DEAR MISS MANNERS: We live in Hawaii, and having just had back-to-back houseguests, I am at my wits end.
By JUDITH MARTIN
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, were here to see you.
I am self-employed and work at home, and I cant get any work done with them here. If they do finally go somewhere, they are crushed if I wont go with them, and say so. This is highly frustrating.
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. Not only do I not get any work done, I dont even get my exercise in because I exercise to a DVD in my living room, and they are sitting there!
And dont even get me started on how many times I feed these people, and they dont offer to pay for groceries. Our electric bill in Hawaii is five times higher than that on the mainland, so our bill will go up at least $100 while guests are here, probably more.
One of the complaints is that we live so far from the beach. Its expensive to live at the beach! One beach is 20 minutes from the house; the other beaches are 50 minutes from the house. So instead of driving there, they sit in the house.
I know others in resort areas who have all the same problems. One friend says she wishes she could tell her guests, Fly, little birdies, fly! (Go somewhere anywhere!)
I feel like I am a prisoner in my home for a week at a time when people are here. They also dont bother to ask if the timing is good or if weve 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 didnt issue these people some sort of invitation, you at least agreed to their proposals to visit. They didnt break down your door.
Here, in ascending order, is a choice of things you could say when asked: (1) Oh, Im so sorry, but this is just a bad time for us. What a shame we would have loved to see you. Please let us know when youll be here again. (2) Wonderful, well be so happy to see you. I wish we could ask you to stay with us, but I cant. Would you like me to recommend some hotels? (3) Wed love to have you; would the 12th to the 15th work? And you do know I work at home, so youll be on your own during the day, but I so much look forward to evenings together. (4) Ah, sure.
Youve been picking No. 4, havent 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.
© Universal Uclick 6/21
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com, or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.