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Here is the setup:

An acquaintance organized an event recently, hosting it at her house. With a few weeks to go, she invited about 40 people, more than half of which accepted the invitation. Then she spent the full week before the event working like a fiend–from cleaning her house from top to bottom, to buying groceries and cooking for at least twenty people.

Only four people showed up.

puzzled 3And I’ve been wondering… is it a cultural thing?

An education thing?

A generational thing?

I mean, to say, “Yeah, of course, I’ll be there” and then not only not showing up, but not even calling to excuse oneself?

I know my mother would have flayed me alive had I done such a thing. Then again, it’s also customary in my family that if someone doesn’t show up after promising to be there, phone calls ensue–it’s a given that if there was no apology/excuse before hand, something dire must have had happened.

What say you?

41 Comments »

  • I’m 24; I grew up and live in Washington State in the USA and have lived in Texas and Massachusetts. I’ve never been a place where that would have been considered acceptable. If that happened to me? I’d be livid, and not a one of those people would ever be getting an invitation again (excepting the people that had actual emergencies, but it couldn’t have been all of them).

    I’ve got no words. That’s just fucking rude.

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  • What Nonny said. If this behaviour is acceptable anywhere, that’s one place I don’t want to live.

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  • It’s a RUDE thing. And it’s happened to me. I also wonder if it’s a cultural thing because the guests for that party were all American. When I’ve hosted parties for West Indians, it’s never happened. Not once. Just sayin’

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  • It’s incredibly rude and I can’t imagine who would think that was acceptable!

    It also makes me very sad for your friend, cause that’s got to hurt. All that work she did. I honestly am kinda teary right now. πŸ™

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  • It’s incredibly rude and unconscionably!

    But I have to ask, given the numbers that didn’t show, and the title of your post, is this habitual of the guests in question? Do they normally not show up or show up late?

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  • It was RUDE. However, having said that.. was it an open house? Or one of those dinners where they invite you over so they can present a sales talk? That doesn’t excuse the no-shows without a call, but… I’ve heard of similar things happening.

    I generally steer clear of both kinds of events by finding somewhere else to be. I guess it would depend on the type of event, though I can think of no reason to just not show up.

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  • Oh, horrible! That is so sad. I would be crushed if that happened to me.

    It’s so strange, though, I really am curious what happened. Lack of manners? Miscommunication?

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  • Maili
    September 27
    2:01 pm

    Holy cow. I would never accept an invitation and not turn up without letting the host know. Only times I didn’t let the hosts know were when they gave open-house invitations, as in ‘drop by if you want’. Perhaps that’s what happened? The friend didn’t make it clear it wasn’t an open invitation?

    In my experiences with typical non-teen house parties, 70% of the invited accept and 50% of the 70% actually turn up. If I have my maths right, your scenario doesn’t fit the usual pattern. Roughly, 40 -> 25 -> 4 (should be 12). There must be a communication breakdown somewhere.

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  • Las
    September 27
    2:42 pm

    I think it’s partly cultural, but it might also has a lot to do with the type of event and how the invites were handled. That sort of thing is unheard of in my family and certain groups of my friends no matter what the circumstances, but I can easily imagine some people not showing up if it’s not an “official” (for lack of a better word) event, like a birthday or a holiday party. If the event is a “Hey, let’s all get together for the fun of it!” type of thing, people might be a lot more casual about it.

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  • Slightly OT…

    I teach at a school where the parents talk during performances – to each other and on the phone. It’s blatantly rude. Then, when their children are finished, go up and grab them, and leave. Which means by the end of the program, there’s hardly a handful of people left in the audience besides the teachers. The rudeness is astonishing. And this is just one example.

    I don’t think it’s a cultural phenom as much as it is the fact that they haven’t been taught better manners. I know that when I got after a parent who spat on the sidewalk by the school’s entryway, he got very hostile in response.

    No respect. No manners. Every year I have to start back at square one with teaching more than the basics to my class.

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  • There is no way it could have been taken for a casual get together–there were printed invitations. (Granted, they weren’t fancy, like a wedding invitation, but it wasn’t a, “hey, drop by if you can” during a three minute chat.)

    Plus, again, over half the people said they’d be there. Perhaps Linda is closest and is a matter of lack of education/manners.

    And yes, she was (still is) crushed. All of these people belong to different groups where she participates–knitting class, painting class, Bible study group, etc. She has known most of them for years.

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  • Tracy S
    September 27
    3:57 pm

    I really can’t see this as a cultural thing because I was sure not raised that way. And in all the places I’ve lived, that would not be considered acceptable behavior. I think it’s a RUDE, “I’m more important than you” thing! If I said yes to something, then couldn’t make it for one reason or another, I’d CALL and tell them and apologize!!

