The Christmas Guests That Never Leave

by admin on December 8, 2010

This is about my husband’s brother and sister-in-law.  Just as I think they couldn’t possibly be as bad as I think they are and I am simply being uncharitable, something else comes up which reaffirms my view of them.

They live in a small town about 2 hours away, and we live in a larger city, so they enjoy coming here for shopping, baseball games, etc. but they treat us like we are a free hotel.  My first real experience with them was just after we moved into our house.  Like literally 3 days after we moved in.  They moved in with us, or so it felt at the time. They came over on Friday and spent the night, which was fine, their plan was to spend one night with us and then go to a hotel for the next night or two. We all went to the mall on Saturday and next thing I know, DH is saying,  “They spent all their motel money and want to know if it’s OK if they stay with us again tonite.” What was I supposed to say? Then my BIL found out he didn’t have to work on Monday so they invited themselves to stay Sunday night as well. It just went on and on and on, kinda like the Titanic song except without the Uillean pipes. Having people around kinda stresses me out, especially when we were still living out of boxes.

What’s next?  Must be this past summer, when they asked us to watch their 4-year-old daughter so they could go to a baseball game. We took her to Chuck E. Cheese and had a great time. But the next day they didn’t leave…again. I ended up entertaining our niece while they played games on our computers.  It was finally about 9pm on Sunday night when DH had to go to his brother and basically kick them out. I think they were hoping we’d just give up and let them stay again or something. That’s the night they left the gate open (twice) and our dog got out and nearly got hit by a car (twice).

This past Christmas, we hosted my mom, sister & BIL for Christmas day dinner and we were planning to go visit DH’s parents the following day.  His parents live in the same town as DH’s brother and SIL, who were catching a redeye flight on Christmas night to visit her parents for a week.  DH’s brother & SIL had arranged to come to our house Christmas night so my husband could drive them to the airport.  Fine, no biggie, we just asked them to come down later in the evening so we had plenty of time with my family.  About 4pm, as we were sitting down to open presents, the phone rings and it’s my SIL.  They had already left home and were on their way, and oh by the way, could we watch their dog while they’re gone?  I repeat, they had ALREADY LEFT.  I thought of several answers, none of which I wanted my own family to hear, so I handed the phone to my DH (who really is a dear, and in general a much more patient person than I).  He reminded them that we were coming to their town the following day, and when she argued back, DH pointed out that our male dog was not fixed and he didn’t want to take the chance of unplanned puppies.  She responded with, “But our dog’s not in heat!”  I’m not sure what he said to finally convince her, but they ended up turning around and taking the dog back to stay with someone during their absence.

Rumor has it that BIL & SIL are moving to Virginia soon.  I’ll miss our niece.  :) 0428-10

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexis December 8, 2010 at 8:55 am

No one can take advantage of you without your permission. Practice the word ‘no’ until you can mean it when you say it.

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bookworm December 8, 2010 at 9:15 am

Looks like you’ve already set a precedent with your BIL and his wife. Break it, NOW, before they get their claws in any deeper.

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MetalRose December 8, 2010 at 9:32 am

Yikes! I hate guests like that. I’d tell them next time BEFORE that you have someplace to be. When they show up, polietly inform them you have other plans and leave. Even if you are just going to the gas station to fill up your car.

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DGS December 8, 2010 at 9:56 am

Gently but firmly, start practicing saying ‘no’ to them, so that they can quit taking advantage of your family’s hospitality and generosity.

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Lizajane December 8, 2010 at 9:57 am

Actually, DH did stop the madness when he said no to keeping the dog. Good for him and good for the OP for handing it over to him.

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Louise December 8, 2010 at 9:57 am

“It just went on and on and on, kinda like the Titanic song except without the Uillean pipes.”

That made me laugh!

OP, your brother and SIL know just what to do to put you in a tight spot and make you feel you can’t say no. Trust me, they set out on Christmas with their dog so they could use the excuse, “But we’re already on the road!” You were supposed to cave in. But you can always say no. If they suffer somehow or get embarrassed or inconvenienced, remember, they brought it on themselves by trying to take advantage of you, not by you denying them. They will think you’re the meanest person ever and you should do what they want because they’re faaaaaaamily, but boundaries are necessary for our sanity.

