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I Think I’ll Invite Myself In For A Spot of Tea

About four years ago, my husband and I left a major city to move to a small-town in another province. We bought a very small acreage in October, and the previous owners had some things left in the shed which were to be moved at a later date in the spring. This was previously agreed upon and was perfectly fine with us.

Anyway, spring came and the previous owners came to get their things. When they were done packing it all in their truck, the man looked at me and said “Ok, we should go inside now for a cup of coffee.”

I just stared at him with a dumbfounded look on my face. I was not prepared to offer coffee or to invite anyone into my home.

I was young at the time and not used to dealing with situations like this, but there was no way I was having them in my home. I didn’t know them, nor did I wish to become acquainted with them. All I could do was stammer “I’m sorry, but that’s not possible right now.”

You would think that would be enough, but no. This (older*) man pushed onward. I even lied and told him we were out of coffee, and what did he do? Suggested tea instead. Finally, after getting angry because he wouldn’t let it go, I finally snapped and said “I’m not inviting you into my house for coffee!” Rude? Perhaps. But I was embarassed at having been put on the spot, annoyed that a near-stranger would be so presumptious, and just plain didn’t want to have company in!

Ugh. I hate it when people do this. Don’t invite yourself in. Don’t stick around if you’ve not been invited in. And don’t put people on the spot. It’s rude.

*I mention this because where I come from, we’re taught to always respect our elders and to pretty much take anything they dish out, no matter how rude, or even abusive, it might be. As you can imagine, I’ve rejected this part of my culture. 1005-10

{ 44 comments… add one }
  • Typo Tat October 6, 2010, 6:21 am

    Wow, LW, I do admire your spine.

  • Giles October 6, 2010, 6:25 am

    I spent a lot of my adult life in Nova Scotia, where if you invited someone into your house you no more didn’t offer them tea or coffee than you’d expect them to sit on the floor. Then again, inviting yourself into someone’s house for beverages is pretty rude. I’d chalk it up to them still thinking of your new house as “their’s”. Some people have trouble letting go.

    Personally, though, if this was an older couple and the sale had been on good terms, I probably would have invited them in unless my plumbing was all over the floor or something, and if that was the case apologize that the place was such a mess and I couldn’t have guests.

  • Tundra October 6, 2010, 6:43 am

    Giles- they weren’t invited in though, it wasn’t a social call.

  • josie October 6, 2010, 6:56 am

    I think your first response to him should of been sufficient. My first thought was “maybe he had something hidden in the house yet and wanted to retrieve it”…..been reading too many novels.

  • NotCinderell October 6, 2010, 7:33 am

    OP, you were not rude at all. You were direct, but you were forced into that.

  • AMC October 6, 2010, 7:57 am

    This reminds me of another post from a while back about a family that moved into a new house but couldn’t seem to get rid of the old tenents. Good for you, OP, for standing up to the man.

  • Shalamar October 6, 2010, 8:17 am

    That’s unreal! I agree with Giles that those folks probably still thought of that house as theirs. When my in-laws moved, they’d periodically drive by their old house and then indignantly report on how the new owners had had the audacity to paint the fence a different colour or replace the mailbox.

    I think that if the previous owner had said “Boy, moving’s thirsty work. Could I trouble you for a cup of coffee?”, it would’ve been a different story.

  • QueenofAllThings October 6, 2010, 8:38 am

    Perhaps they wanted to see what you’d done with/how you’d decorated their former home.

  • Daisy October 6, 2010, 8:42 am

    Unfortunately, in the times in which we live we have to balance politeness with common sense. Personally, I don’t invite strangers into my home when I’m alone, and “people from whom we bought our house” would qualify as strangers to me. And for anyone who believes that the presence of the strangers wife made the situation safe I have two names – Karla Holmolka and Paul Bernardo. I think LW handled the situation just fine.

  • etimodnar October 6, 2010, 9:02 am

    I feel your pain! I was serving drinks for a friend-of-a-friend’s photography exhibition a number of years ago and he popped round my place a day or so later to pay me. He hung around for ages, it was creepy! I was 19, lived alone in a 1 bedroom apartment, had just gotten out of the shower and he was mid-thirties at the time. Ew!! I should have done what you did, but didn’t want to be rude.

