January 27, 2004

Being a Good Guest

A writer on the Editors' Association of Canada mail list asked for comments and horror stories on guests, so I came up with this list:

1) Never use your host's personal bathing items. When my wife and I were living in an apartment with a single bathroom, a female guest once helped herself to my wife's scrubbing cloth - I'm not sure what to call it, not a loofah, but a rough cloth. Anyway, my wife found it soaking wet and covered with hair, and was completely grossed out.

2) If there is only one bathroom, and you want to bathe or shower, ask if anyone would like to use the facilities first.

3) Clean your hair out of the shower/bathtub.

4) Ask before using household items, especially if you're going to use them for purposes they were not intended for. Another guest helped herself to a pile of wooden and plastic kitchen items so her young children could play with them in the bath.

5) Ask for, or if you and your host are comfortable with you poking around the kitchen, help yourself to a big glass of water to put beside your bed when you go to sleep. That way you won't be stumbling around in the middle of the night waking people up if you get thirsty.

6) Never poke around in private rooms that are not obviously public areas, or that you have been told are free to use. This includes the host's bedroom, the host's bathroom if there is a guest bathroom, home offices, etc.

7) Never use a host's computer without getting permission. And never, never, NEVER install software on your host's computer without getting permission, and this includes games for your kids!

8) Don't stay up watching TV after your hosts have gone to sleep. If you can't sleep, read quietly in your room.

9) Offer to help, especially if the visit is longer than one day. "Can I help set the table?" "Would you like me to peel those carrots?" "Can I give you a hand drying the dishes?" Don't just sit around like a pasha, give the host the opportunity to accept or decline.

10) Inform the host of any food allergies or vegetarian practices *before* your first meal. Relations can become strained if you're allergic to tomatoes or don't eat beef, but don't let your host know until the meat sauce for the pasta is on the table.

11) Do your best to eat what is served unless you do have an allergy or are a vegetarian.

12) Don't make long-distance phone calls without asking. If you do make a lot of long-distance calls, it might be nice to leave a thank you note and a gift certificate behind for the approximate amount when you leave. It's a nice surprise for the host. Cash is crass.

13) Be observant, and try to follow your host's house rules. No shoes in the house? No feet on the coffee table? Etc.

14) On the morning that I leave, I like to strip the sheets and pillowcase(s) on the bed I've been using, fold them up and leave them nicely stacked ready for the laundry. If I know the host well, and I feel comfortable doing so, I may even toss them in the washer and start it.

I think most of these are common sense, but it never amazes me at how many "senseless" people there are.

Posted by Paul at January 27, 2004 04:18 PM