I’m glad your husband is comfortable kicking them out and turning them away. That’s something.

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Just Laura December 8, 2010 at 10:04 am

I know people on here are going to keep telling the OP it’s her own fault that she hasn’t been saying “no.” These people have never dealt with those odd sorts who will actually believe that being told “no” by family/friends is wrong. Then they will bad-mouth the people who refuse to be stepped on to everyone who will listen. “My brother’s wife is so rude; she never wants to spend time with her niece and refuses to help us with even the smallest things. She’s so controlling and uncaring.” Soon people are thinking all manner of unkind things about your “selfish” and “inflexible” behavior.

We have a friend who lives about an hour away. On weekends, he would ask to spend one of the nights with us. This was fine – why make him drive so far at night? Then it became two nights. Then he’d just show up (no call/text/IM) any ol’ time and play our video games, drink our beverages, eat our food… We started wearing bathrobes so he’d get the hint that we weren’t available. Instead, he showed up on a Sunday morning at 11am, and when my fiance answered the door in a bathrobe, the guy said, “Oh, maybe I should have called. Do I have to leave?” Fiance sighed loudly and said, “I can’t make you drive an hour back home.” And he promptly stayed all day until we asked him to leave so we could watch a movie.
Finally we started saying we were unavailable due to family stuff, work, etc. On the positive side, he stopped randomly showing up. On the other side, he told several friends that I’m “ruining” my fiance by not letting him hang out with his friend (not true), and that my fiance “forgets who his real friends are” by not being a kind host and “letting them come over” (also not true – people just aren’t allowed to stay for more than one night).
There are people who, for some reason, feel entitled and I’m afraid the OP has found two of them. Telling them “no” should make the problem go away, but with Entitled People, they just get angry and think YOU are the rude one.

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BeachMum December 8, 2010 at 10:07 am

I run a vacation rental. My worst guests are my SIL and her family. Last year, they broke the screen door and managed to get sand all over the mattresses. This year, they managed to stain two of the pillow cases to the point where they needed to be replaced.

All you can do is sigh heavily and say, “Family.” If I had my druthers, they wouldn’t come and stay with us. However, they live far away and only come once a year.

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Xtina December 8, 2010 at 10:08 am

A few cases of rudeness mixed with general cluelessness, it seems. They probably just think “it’s family and therefore no explanation or forethought is needed”. Not sure why some people think this is OK. However, the “oh, keep our dog” thing was pretty bad, though–that seemed planned for sure.

We had a relative who called my parents one day out of the blue and said they were “bringing the horses and we’re on the road now”. My grandfather had died and my relatives were going to continue to live on his farm. I guess they decided they didn’t want to keep two of my grandfather’s horses, and just planned on dropping them off at my parents’ house (we have horses, so this is not a complete disaster or surprise, but adding two more to care for unexpectedly is not without its problems!) for us to keep, claiming that they “thought we wanted them”. We did end up keeping the horses because they had nowhere else to go, but the relationship with the relatives was never the same.

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Skoffin December 8, 2010 at 10:15 am

Gaaaaaaaah these stories are entertaining, yet make me want to pull my hair out as the same time.

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Bint December 8, 2010 at 10:47 am

I don’t understand the ‘practice no’ comments. The OP HAS said no – she’s said it twice now successfully, after being stung the first time.

Keep it up, OP!

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samihami December 8, 2010 at 10:54 am

Yup. Time to grow a set and tell them, politely of course-“NO” when they make demands on you that you would prefer to not fulfill.

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Patti Purcell December 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

Wow, Some people just expect to much. But finally your husband said No. I honestly would not have let anyone stay with me as we just moved In, but would have firmly said, the hotel is such and such. Please don’t let them tell you what to do.

Happy Holidays
Patti Purcell

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Vicki December 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

I feel your pain, OP. I feel your pain.
You handled the dog situation very well. You turned it over to your husband, it is his family after all, and he said no and kept saying it in many different ways until FINALLY the message was understood.
Take a few moments with DH and decide what limits you want to have, and stick to those limits. It isn’t easy when you are dealing with people who are clueless as to other peoples boundaries, but it is worth the effort.
Try not to show any weakness… folks like your BIL and SIL are like sharks… they can smell it miles away.