    Good on you for being firm about it. You shouldn’t have to provide a reason, if you don’t want people in your house, it’s your house. Though I may forgive him for his presumption first time, that he continued pushing the issue is a bit much!

  • AAA October 6, 2010, 9:20 am

    OP was correct in not caving in and letting these strangers in the house. Not only was it rude to demand entrance, but also people need to be aware of safety issues. She didn’t know these men!

  • BusyBee October 6, 2010, 9:32 am

    How rude! Good for you for sticking to your guns!

  • dorrie78 October 6, 2010, 10:00 am

    *Standing and applauding the OP*
    You were not the slightest bit rude. We can speculate all day as to why the previous owner wanted access to your home, but this was not a social call and you were completely within your rights to say no. The previous owner was beyond rude when he should have been grateful that you were willing to accomodate his request to store some of his belongings.

  • gramma dishes October 6, 2010, 10:10 am

    Given the circumstances I think the OP did just fine. It’s most unfortunate that she was basically forced to behave in a way that would normally be considered rude, but she really had no choice. It was either say what she said or be bullied into doing something she did not want to do and which may not have been safe.

    I am curious though as to the older man’s reaction when she finally just blurted out that she wasn’t going to invite them into HER house. (I stress the word her because I agree with Shalamar that they may have still thought of the house as “theirs”.) The OP doesn’t mention what he did/said when he finally realized that what he wanted to do just wasn’t going to happen!

  • Enna October 6, 2010, 10:31 am

    It was rude for them to demand to go in and ask for coffee. I’d say the OP was short, verging on rude but no way as near as rude as the man was for demarnding to go in and have a drink. Good to stand up for yourself. It would be different if the man had said “I’m feeling light headed/dizzy” and he had gone pale/shaking from lack of food. I woud have said something simillar along the lines of “this is my house it is rude to demarnd entrance/sustiance.”

  • Chocobo October 6, 2010, 10:43 am

    Hooray for backbone!

    I think the true lesson here, compiled with a previous story about returning homeowners, is never to let previous owners leave things on your property for a later pickup. The move-in date is when everything on the property becomes the new owner’s. If they can’t get it off the property in time, that’s their problem and not yours.

    Now I know not to negotiate such things! It appears to generally be disastrous.

  • Louise October 6, 2010, 11:07 am

    Does this count as smacking the guy with the notorious clue-by-four?

    OP, I think you did great. You tried to deflect him politely and when he tried to bulldoze you, you stood your ground. I hope he threatened to never darken your door again just before he stormed off. 😀

  • bmyster October 6, 2010, 11:26 am

    I agree. The OP wasn’t rude—direct, yes, but when subtle hints aren’t taken, more direct methods need to take place. And I feel the directness was justified in this case. Letting total strangers enter your house (even if they owned it previously) may raise safety issues.

    I don’t think politeness and etiquette mean we all become doormats, letting anyone do what they want. I think they are ground rules for social interaction, to try to smooth the differences that exist between different people. Boundaries are still important.

  • OP October 6, 2010, 11:35 am

    @Giles – The truth of it is that not only did my husband and I move, we owned a restaurant. Given that all of our nourishment needs were being met elsewhere, my kitchen at my house was a total mess with boxes laying around everywhere. In fact, the entire house was a mess with boxes still not unpacked. We simply never had time to get around to it because we were so busy with the restaurant. I don’t even remember if the coffee maker was even unpacked at that time.

  • badkitty October 6, 2010, 11:48 am

    You did fine, and I wish I had your backbone when it comes to elders! I had an incident a year ago in which I was at a field event (sport for dogs) and a much older man came up to me and shouting horrible things about how I must treat my animal! I was so shocked and shaken all I could do was stand there and take the verbal abuse until he was done with me… later it turned out that this horrid little man has a reputation for such things, especially when he views a person as competition! I literally ran off and cried after, but when I calmed down I wished I could have managed to respond to him as firmly as I would have someone my own age. The “respect for elders” rule is a tough one to pull yourself out from under, even when the circumstances call for it. Bravo!

  • OP October 6, 2010, 11:52 am

    @gramma dishes – he was annoyed, for lack of a better word, that I refused to let him in.