    I’m horrified at myself if I forgot to RSVP until the last minute. I have found that a lot of people just don’t bother to RSVP at all and that annoys me.

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  • KCfla
    September 27
    4:05 pm

    No, this is not acceptable. It’s Rude to the extreme.I know just how she feels, because this happened to me once.
    I was elected to host our store’s annual Christmas party ( I had just moved to a new house- everyone said they wanted to see it). As with your friend, I spent days cooking/cleaning/decorating so as to make everyone comfortable and welcome. Out of 30 people, only 2 said they were not going to be able to make it.

    NO ONE SHOWED. Not one. And these were people I had to work with on a daily basis. My husband ended up inviting his family over the next day just so we wouldn’t be stuck with all that food.

    Needless to say- work was uncomfortable for weeks following. Especially after one of my co-workers asked how the party went…….

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  • I agree with everyone else – it’s just plain RUDE. My mum raised me to ALWAYS RSVP (she was shocked by the people that didn’t for my wedding in 1990) and, if something happens, like I get sick, to call and explain why I can’t attend. In good time.

    I feel so bad for your friend AND for KCfla. I remember one year my dad planned a wine and cheese for our office and the other company with whom we shared office space. It had been well attended in years past, but that year almost NO-one showed. He was really angry. People just seemed to think because it wasn’t a “formal” event, it didn’t matter if they showed or not. Never mind the amount of food etc. My husband, however, thought it was cool to have all those cheese leftovers *g*.

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  • Chantal
    September 27
    5:42 pm

    It’s a rude thing. I’m horrified that it happened. πŸ™

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  • katieM
    September 27
    6:08 pm

    No, it’s not cultural. It’s rude and ill-mannered behavior. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t have been appalled at such behavior. To accept an invitation and then not show up, barring a life and death emergency, is a personal choice to be rude. Didn’t any of the people call with an excuse? If people didn’t want to attend, they should have just said no from the beginning. Maybe they thought (stupidly of course) that accepting and not showing up would not hurt her feelings as much as just saying no. Whatever, its not cultural, it’s personal rudeness.

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  • It indicates no manners, no class and frankly I’d be looking at the ‘friends’ who did not turn up in a new light. And I agree – it’s not cultural. It’s plain ignorance and disrespect to the feelings of another

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  • absolutely no excuse for such bad manners. i’m not sure what it is but more and more it seems like people cannot be bothered to be polite. our wedding was two weeks ago and there were several people who never bothered to rsvp letting us know that they wouldn’t be there or if they would. Then there were those that took the time to rsvp and didn’t show up. blech. as we were driving to our honeymoon and talking about the event, my DH and I agreed that it doesn’t offend us to invite someone and have them decline, it’s just that you should RESPOND and then keep to your word. jayzus. how hard is that?

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  • I’m smack-dab in the middle of Generation X and my mother would hog-tie and fillet me if I pulled a stunt like that. Like everyone else has already said, it’s beyond rude! Especially when your friend printed up invitations and there was FOOD involved.

    Sula: I’m ticked off for you! I always RSVP on wedding invites because of the expense. The happy couple has to know how much food to buy, how much alcohol to have on hand etc. It’s not rude to send back your RSVP that says “No, we won’t be there.” It’s rude not to!

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  • Patrice
    September 27
    7:36 pm

    No it’s not cultural, it’s pure bad manners! And I agree that there is a lack of basic education/training on manners and polite behaviour. Schools don’t teach anything like etiquette, or penmanship for that matter, parents barely know it, kids never heard of it. Emily Post is dead (and considered silly or unimportant for the last few decades). Ha! Maybe we all should take a lesson on why music, sports, vocational classes and the classics should be included in a balanced educational curriculum! Don’t get me started on RSVPs for weddings – the dang response cards even have postage on them! pheuttttttt!

    Courtesty is the grease that keeps the wheels of society moving smoothly.

    Thank you for listening. πŸ˜‰

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  • willaful
    September 27
    7:51 pm

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this same story from my online mom friends. I didn’t realize it happened at adult parties too, but little kids are routinely crushed. πŸ™

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  • It’s absolutely rude, but it’s definitely not a cultural thing, because something similar happened to me when I celebrated my 30th birthday. I sent out invitations to about 30 people, many of whom never bothered to reply at all. In the end, only about 10 people showed up – and I had food for at least 20. This was the first big birthday party I gave in years, and I was crushed.