I hope you and your DH have a great Christmas, “relatively” speaking! *c*

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Gloria Shiner December 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

Seems to me this is one of those “get a spine” situations. These people live two hours away, not across the country! Just say no.

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SHOEGAL December 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

No should mean no – but this really isn’t that simple. It is family and you want your family to always feel welcome in your home & frankly, it is difficult to tell them that they aren’t wanted and have outstayed their welcome without damaging the relationship. It is also very difficult when put on the spot to think of a carefully worded response to requests to stay over & so forth. This makes it necessary to think of these responses ahead of time. “We aren’t prepared at this time to accomodate guests.” I believe you actually don’t need to fabricate a reason why but if pressed further it is then time to repeat this again and perhaps say you don’t wish to elaborate. How do you kick out guests who don’t want to leave without being rude?? I’d really like to hear how you do this tactfully.

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Elizabeth December 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I would have had a discussion with them the moment they “spent all their motel money”, because that just seems fishy to me.

I have been in a similar situation, but not quite the same. My DH and I live in a different state than our families, which is nice because we like our space. Our current residence is less than an hour away from my mother’s boyfriend. She likes being able to visit us whenever she comes to see her boyfriend, and we like not being the main focus of the visit. One visit over the summer she brought my youngest brother along so he could visit with DH and I while she was with her boyfriend. Since she normally stays with her boyfriend, we offered my brother to stay with us. The trip went from being half a week to being a two week visit. Most of the trip we really didn’t see her, which left us in charge of keeping my brother occupied and covering his costs. I wasn’t mad at my brother, mostly because he was just as upset of the extended visit. He was under 18 at the time, so he didn’t have his own income. Plus, we had only been in our new place a month or so and really weren’t prepared for an extended visit like this. I tried to confront my mother, and she wouldn’t budge. We tried threatening that my brother couldn’t stay any longer with us, and she called our bluff. (Neither my husband nor I wanted my brother staying at mom’s boyfriend’s. They are a little way too into PDA and my brother doesn’t always get along with the boyfriend.) In the end, we made it through it. My mother, though, is not allowed to stay at our place when she decides to extend her visits. And my brother hasn’t visited since, but makes my mother very aware of why when she offers.

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Shiksagoddess December 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Things must be far too comfortable for these leeches. You’ve practiced sayng “no.” Keep up the good work. Remember, “no. It’s a sentence.”

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SJ December 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Well done on the part of the husband. It’s hard to be firm with in-laws, and I think he took responsibility well, since it was his family. I imagine you would have done if your family was being pushy and making him uncomfortable.

I love the last line, “I’ll miss our niece.”

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The Cat Whisperer December 8, 2010 at 12:55 pm

What Alexis said. People can’t use you as a doormat unless you agree to lie down and let them wipe their feet on you.

I live in Southern California near a lot of tourist attractions, and this has caused some friends and family to get the idea that they could use us as a free hotel service for vacations and that they got to call the shots about what they could do while staying with us. I can’t live that way, so I put my foot down and some rules got put into place.

Rule 1: If you didn’t give us at least 90 days notice of your desire to stay with us, forget about it! The answer will be “no.” No exceptions.

Rule 2: Length of stay is negotiated before you get here. Once it is negotiated, it is not subject to extension. If you want to stay longer, you go to a hotel or motel or stay with someone else. No exceptions.

Rule 3: Number of guests has to be stated at time of request. If you surprise us by showing up with additional people in your party, we do not accomodate the extras. If you change the number in your party after you’ve made your request to stay with us, we may accomodate you, but we may also tell you we can’t accomodate you. Also, we do not allow people to bring their own pets because we don’t have facilities to keep them separate from our animals. No exceptions.

Rule 4: We have cats and a dog. They are family members. We do not lock them up, or put them out of the house, or restrict where they can go, to accomodate visitors. If you don’t like our animals, then don’t visit us. We also require that guests make sure that they don’t let our animals out of the house or yard. Carelessness in this regard is not acceptable: if you let the cats out or the dog out, you will be asked to leave immediately. No exceptions. And you are not allowed to “discipline” my animals. If you try to discipline them, you will be asked to leave immediately.

