Thursday, July 13, 2006

House Guest

Phew! I am still recovering from a two day visit from an old friend with whom I shared a boy’s quarter with sixteen years ago in University. Normally, I really enjoy having people over from Niaja to visit as it’s an opportunity to catch up on all the news from home but this time I was so glad when we saw the back of her.

Her visit got me thinking about the sort of house guests people make and in my experience/opinion there are two types of house guests: Difficult ones and easy ones.

I like to think (at least I hope I am) that I am an easy house guest. By this I mean that when I go and stay with someone – especially if it’s a family – I follow all the house ‘rules’. These are not visible rules but things you pick up on when in someone else’s house. So this means that I wake up when the rest of the house wakes up, I eat when they eat and I help wash up in the kitchen afterwards or chip in with other little bits and bobs. I do this out of respect, consideration and a regard for my hosts and it’s also a way of saying thank you for having me over. For me I follow the general rule of when in Rome, do as the Romans and when in my home I do as I please.

Unfortunately, the excitement of seeing a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time soon turned into a mini-nightmare. Habits I had forgotten she possessed and which, when they got under my skin, I dealt with back in the day by retreating into my room and shutting my door, soon reared their ugly heads.

Now this friend comes from a rich family and so has had quite a privileged upbringing. She has always had people around waiting on her. She also possesses that faint air of arrogance some people from privileged backgrounds have. Oh and she has a thing about germs – she believes they are lurking around every corner waiting to leap on her. And as a house guest she very definitely falls under the ‘difficult’ category.

For the two and a half days she stayed with us, she operated entirely on her own wavelength. She approached every task at a very leisurely pace – wake up time was 10am  (the rest up us had been up and doing since 7:30am), then she spent two hours plus getting ready (only after I had to tell her TWICE to hurry things up), made us an hour late for church on Sunday by which time all the seats had been taken, and we didn’t leave the house until 1:15 pm on Monday to start her ‘set off early’ shopping spree. By which time of course I had a very tired and hungry toddler on my hands – not something you want when out shopping.

Then at the shopping mall, she took advantage of the personal shopper service (huh? You’re only buying kids clothes for goodness sakes besides you’re in H & M not Hermes!) – coming to think of it H&M doesn’t operate a personal shopper service, she just handed the clothes she wanted to buy to the shop assistant and had her carry them around the shop behind her! -, hummed and aahed over every item and dragged her feet every step of the way.

Oh and then there were the complaints – she couldn’t drink the water out of the tap so we had to get her bottled (the fact that my hubby and I have been drinking water out of the tap for the last 6 years and are still alive and kicking was lost on her), she left her drink half drunk because the waitress had ‘leaned’ across her glass, then she noticed some invisible stains on her clothes which she went on and on about before finally deciding to sue the airline for damaging her clothes (like I said you needed a microscope to see the stains she was referring to).

But what really, really peed me off was that she rinsed every plate and piece of cutlery she took out of my cupboards before using them. I couldn’t believe it!! How very rude! Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a bit of a clean and neat freak so to have someone rinsing my plates before use … well, I am surprised I didn’t blow a gasket! Thank goodness for my husband who tried to keep me calm by telling me she was with us for just a few days so I should just grin and bare it.

But there is one redeeming factor though, by the time she left my bath tub was gleaming because she had scrubbed it after each shower.

So, what sort of house guest do you make – do you follow the ‘rules’ or do you expect your hosts to dance to your own tune?


Blogger Gbemi's Piece said...

I would hope that I am an easy houseguest. I make my bed, do the dishes, help with the cooking, etc. But then again, that's my perception. If you asked people I've stayed with in the past, I would hope they would say the same thing. However, I never really did the wake up with the rest of the house thing consciously. I usually shower and show face when I hear my host's voice so there might be a little bit of lag there. I'll admit though, I don't like being someone else's guest. As much as possible, I book a hotel room so as not to be in anyone's way.

4:20 am  
Blogger In my head and around me said...

I would love to say that I am an easy guest. I pitch in and do house work (which I hate) and cooking (which i love) However, i am really shy and introverted, so I tend to stay within the confines of my room and come out only when I absolutely have to. Not very friendly, no? I just feel the need to do all I can so as not to constitute a nuisance. Like Gbemi, I don't like being someone else's guest.

And then talking about water..I admit to asking for bottled water when i went to stay with my cousin at Abuja for 2 days. I was willing to buy it for myself, just needed directions to a shop. I have been a victim of water allergies (breaking out in big, ugly boils) so I am generally careful.

So you tell me, am I a bad house guest?

11:29 am  
Blogger Pilgrimage to Self said...

@ Gbemi and in my head: I too avoid staying with people as much as I can. I like to have my freedom especially when I am on holiday.

@In my head: I can understand the bottled water situation in Niaja - I also drink bottled or boiled and filtered water. But the water here in Birmingham (UK) is very good and does no harm even less so when boiled.

And when one thinks that it's cheaper to buy soft drinks here than water, you begin to think twice about going down the bottled water only route.

11:35 am  
Blogger adefunke said...

This is a good question to ask, considering my position. From your piece it seems I am an easy guest; I eat what is cooked; drink what is offered; help with the cleaning, taking extra care to clean up after myself; etc in my opinion, anyone having you over for whatever reason deserves to have a good experience of the event. As a guest your job is make the experience as painless as possible for your hosts.

4:30 am  
Blogger Pilgrimage to Self said...

@adefunke: Very well put!

6:44 am  
Blogger Errata said...

I may be a bit like your friend! I was laughing at most of her antics as I can somewhat relate. Perhaps you try not taking some things so personally. I recall being a plate rinser when I came to the states and my cousin finally attempted cursing me out but it was really just an innate practice coming from lag. so not necessarily anything against you.

About the water my man is a pretty 'high end' individual and we flew out for a trip in Spain and though he's relatively humble, the water was an issue for him also. Mind you, we lodged in an avant garde upscale hotel in the five star district BUT my love's skin went haywire because of their water!!! I scrunched my face up at someone living in naij complaining of 'awayan' water but it is what it is.

10:32 pm  

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