    Schools don’t teach anything like etiquette, or penmanship for that matter,

    Sad, but true. At uni, I regularly have to talk to my students about how to adress their teachers and professors in e-mails… *roll eyes* And no, it’s not all right to answer a question in a test with “Who gives a crap?”.

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  • Lydia Harlow
    September 27
    8:24 pm

    lLso Off Topic:

    One of my friends (who is Catholic) once said that right after their congregation partook of communion, several peoplewould simply walk out the door before the services were finished. One Sunday the priest apparently had had enough of this and waited ’til the first man reached the double swinging doors leading out of the sanctuary. In a loud, carrying voice he said, “Jim Smith, I hope whatever it is you are going to do that you are in such an all-fired hurry to do beyond the doors of this churchisn’t going fish at Lake Geneva. Mass isn’t over yet.”

    Two other men and one woman who were trying to sneak out stopped dead in their tracks, turned and with red faces went back to their seats. Good old Jim was too embarrassed to do anything but turn and stand there shamefaced.

    Apparently one of the older congregationalists stood up and said, “The only reason you should ever leave this service before it is concluded is if you are heading for the hospital or your house is on fire. Otherwise, keep your butts where they are or chose another church to attend. It isn’t just rude to the rest of us sitting here when you get up and leave but it is disrespectful to our God.”

    After that Sunday, ushers were posted at the closed double doors but there were no more sneaker-outers.

    Some of you might find that offensive, feel the churchgoers are being held captive, but it is abdominally rude to interrupt others’ worshiping so you can get out of the parking lot first.

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  • That’s not acceptable behavior for any culture that I’m aware of.

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  • MB (Leah)
    September 27
    9:33 pm

    Rude. It’s just rude. But I’m not surprised. I’ve noticed a distinct degradation of socially polite behavior since I was a kid and brought up to RSVP, say thank you and excuse me and so on. More often than not, people do more and more things that are inconsiderate and then look at you like you lost your mind if something is said.

    Some of you might find that offensive, feel the churchgoers are being held captive, but it is abdominally rude to interrupt others’ worshiping so you can get out of the parking lot first

    Wow, I find what the priest and elder did even worse than the initial rude behavior. There’s a much better way to deal with that than to publicly humiliate someone, which is uncalled for unless they are doing something dangerous or harmful to others. I would have walked out, unembarrassed, defiant, mad as hell and never gone back.

    If it’s an ongoing thing with one or two people then the Priest should pull them aside and talk to them privately explaining that it’s kind of rude and a distraction to the others. If it’s a problem with many people then Priest should address it in general to the whole congregation. Let people know that if they want to participate in communion then they need to stay through the whole service from now on and that the doors will not be opened until it’s over. Then people can decide what they want to do.

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  • Lydia Harlow
    September 27
    10:19 pm

    You are assuming these rude people weren’t spoken to in the past. According to my friend, they were spoken to (by deacons and priest alike. Mention of it was made from the pulpit). It wasn’t a one time thing. They did it every Sunday.

    I was brought up a Methodist but converted to Judaism when I married. I can just see the old-time preacher I had as a child in Mississippi doing something like that. If such rudeness is brought to the attention of the congregation and that person walks out defiant, mad as hell, never to return, I’m not sure what that says of the person being there in the first place.

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  • SamG
    September 27
    11:07 pm

    I don’t know of a place where that is acceptable behavior. I know you can say ’12-ish’ in some less formal circumstances and people will show anywhere from 12 – 1. But, even more relaxed invitations and atmospheres expect you to show up if you say you’re going to.

    I don’t really want to say generational because I know some very polite kids and I don’t think they’d do this either. By the same token, though, I notice more rude driving, more ‘thank-god-for-the-rules-because-that-keeps-all-the-suckers-that-listen-to-them-OUT-OF-MY-WAY’ behaviors. And if the people doing that driving, line cutting or talking-over others have kids with them, those kids will be rude too.

    Sam

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  • It seems to be a wider symptom of socially sick behaviour. You have to insist very personally that they attend and afterwards lament extensively the lack of attendance (via experience with university students, currently) and all the delights they missed out on.

    It does feel like they don’t like you.

    Anyway, this sort of behaviour is self-perpetuating. People do not attend, so you do not put much effort in, thus it’s not fun to attend, thus…

    so how do we fix it? How do we fix these attitudes in the wider community?

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  • I feel so sorry for that person. That is pretty much what happened for my 21st birthday…and that is the last time I celebrated my birthday with a party. Actually, that is pretty much the last time I hosted a party…because I don’t ever want to go through such a humiliating experience again. I felt so bad for the people who did come…they were all so sweet and I just wanted to crawl through the floor.

