Saturday, November 28, 2009

Top 10 Rules for Good Guests

During the course of your life; you realize living at home that you only long for one thing: To live away from home. This becomes the driving force behind making money and working and pretty much everything to do with adult life. Once you have your own place. Then YOU make the rules. It's a glorious thing to live on your own. Unfortunately, there is something that happens when you get your own place. You will get visitors. Sometimes these visitors will stay for a few hours or so, but sometimes, these visitors will stay for days and days. Many times, we call the latter form of visitor RELATIVES. I am of course speaking for others whose story has touched my heart and not my own family.

While talking to my son one day I told him that one of our responsibilities as parents is to help him become a good house guest. I figure this list is probably good for anyone to have since I find it is a pretty scarce skill set.

1. Just because we SAY make yourself at home doesn't mean we actually mean it - You are a guest. Not part owner. When the host says this, the host really means 'I hope you are comfortable, and I want you to accept my hospitality; I do not in any way want you to treat my house the same way you treat yours.' There is no reason for you to go wandering around the house like you own the place. In fact, it's a good idea if you keep yourself to your sleeping quarters, guest bathroom, and the living room. Everywhere else is OFF LIMITS. There are few things more annoying than snoopy house guests.

2. If there is only one left of any food item. Don't touch it. - As a house guest you will many times be offered food. This is the food you can have. Asking for other food in offhanded ways like 'oh what's this for?' and 'Say, that's a good looking cake' among other things is just an obnoxious way of saying you want that food. Hey, Bonehead! If we WANTED you to have that food, we would have offered it to you. As it is, you should be grateful we are feeding you at all. In fact, in a reversal of imposition, you could actually take the host out to dinner one night of your stay, or go to the local McKingburger and buy the dinner there. It would be a good way to show your appreciation.

3. Assume that the Remote is not for general use. - Unless you are the only person in the room, you should understand that the entertainment of the house happens at the discretion of the owners and the children of the owners. This means that if there are kids in the house and you are watching TV, you probably should be watching spongebob. Don't ask to watch YOUR program. We really aren't interested in it because if we were, we would be watching it. It goes without saying that you shouldn't be fiddling with the remote, or for that matter any other gadget or device that resides in the hosts dwelling. Assume that this rule is particularly strong for any computer usage. It doesn't matter if your host has things 'set up wrong' it is not your place to correct those things unless he expressly gives the ok to do so. It's nice of you to offer, but the last thing you want to be is the last guy that touched the computer before it broke.

4. Unless it is by prior arrangement, you get up and shower AFTER we do - If you are staying with family for the express purpose of getting to the airport early the next day (which is an imposition by itself) then it's understood that you will need to use facilities before us. If you are here on a cheap vacation, understand that when you get up at whatever hour you are used to and burn all the hot water, you are not only waking us up, but then you are adding insult to injury by making us take luke warm showers. We still probably have to go to work and go about our daily lives so don't mess up our routine.

5. When you are eating, clean up your place to the sink - Anything more than this is too much and anything less than this is slovenly. By placing your dirty dishes in the sink, you are moving them to the best stage for the manager of the kitchen to position the dishware in the dishwasher. If you put them in the dishwasher yourself, that's lovely, but probably wrong. The owner of the kitchen knows exactly how and where to put each dish and utensil. If the host isn't that picky, you can ask them where they want the dishes. Watch them carefully as they put the dirty dishes away for you and follow suit afterward. If there is no dishwasher? Assume you are the dishwasher. It is a small price to pay for free room and board.

6. Men, if you are a guest, keep the seat down - I'm not sure how men invented peeing standing up, but I think at best it's a mess. It's adding an extra level of skill that you simply don't need when voiding your bladder. Not only that, but if you decide that more business needs to be done, you have positioned yourself in the wrong pose for that action. Yes, yes, you are a man's man and men are supposed to pee standing up. Why? Well because you can that's why. Quit asking so many questions! Be that as it may, the most neutral position for the toilet seat is DOWN, and while you are a guest, it's best to keep it that way.

7. The host's kids are the host's responsibility - you have no business correcting or dispensing advice to the children of your host. None. If you see activities that you think are out of line to the point that something needs to be done then you should probably talk to the host about it. The circumstances for such a conversation must be dire indeed. something along the lines of this: 'Um, hey, I just noticed that your son was dealing drugs out of the window of his bedroom, and the deal went bad and he had to kill some homies. none of my business, I just thought you should know'. Otherwise, you are probably best advised to leave the situation alone because it could be that the Host is ignoring that behavior on purpose. The converse to this rule would be your own progeny. If you have kids at your hosts house it is not the hosts responsibility to correct your kids, but it IS their prerogative to do so if the kids are not obeying house rules. If the host has to correct behavior of your kids, you should graciously apologize and keep your kids in line. They can act like animals in YOUR house.