  • whoop October 6, 2010, 12:02 pm

    Creepy. I’m wont to agree with Chocobo – I’m never going to let a former owner store stuff on my property! And, I’m changing all of the locks the day I move in.

    Great job, OP.

  • Maryann October 6, 2010, 12:24 pm

    Oh God.

    Daisy, I Googled Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo on your recommendation. I have generally thought of the presence of another woman being at least somewhat of a reduction of risk when one would otherwise be alone with a strange man.

    Thank you. I will never, ever think that way again. Every young woman should know about Karla Homolka. Her own sister, may she rest in peace, couldn’t trust her!

  • Wink-n-Smile October 6, 2010, 1:28 pm

    My alarm bells were ringing, as soon as he asked the second time. I’m picturing – young wife, husband not home, old owner and some male helpers moving the things. If they could have gotten into your house with you, they could have really taken advantage. Walls block a lot of sound, as well as views, and just how close ARE your neighbors?

    Yes, at the end, you were a bit short, but shortness, and even downright rudeness, are sometimes necessary when you have to protect yourself from someone who WILL NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER. After all, if he was that pushy about going inside for coffee, just how pushy would he be if he decided he wanted something else from you? These were his outside-the-neighbors-might-see manners.

    Am I paranoid? Perhaps. But then again, I’m also a statistic, so I think a bit of paranoia is in order. And in this case, your response was, too. I might have gone further and threatened to call the police if they didn’t get off my land, but then again, I’m paranoid. Congratulations for doing it without invoking law enforcement.

    P.S.: Know the laws in your area, regarding trespassing. In some states, it’s perfectly legal to shoot them. Not saying you SHOULD, but if you know it, and tell them that you know it, they’ll more than likely not want to test you.

  • Brenda October 6, 2010, 2:32 pm

    *adds to standing ovation for OP*

    Thank you for not being a doormat. Even if the man was not dangerous, this may have been his way to develop an acquaintance you would not want, giving him and his wife the assumed right to drop by any time, phone, etc.

  • Sharon October 6, 2010, 3:44 pm

    @ Enna I am not understanding your post very well. You say the OP was short, verging on rude. Yet you go on to say that if the man said he was feeling ill you would virtually do the same thing she did.

    I think she handled the situation perfectly. I have never met the people who owned our home before we bought it. They are total strangers to me.
    If the former owner showed up to retreive something he had left and then suggested we go in for coffee, I would just answer the way OP did.
    If he then told me he was “I’m feeling light headed/dizzy” and he had gone pale/shaking from lack of food.” as you suggest in your post, I would offer to bring him a lawn chair and a drink of water and offer to call 9-1-1. Why tell someone off when they have just told you they are felling sick?

  • Bonnie October 6, 2010, 4:18 pm


    I think that Enna is just missing a transitional phrase, as in, “What he did was rude, unless he was sick. In your situation, I would have done the same thing as you OP.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Enna.

  • Simone October 6, 2010, 5:25 pm

    I have a problem with a few of the posters suggesting that yes, she was rude, but that it’s justified by the greater rudeness of the man. I completely disagree. The OP was not rude at all. She had no obligation to invite them in, it was not rude not to do so, and once someone is overly pushy manners no longer apply.

    Kudos to you OP.

  • LEMon October 6, 2010, 6:11 pm

    I believe what Enna was saying is three parts. One agreeing that OP handled it well as described. Two suggesting that the only way it might have been ok is if the man appeared ill before he said anything and then asked for help. Three reiterating that Enna would have done the same thing OP did in the situation given.

  • Jan74 October 6, 2010, 6:58 pm

    She doesn’t have to invite anybody into her home, but as far as it being a safety issue, I’m even more paranoid than everyone else here: she said the house was small acreage. That means if they wanted to rob her/rape her/kill her they could have easily done so right there, in the garden or in the shed.

    Your garden is not a magical shield of protection. In the letter about the exterminator stealing utilities, even though it was clearly a suburban setting with nearby neighbors, someone pointed out how by going outside to confront the man, the OP had put herself at risk. In this case, she was definitely already at risk.

  • Jen October 6, 2010, 7:03 pm

    @AMC – I thought that it was that older post and checked the date-stamp two lines in! XD

  • Michelle P October 6, 2010, 7:41 pm

    Cheers to the OP for the backbone!

