DEAR ABBY: I am an 83-year-old widow and live with my divorced son. We are both in fine health and recently moved to a new community, where we're trying to make friends. I joined a bridge club and have met some very nice women.
One of the members was having trouble assembling some furniture she recently purchased. I offered my son's services to help her (he's very good at this sort of thing). For my sake, my son agreed, and we all settled on 11 a.m. My son and I drove to "Sarah's" and arrived at 10:55 a.m. No one was home. We decided to wait. At 11:15, Sarah drove up. She offered no explanation for being late. My son assembled the piece, Sarah thanked him, and we left.
A couple of weeks later, Sarah called and invited us to lunch as a thank-you for my son's work. Lunch was to be at 11:30. We arrived at 11:25 and, guess what? No one was home! We waited in the car. At 11:40, I wrote a note, "Did you forget you invited us?" I left it on her door and we drove home. When we arrived back home, there was a nasty message on my answering machine. Sarah yelled at us for leaving and called us rude.
When she called a second time, I told her I expected a hostess to open the door when I was invited and had arrived. She replied that we were early and could not expect anyone to be home when we arrived early. She said she had just run to the bank. I pointed out that the bank is open until 6 p.m. and she could have gone after we had lunch. She said maybe it is OK to be early where I come from, but not in this country.
Abby, I was not born here, but I have lived in America for 50 years. I thought I was brought up with good manners, and nobody has ever said my "old country" ways are strange. Am I missing something? -- SURPRISED SONJA
DEAR SURPRISED: No. It's Sarah who's missing something -- common courtesy. A host should be home to greet guests when they arrive, even if they're slightly early. Shame on Sarah.