times. So I leave 40 minutes ahead, rather than 20. I am always amazed by people who LEAVE home at the appointed hour (or even 30 minutes after - the appointed hour is merely the point when they start getting ready for the engagement), and due to delays and finding parking, show up 60-90 minutes late. Chronically.

                1. re: Karl S

                  On the other hand, my mother chronically shows up early, which either catches me taking a last-minute shower or feeling guilty because she's been waiting for me, even though I'm on time.

                  I was also raised to believe that one minute late is late, but I've gotten more relaxed because no one else seems to care, and sometimes things just happen, like being ten minutes late for a doctor's appointment because I didn't realize my friend who borrowed my car had brought it back with no gas AND a flat tire (I would have made it if I'd only needed gas).

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    The other secret of the prompt is to bring something to read, knit or play if you get somewhere early, so that you can wait until five or so minutes after the witching how before knocking.

                    1. re: Karl S

                      Yep. Thank goodness for smart phones.

                      1. re: Becca Porter

                        To further explain the Dark Ages to younger folk:

                        What you had to do was agree on a third party phone number who would be home to take your calls and who would receive your message and be able to relay your message to the other party when and if they called. There were no answering machines or voice mail. So, when I stood around Penn Station waiting for my friend on the train after getting in from LI, and there was no sign her train from NJ was late, we'd have to do this dance. It was much saner than waiting forever.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          Reminds me of the time 20+ years ago when I was meeting friends on a street corner in NYC to drive to a wedding rehearsal in NJ. We were all members of the bridal party. Turns out their car got towed, they didn't know the license plate number of the rental to retrieve it, yada yada. Talk about when a cell phone would have been nice! I spent two hours on that street corner!

                  2. re: Karl S

                    My Mother! Every single day of my life as a kid... Therefore, 10-15 minutes early is on time or me. Yes that's my secret. I allow room for delays.

                    1. re: Karl S

                      Also a Bostonian and I agree, but .....

                      I'm exactly the person that you describe, and it'd infuriate me that my friends would be more than a minute late, particularly when they'd laugh about how much padding I give myself when going place.

                      But then I moved a but further out, transportation becomes less predictable. I do kind of get where they're coming from now as there have been times where I've been 5-10m late despite leaving oodles of time in padding.

                      So yes poop happens but you're also right that people should give themselves more padding

                    2. re: latindancer

                      We've fixed a few such friends of ours by giving the offenders an earlier start time than reality. Eventually they end up early once or twice, get annoyed and then realize how everyone else feels

                2. For a reservation I call if I am going to be one minute late, and give as accurate an ETA as I can. If I know ten minutes before my res time that I am running ten minutes late, then I call ten minutes before the FOH is not wondering if/when I am showing up.

                  The exception to this is when I am delayed on the subway and can't call.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    I am so with you but friends act like I am crazy. I know that it takes aprox X time to get there so If we haven't left by then I call. If we are on the road and get stuck in traffic, etc I call.

                    My family is chronically early. I have driven around the block a few times when to going to someones home..

                    1. re: foodieX2

                      Do you friends not understand that being late means they may lose their table or else, it risks pushing the next res back 20 minutes?

                      Do they just not care?

                      1. re: LeoLioness

                        They assume their table will held and then are amazed when they have to wait. Then again the ones i am talking abut are huge cocktail people and have no problem waiting in the bar.

                      2. re: foodieX2

                        I'm just like you and my own family thinks I'm crazy. I hate being late to anything and will always call. And just this weekend, my son made us sit in the parking lot and wait before sending him into a birthday party at a sports facility because he did not want to be early.

                        And I appreciate it when people are early to my house, esp. if they are the helpful sort who can do last minute tasks. When we hosted my daughter's graduation party a few weeks ago, I was so thankful for the friends who showed up early and helped me put out the chips while I was awaiting the food delivery.

                        Oh, and I always leave on time and love it when others do, too!