    By the way, Karla Homolka is free. She only served twelve years and is now living with her husband and son, under a different name. Free as a bird.
    Absolutely right, WinknSmile.

  • Jillybean October 6, 2010, 8:22 pm

    Sharon I think Enna just had poor paragraph construction, I took this:

    “It would be different if the man had said “I’m feeling light headed/dizzy” and he had gone pale/shaking from lack of food. I woud have said something simillar along the lines of “this is my house it is rude to demarnd entrance/sustiance.””

    As in – had he been ill and needed something that would have been different, but OTHERWISE I would have said something similar.

  • patty October 7, 2010, 3:53 am

    @AMC I thought it was that previous post for a minute too.
    @OP you did fine, not rude at all in the face of a man who you didn’t know and who’s intentions were unclear.

  • Kai October 7, 2010, 8:21 am

    The OP was in no way rude at all. It is her home, she can do what she pleases with it, and the previous owner no longer has any right to the property. He was lucky the owners were gracious enough to allow him to store some of his belongings.

    While I can see the point some of the posters are making regarding safety, I think this was simply a case of, he still saw the property as his. And from the sounds of it, is also used to women doing what they’re told.

    I highly doubt he or his friends intended to hurt the OP (otherwise he would have when she said no), I think he just thought “Well, I’ve just done some hard work. You go be a good little girl and fetch me a coffee while I go inside and put my feet up.”

    Again, the OP did nothing wrong and was not rude at all. Good on her for standing up for herself.

  • RP October 7, 2010, 11:50 am

    I agree with all of the posters who say the OP wasn’t rude. She started of completely polite and only escalated when necessary.

    @Jan74 – That is a good point, they could have attacked her outdoors especially given the size of the lot.

    Regarding Karla Homolka: I volunteered with a non-profit promoting safety education and I have heard other stories of a woman aiding or participating in the sexual assault of another woman. Not a lot of them mind you, but it does happen.

    All that said, it’s not always possible to rustle up a posse to back you up when this sort of thing happens so I’m in no way bashing the OP for not having someone else there with her.

  • Amanda October 7, 2010, 5:24 pm

    I guess he thought that since he used to live there, he still had the right to go in whenever he wanted. Glad that the poster had a spine!

  • IH October 8, 2010, 7:57 am

    I agree with Kai.

    The OP mentioned having been raised to respect her elders and always do as they asked, if this man is from the same background/area he might well just be so used to anyone younger than him (I can’t help thinking this would apply to women especially) doing whatever he wanted that it never crossed his mind that the OP would refuse. Particularly if he still thought of the house as his. In his mind he wanted a cup of coffee, had reason to believe the OP could provide it, therefore she should, end of story.

    Of course that’s not how it works at all and I think the OP did exactly the right thing under the circumstances. In theory the first polite refusal should have been enough, but sometimes that’s just not the case and when giving in is out of the question being more firm is the only option. (Especially since as the OP later explained it really wasn’t possible, the house was a mess, she didn’t know where the coffee maker was and rarely used the kitchen in general.)

  • Asharah October 8, 2010, 12:19 pm

    Anyone who might think having a woman around makes it safer should sit through a “Wicked Attraction” marathon on Investigation Discovery. They started with Karla Holmolka & Paul Bernardo and went on to Charlene & Gerald Gallego, David Parker Ray & his girlfriend, Cameron & Janice Hooker, James Marlow & Cynthia Coffman, Alvin & Judith Neeley etc. etc

  • DocCAC October 13, 2010, 11:45 pm

    To anyone who thinks that the OP was being rude should read the book “The Gift of Fear” by de Gavin. Women esp. tend to do things they would rather not on the thinking of “it would be rude to refuse .”. On the face of it, maybe the OP should have been polite and said OK, but *something* made her stand firm on not letting them in. Good for her!

    If nothing else, it is easier to not have someone you really don’t know in YOUR house (even if they think of it as still theirs) than to try and get them out. How I know this is another story and not one for this forum.

  • Mabel November 6, 2010, 2:09 pm

    DocCAC, that is a very good book. I had to get another copy because I gave mine to a school friend who had someone e-stalking her. Gavin de Becker, the author, is a respected security expert so he knows what he’s talking about.