8. As a guest, you should take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints - This old wilderness camping motto applies to you as a guest. Except of course that you shouldn't be taking pictures either. The point is, you need to be as unobtrusive as possible. It should appear as though you don't even really exist in the house. Provide whatever assistance you can and cause as little disruption as you can. You need to be the person you are not at home. You need to clean up after yourself and maybe even after others as well. They are worse slobs than you? Doesn't matter. Be a good guest!!!

9. Good guests don't have gas or political opinions - If you are in your own house, you can be as stinky as you want. It's your house, your castle. But like a dog leaving his scent in another dogs neighborhood, there is NO reason for you to feel THAT at home as a guest. I don't think I need to say anything more on the subject. As far as the subject of gas goes, the same applies to politics. Don't bring them up and don't display an opinion unless pressed and you agree with the hosts viewpoint. You should never find yourself being in the position of bringing discord into anyone's home. I'm sure you would love to set your host straight on night killing issues like the environment, or abortion or the current or past administrations, but instead, how about everyone goes to bed without bad feelings ruining their sleep?

10. The hosts business is his own, period. - It is faintly rude to be asking about the comings and goings of the host as the guest of the house. As a guest, you have no right to even be curious. If you are asking about the schedule of your host so that you can impose on them to run an errand for you, don't. Unless you need medicine for the orphanage you are running in their basement, just stop right there. Run your own errands. In fact, offer to the host to take care of any errands they might need doing.

This is just a small series of guidelines. Really small. There are several other rules, but I only have 10 spots to take up. If you are offended by this list, I'm sorry. Sorry that someone didn't tell you before this, but your hosts were probably just too nice to mention it. The fact that they had this blog up as their homepage when you got on their computer might be more than mere coincidence.


Anonymous said...

I love your list! I came across this today because I was looking up information on how others handle house guests.

I've had the worst in my home. My husband tries to be so accommodating for the guests, so much so that he can't tell them (his own family) what makes me upset with them in my own home, for fear to hurt their feelings. Years of inconsideration by these same and other guests have made me extremely sensitive about having most guests, and has created drama in the family to where the bad guests don't want to come over anymore. Fine for me, but my husband blames me for not being congenial enough, even though we've discussed the other partys' bad behaviors many times.

I've had unwanted guests who have overstayed their welcomes. Wanted guests who have overstayed their welcomes (years - very unwelcome and I told my husband others would never put up with this). Most guests take off their shoes when asked. However, how do you ask all the men that come to sit down when they pee? My husband and son both sit down to pee at home. There's no mess, no consistent urine-smelling bathroom, no toilet seat up. It's the man's job to ask other men to do this. Otherwise, should a sign be posted in our bathroom? It's a tough one.

We've had family bring their kids and the little kids start writing on the wall. They do it at home and the parents don't stop them. So of course the kids are going to write on the walls of guests. My husband asked me not to clean it in front of them (it's rude, do it later) but how do you let them know that this type of behavior is unacceptable? If we tell them they are offended. I have no power to tell them or to clean the wall in front of them so they'll "get the hint" that allowing their children freedom in others' homes is wrong, so I am upset about how my house is treated. The guests pick up on my feelings and they don't want to come over anymore. Drama is created, and somehow I'm portrayed as an unwelcoming monster.

Guests have come uninvited into my kitchen, taken out my pots and pans and started cooking. They've ruined my blenders, broken items, and made messes. They have demanded to wash the dishes even though I told them to leave them, I'll do them. (It's one thing to ask but if you're told no, kindly walk away.) They've gone through my fridge and have taken things without asking. One kid opened a bag of chocolate chips for cookies out of the fridge and spilled them all over the place, with their adult standing right there drinking something from the fridge. I've had guests empty my candy bowl into their pockets. And the guests don't understand why they feel unwelcome in my house now...

I have birds. They've just walked up, opened the cages and let my birds out because they want to see them. They go through my master bedroom uninvited and use the bathroom there. Who said they could do this?

These guests have been beyond imposing in my home. I was taught to be a good house guest. I come, I sit on your couch. I talk with you. I compliment you on your decorations and belongings. I don't touch anything. I don't snoop. I ask before I use the bathroom, and I don't look through your cabinets when I'm there. If I use something (even the guest towel) I put it neatly where it belongs. If I need water or a drink, I'll ask, but typically I'd rather suffer in silence for awhile then ask you to get me something. If you serve me something I'll eat or drink only what you've given me. I won't be a hog and eat everything in front of me. Plate of cookies? I might have one or two. Candies? One only thanks, but only because you've offered. I sometimes bring a small gift. I don't stay long-if visiting from out of town overnight only if we've arranged it together, and no more days even if you ask because I don't want to burden or bother my beloved friend.

Don said...

Nice list. Found by accident.

My only thought: I don't want my guests clearing their plates from the table. I'll clear the table when I'm ready and serve desert.

I want them to stay put and out of the way.

Macotar said...

That's a good point. I suppose I should have mentioned follow house rules. Often people do not want their kitchen invaded by outsiders. But I think the thought is nice. They can offer to help at least.