    Oh, and as to the question, I think it is a combination of bad manners and embarrassment – they don’t want to tell the person they can’t attend (for whatever reason), so they don’t say anything.

    I was told of a wedding in which a couple accepted an invitation to attend and then never showed…and they were close friends of the bride & groom!

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  • Sounds cultural to me. Being taught manners is part of our culture. That people aren’t being taught indicates something in our culture that’s changing that.

    As far as I can see, the easier and more convenient it gets for people to give others common courtesy, the less inclined they seem to do so. I can’t imagine that nearly 20 people all had dire emergencies that same night, so why was it so hard to drop a quick e-mail, at the very least?

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  • I DO think of this kind of behavior as “California culture” to some extent. Not everyone acts this way, of course, but there is a tendency towards selfishness and schmoozing insincerity.

    My friends think I’m being rude when I say no to their parties. They’re so accustomed to everyone saying yes, even when they don’t mean it!

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  • It is just rude and thoughtless. I like that phrase B mentioned above –common courtesy. It is an idea that is becoming extinct. Our modern culture encourages people to see common courtesy as something too old-fashioned to give legitimacy, and I find this very sad.

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  • A while back my granddaughter had a bad accident. Several friends sent money gifts to help out with expenses as her family has no insurance.

    I notified each of them that the checks/money had arrived and thanked them, but now my granddaughter is better and is writing her own personal thank you note to each donor.

    An acquaintance argued that it wasn’t important for her to write her own note because I had already thanked the donors. My daughter and I felt that it was important for my granddaughter (aged 12) to learn the proper way to deal with such a situation.

    I have a notion we’ve stopped teaching our children manners.

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  • At our church Baptisms are done at the beginning of the service. One Sunday three families had their little ones baptized. One family (along with 2 pews of their relatives), walked out immediately after their child’s Baptism. Needless to say the other families were left stunned and embarrassed at the front of the church.

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  • It’s not cultural. It’s just rude.

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  • Anon76
    September 28
    3:11 pm

    If you formally RSVP, then you darn well better show up. Unless of course an emergency occurs. The host/hostess has put in a lot of time and effort based on your response. And for so many to fail to attend, mind boggling.

    As to calling if you suddenly can’t make it, well that is another doo-dad in and of itself. More and more people now-a-days don’t use landlines–and those are often unlisted for privacy purposes–they rely strictly on their cell phones. You can’t just look those numbers up in the phonebook and make a quick call. No matter the reason.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve desperately wanted to contact someone (only once in this type of circumstance) to find the person basically invisible.

    Just because you are acquaintances doesn’t mean you are on each other’s friends and family network. Or cell phone book, or whatever. LOL

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  • Lydia Harlow
    September 28
    4:16 pm

    God bless the poor child who was baptized into a family of rude, discourteous and thoughtless people. No doubt he’ll be the kind who will accept an invitation to a party then not bother to show because it wasn’t going to be about him. What a sweet precedent his ignorant family is setting already in his young life.

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  • Janean
    September 28
    6:31 pm

    I think it is rude to do the opposite as well -not bother to respond to an RSVP request at all and show up at the last minute.

    My mom threw me a baby shower Saturday. We’d sent out invitations with a request for guests to RSVP by calling my mom’s phone number. Only two people bothered to call and let mom know either way, but most of them showed up (some brought extra people we weren’t expecting). We knew a few of them were coming because they had mentioned being excited about it, but mom had no idea how many to plan for, and we didn’t have quite enough food. It was extremely frustrating for me in the time leading up to the shower; I didn’t know if I would have a good shower or if only a small handful of friends would show.

    The same thing happened when we were planning my wedding six years ago. We had more than two people send in RSVP cards, but there was still a huge number of people that showed up without letting us know either way. We ran out of punch and other drinks at the reception and someone had to run to a nearby convenience store for some soda.

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  • Cindy
    September 28
    8:58 pm

    Years ago, my mother held a Tupperware party and invited mostly family since she always went to theirs. They all said they were coming, none showed. Dad told her no more. My birthday parties were like that as well, although I had a few close friends that showed yearly. But considering all of that, I don’t bother with parties anymore.

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  • No question about it – it was a horrible and rude thing they did to your friend – nothing cultural about it.

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  • Dam Cindy, I feel for your Mom. That just sucks what her family did.

    AL, next time this happens, send ’em a note afterward. Tell them how sorry you are they missed the strippers or how everyone danced the nite away once Beyonce got there, or the delightful stories Adam Sandler amused everyone with. Then just don’t invite them again. Some people are rude-ass jerks, but the experience does accomplish one thing: now you know who your real friends are.

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