June 21, 2013 in Features

Clueless houseguests frustrating

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We live in Hawaii, and having just had back-to-back houseguests, I am at my wits’ end.

The first set of guests were short on money, so I offered to let them use my car while they were here so that they could see the island. Instead, they chose to sit in the house. “Oh, we’re here to see you.”

I am self-employed and work at home, and I can’t get any work done with them here. If they do finally go somewhere, they are crushed if I won’t go with them, and say so.

The second set of guests had plenty of money to go places and had a rental car, but still chose to stay at the house for most of the week, saying, “Oh, we are here to see you.” My entire routine is disrupted.

I feel like I am a prisoner in my home for a week at a time when people are here. They also don’t bother to ask if the timing is good … or if we’ve just had guests. They just call and say they are planning to come on these dates, because those dates work for them.

How does one handle these situations?

GENTLE READER: It is not how so much as when.

Miss Manners presumes that even if you didn’t issue these people some sort of invitation, you at least agreed to their proposals to visit. They didn’t break down your door.

Here, in ascending order, is a choice of things you could say when asked:

1. “Oh, I’m so sorry, but this is just a bad time for us. What a shame – we would have loved to see you.”

2. “Wonderful, we’ll be so happy to see you. I wish we could ask you to stay with us, but I can’t. Would you like me to recommend some hotels?”

3. “We’d love to have you; would the 12th to the 15th work? And you do know I work at home, so you’ll be on your own during the day.”

4. “Ah, sure.”

You’ve been picking No. 4, haven’t you?

Well, during your welcome and orientation to the house, you can still say the part about being on their own. But if you continue to abdicate control over your own house, Miss Manners cannot help you.

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