    He wrote another one called Fear Less, which addresses fears about personal and national safety stemming from the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It’s a very helpful book for anyone who is anxious about those issues and wishes to empower themselves against fear.

  • Lisa November 16, 2010, 7:39 pm

    I just had a friend drop by unannounced. Because where I am living is where she worked for ten years, and because I had a chat with her on the phone today, somehow she came up with the idea that she could drop by for an impromptu visit. And then she stands at my door and calls me too. Too bad she took the bus over and has to wait an hour for the next one. I would never go to her house without calling, and I have never even been inside her house though I have been there numerous times. I am appalled by people, especially people who have known me for years..

  • Lisa November 16, 2010, 7:55 pm

    I think that someone who leaves stuff after they move out is sketchy. It is an exuse to come back and only a creep leaves stuff behind as an excuse to come back later to see if he can break through your boundaries. Like the earring left, the book left…etc. Creeper. I feel angry when people step on other peoples space. Thanks for letting me vent.

  • NostalgicGal December 3, 2015, 2:30 am

    Old and new.

    New, I bought the house across the street. I rightfully asked for a key to the house at closing. NO the house was still full of their stuff and they would be back on such a date to get it (less than a month from closing). I actually helped them the last hour shove things into the Uhaul as I was stronger than she was and they HAD to get packed. And stopped the vultures from across the street to come pick up all the tools he had to leave behind, and in the contract now belonged to me. I walked around the corner of the house to surprise the latter, and they were directed as to what they could have (some scrap metal) as I cleaned up what was legally mine now.

    Old. I wasn’t in school and my father bought the late matriarch’s house of a family in my hometown. Front and back sheds, attic, and basement were crammed. The family asked if they could leave the stuff there for a bit while they settled things. Time passed. I started school, it was a year. My father started asking the family to come get the stuff. Oh just a little bit longer. A good third of the house was unusable by us and half of dad’s mortgage was to fix the stuff that needed to be brought up to code (you couldn’t walk through the house with a candle, it’d blow out, it had tube and knob wiring, and a LOT more) and he couldn’t even get to some of it, because. Dad finally had papers served to the one family member that they had had a year, the stuff was there, in two weeks we were clearing the house.
    Dad borrowed a grain truck. We went through EVERYTHING in case there were photo albums or anything that was truly a family heirloom. We got over 30 years of old farming records, at least 12 years old or older, no legal deeds or anything; and some very rotted and moused clothes from the 30’s through the 50’s, and tons of old newspapers and magazine also mouse damaged. We filled that truck twice.
    The things I remember of ‘value’ was a broken violin in bad shape stamped inside ‘copy of stradivarius’ a 1950’s comic book (later looked, currently worth about $30), a mangler press, a velvet covered autograph book with signatures from the 1890’s, and a piece off a rotted dress of a sequin outlined flower about the size of the palm of your hand. And two old jewelry boxes, one 1920’s worth about $50 now and a really beat up chest looking one from about same era worth about $10. An ‘original’ 1946 Sears and Roebuck catalog (they started selling reprints of that one some time ago. Out of all that stuff. Someone had apparently removed the photos as we didn’t find a single one.
    Four years later, or three after the legal letter about the clearing out, they sent their daughter who was so picked off that she had to go find a third grader AND talk to her, and asked me about the stuff. Stuff, what stuff? The stuff in the house.
    I go home and repeat this to my father. He get copies of the papers made and gives me the envelope to give to her to give her father. They have a major coronary and can’t bring it into court because we had given them due warning and had given them a full year to get their stuff.
    Update, two years ago daughter sent legal stuff to me to sue for the stuff tossed out nearly 50 years ago. I gave a deposition at my county courthouse of what I remember us finding and the two ugly long days when we went through all that mousy moldy dusty stuff, plus the legal papers sent them about clearing it out. They’d sold the house to us, we thought a year was enough time to claim it. Plus the fellow sending his daughter to ask ME about it instead of asking my father whom he seen frequently. No furs, no great works of art, no bonds or stocks or antiques or jewelry. Junk. I said the old beat up jewelry chest might still exist, that was it. If it did. I hadn’t seen it in 35 years. Haven’t heard anything since.

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