In early September I joked on Facebook with the status, “RIP to all the ‘Let’s totally get together this summer’ plans that never happened.”
I was mostly kidding.
The post wasn’t made with malice; I love my friends and family. I know life happens.
But seriously…were people always this flaky? When did this really become a thing? Or has it always existed, and is just worse nowadays because everyone is truly so much busier?
At some point we have all reaped incidents of flaking for parties, lunch/dinner/coffee dates, baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, meetings, moving days, workouts, etc.
Sometimes we can blow it off; other times it bothers us.
Nowadays it’s as though when we make plans in the first place, we know there’s a 50/50 (or worse chance) that the plans will actually take place.
I can recall many, many incidents of flakiness over time; some do not phase me, while others are disappointing.
I try really hard to not be a flaker because I know what it feels like to be the recipient. I definitely don’t think I’m better than anybody else for being reliable; yet, I do feel better about myself for not inconveniencing others or letting people down.
Life is short; I’m not keeping tabs, and I don’t want it to seem like I’m throwing anybody under the bus. Yet, I have to laugh at how often “flaking” happens to me. I put up with it because I love my friends, but that doesn’t mean I prefer it.
Last month a friend was over an hour late to our play date with our boys at the zoo. (I should have known, because the week before that she was 45 minutes late to the children’s museum, and the time before that she cancelled a half hour before we were supposed to meet.)
In the past couple months both my allergist and dentist called to reschedule appointments that I had made months ago.
This week I drove nearly an hour away for a play date for my son, only to get a text 10 minutes after we were supposed to meet that they weren’t coming after all.
Also frustrating is when someone says they are only five minutes away, and then 30 minutes later they show up as if nothing happened.
This happened to me recently; she called to say she was stuck in the drive thru at Starbucks and it would be 10 more minutes max; she then accidentally texted me what I’m assuming she meant to text her boyfriend. “F**k, I’m so late. She is peeved.”
So when she showed up more than a half hour later, yes, I was annoyed, at both her late arrival AND the text she didn’t realize she had accidentally sent me. Honestly, I wasn’t truly “peeved” until I received that.
It is somewhat deflating when people cancel on us or show up late, as if our time does not matter, or that our presence doesn’t trump the idea of doing something else like jumping into pajamas and watching TV. The bottom line is that we all make time for what is important to us.
Personally, sometimes it is hard to forget about getting all ready to go out, only to be cancelled on shortly before, or waiting forever in public with a whiny toddler because friends are running super late (you know, like “only 5 more minutes”).
When I am flaked on by others, it kind of reminds me of the time when I ordered a grilled chicken salad, got home and realized the chicken was missing. Talk about being deflated…and hangry! (Not as much as my brother probably was years ago when the cheeseburger he bought at McDonald’s only had the bun with cheese. I will never stop laughing at that story.)
Anyway, I don’t remember this level of flakeage happening when I was younger. I enjoyed regular play dates with my friends down the block; there were never any last-minute calls to cancel, or excessively late arrivals. If we didn’t have sports, we would do things like go to the park, play in our basements, listen to Paula Abdul, run around topless (just kidding…although my sister and I did run around in Catwoman and Wonder Woman underwear), eat yummy food our moms made…you know, normal kid stuff.
Even in college there wasn’t excessive flakiness in terms of social commitments; if you were hungover, you showered, ate something and sucked it up. Somewhere a house party was waiting. And then Dill Street was waiting. You didn’t cancel at the last minute or complain that you couldn’t go. (Now, as far as the end of the night went, there were no rules for that…the goal was simply to make it home in one piece and not end up arrested or in some lunatic’s basement.)
Again, I know that life happens…we all have rough days, or headaches or stomach aches or whatever. Or our kids are sick. Or our pets have the scoots. Or traffic is terrible. Or, work commitments take priority. Or, we just don’t feel like adulting.
Yet, at some point, we should ask ourselves how often are we flaking vs. being reliable? What kind of message are we sending to the people in our lives when we constantly cancel and/or show up late?
As people get older, they do tend to have more commitments, especially those with kids or elderly parents. I get it; it’s not ever going to be like it was when we were kids or young adults.
But, I think we can all do better. We can do better at not only making plans, which is the easy part, but at keeping them. We can be more selective with making plans that will actually stick.
As Jerry once said in a Seinfeld episode:
“You know how to take a reservation, but you just don’t know how to hold the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation – the HOLDING. Anybody can just take ’em.”