A Good Houseguest

We’ve all either invited ourselves or been invited to visit friends, family, or friends of friends.  We show up with expectations of what we need to do to be a good houseguest, and the host/ess(es) too have expectations. 

I have had guests, which I love, throughout my adult life, and I too have been a houseguest.  If you were to profile the perfect houseguest what would s/he look like?  Would s/he stay only two or three nights?  Offer to help cook, buy groceries, pay for some of the little daily expenses? Be considerate of your time, habits and property?  Naturally.

The past four months have seen three different guests fly into Denver, stay Chez Dee and leave.  Two of them need to learn some houseguest etiquette, the other one was the poster child of perfection.  Now I don’t set rules, I just want my guests to know that I have to work, I go to bed and get up early, I am a picky eater, and I’m glad to help guide them, lend them my car, if they ask and need it.   If my guest(s) are on vacation and I can improve upon their visit to not only my house, but my city, I’m happy to do so.  I will not though, tour the city with them when I have projects to complete and duties to perform.

One day a few weeks ago while a friend was visiting, I took mass transit downtown so my guest could get around using my car. All I asked was for her to come pick me up at the allotted time and we’d travel west from there.  I was in training from 8 a.m. – noon, and we initially planned for her to pick me up, have a nice lunch together and then I’d take her to her event.  Well, number one she had eaten a late breakfast and wasn’t hungry when I called to let her know I was through my training.  Number two, she wasn’t considering coming to pick me up because she had work to do.  Grrrrrr.    This is also the guest who brought her laptop to the dinner table before we were through dinner so our dinner guest could help her compose a letter. Is it me, or is that incredibly rude?

Time.  If you are going to the airport, train or bus station to catch that plane, train or bus you know that your transportation leaves at a specific time, right?   That plane, train or bus doesn’t dawdle and wait for you, does it?  No! Why then do some people think that others’ time is not as important as theirs?  Punctuality is important to me.  It may not be to my friends, but it is to me, and sometimes I understand that I may put pressure on people to “meet my deadlines.”  If I say I’m leaving at 8, that doesn’t mean 8:20.  If I say pick me up at 12:30, that doesn’t mean 1:10, does it?  Is it just me?

Labor Day weekend five of us converged on a small town in NC to stay with a couple in their fabulous mountain/lake house.  Getting seven people to do anything that’s not mandatory is somewhat of a challenge.  But we – as house guests – knew that we would abide by the rules of the house and the times of our host and hostess.  Donating, cleaning, cooking, sharing and otherwise making the weekend smooth were a given.  All seven of us pitched in and no one squabbled over who’s turn it was to clean, cook, drive, etc.  It was a great weekend. We respected each others get-up and go-to-bed habits, as well as privacy.  I watched our hosts and the other guests and saw the rhythm of working together to make it fun and rewarding. That weekend will be a positive impression for years.  Now if seven of us can do it, two or three can as well.

I want you to come visit, and I also want you to know that I more than appreciate your adding your energy in the kitchen, around the house, at the dining room table, your bedroom, the bathroom – you know what I’m talking about.   Be a polite guest and act as if it were your house, but with a different time-table.

My friends offer to buy groceries, pay for gas, wash my car when they borrow it, the list goes on.  What do you do that your host/ess appreciates?  How do you act in others’ homes? 

Be a good houseguest and show some flexibility, courtesy and genuine thanks for the free room and board. My house is not a hotel room with a back porch, it’s my house. I really love having you join in when I’m cooking and cleaning, when I’m getting ready to go somewhere, and when I’m sitting down having a glass of wine.  A good houseguest is really a pleasant addition to my routine – a roommate I don’t have, and realize I don’t want, but have the pleasure of someone’s company for a few days.

Come visit anytime, and know that I have expectations of you the same way you most likely have expectations of me and my routine.  You appreciate good houseguests, the same way I do.

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