A question of etiquette

I have an etiquette question.

I was recently in email contact with someone, trying to fix a time for him to come round and drop off some paperwork at my house. He said he was free all day and asked me what time would be convenient for me. So I said: “I’m popping out now […] but I should be back after 3pm, so any time after then is fine.”

I was unexpectedly delayed on the way home, but I still got through the door at 2:40pm…to find the paperwork had been pushed through the letterbox while I was out. He’d apparently interpreted “any time after 3pm” to mean “before 3pm”. I see this a lot with early birds of the older generation: a failure to cope with concepts like “any time after [stated time]”.

A lot of my dealings with early birds end with me asking myself: “Does this person really not grasp the difference between ‘before’ and ‘after’? Or is it just that they prefer to ignore arrangements in favour of doing things when they feel like it? And if it’s the latter, why did they go through the whole ritual of making those arrangements in the first place?”

Or maybe the open-endedness of the time window makes them feel insecure, and of course early birds always reach for extra earliness to make them feel more secure. So they hear “any time after 3pm” and think “3pm! That’s the fixed point here! Got to do it by 3pm! Pedal to the metal!”

Anyway, my etiquette question is: do I have to give the body a proper burial, or is it OK if I just throw it to the neighbourhood wolves?

JOKING. (Probably.)

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