DEAR MISS MANNERS: If a woman has made a luncheon engagement with a gentleman and she is late, how long should the gentleman wait before he leaves the restaurant? My reply, when asked by someone, was “at least 30 minutes.” Is this correct, or is there a time limit?
GENTLE READER: Although there was never a specific time limit, the question has been complicated by the advent of continuous communication. Half an hour to 45 minutes without any contact is a reasonable upper limit. But if the lady calls, apologizes profusely -- and explains that she is caught in traffic but expects to be there in 46 minutes (according to her GPS) -- the gentleman is expected to accept the apology gracefully.
He can use the intervening time to contemplate whether the behavior is likely to be repeated if a subsequent invitation is proffered, and the lunch itself to judge whether it is worth the wait.