Rule 5: We are not a car rental agency. We are not a taxi company. You cannot use any of our cars, and we will not drive you around. If you want to go someplace, get a rental car or use public transportation.

Rule 6: This is MY home. I don’t care what you do in your home, this is MY home. My rules apply. You know that before you come here, and if you have a problem with that, don’t come here.

Rule 7: If you expect us to feed you, then you eat what and when we eat. If that’s a problem for you (e.g., you need coffee and we don’t drink coffee, or you have special dietary needs or religious/philosophical restrictions about diet), then I will work with you to help you solve the problem if I am told about it in advance, and I will tell you what I am willing to do to help you. If that isn’t enough, then don’t expect me to feed you, make your own arrangements. And if you don’t tell me about special dietary needs in advance, then you’re on your own. I will not run around like a chicken with my head cut off because you sprang your requirements on me after you got here.

Rule 8: Reasonable standards for civility apply. That includes civility in dress, language, and interactions with others. That means, at its most basic, that everyone wears clothes at all times, nobody uses profane, scatological, derogatory or insulting language, and all interactions are courteous and civil. That’s how I expect to behave towards my guests, and that’s how I expect them to behave towards me.

These rules work for me. Yes, some people have gotten upset, but these aren’t people I would want staying with me anyway.

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Kat December 8, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I think you’re handling this situation fine. I agree with what some people are saying that family members don’t always hear “no.” You’ve been sticking to your guns and maintaining your boundaries. Well played, OP.

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Wink-n-Smile December 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

One time, my parents and I gave a ride to a young man. We were driving ACROSS THE BORDER. After driving 4 hours, we reached the border, at which point he said, “My mom packed my bag. I hope she remembered my passport.”

Well, 4 hours later, we’re back at his house to pick up his passport, and then drive 4 hours AGAIN, to get to the border, and then on our way to our destination.

It was not the end of the world, nor did it destroy our friendship with the young man or his family. We facepalmed, and then sucked it up, because we loved the people, otherwise.

What’s my point, you ask? Next time you get the “but we’re already on the road” excuse, tell them it’s not the end of the world, and they’ll simply be late to their destination, because they have to turn around and go back. If they don’t like that, well, there are kennels. . .

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Wink-n-Smile December 8, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Elizabeth – I’m with you on the talking to about “spent all their motel money.” They’re TWO HOURS AWAY from home. No motel money needed. Bye, bye, and hope you enjoy your extra purchases.

And you know what? If you get tired on the road, there are rest-stops where you can lean back in your car’s seating and sleep until you’re safe to drive again. No motel needed. Bye, bye.

The thing is, you have to start out tough. You can loosen up later, if they behave, but you have to start tough. That’s REALLY hard to do with family, because that means being born tough. But for in-laws, well, you have an advantage, if you take it right from the get-go. And I wouldn’t even mind if my husband blamed me for it, to their faces, as long as he didn’t blame me for it in the bedroom or make me put up with unwanted guests. It takes a special kind of strength to allow yourself to appear weak to others. “Wow, she really has you whipped, man! She won’t let you do ANYTHING!” Better to blame her, but stick to your guns than seem “strong” and “in charge,” and give in to THEIR demands to prove that you can boss her.

I LIKE having guests, but only on my own terms. That’s why I never babysit my nephews and nieces. I “borrow” the kids for fun times, and bring them home when I’m done. The better they behave, the longer I last. And when they’re older, and want to visit, they’ll already be trained to wait for an invitation, and behave when they are here. And they don’t think the less of me for it. They respect my privacy, and they love coming to visit, because it’s always a treat.

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Skoffin December 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm

The Cat Whisperer, I think you’re visitation rules are brilliant :D

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Agent M December 8, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Completely agree with Just Laura! I have a SIL that behaves the exact same way and by telling her “No” I have been badmouthed by her to the rest of the family.

The reason why I tell her no? She wants me to babysit her 18 month old so that she and her hubby can go to the bar and hang out with their friends. I’m a single mom (DH is on deployment) with a 3 year old and I work full-time. So she tells MIL (her mom) that I’m refusing to help her. MIL even went so far as to call and lecture me on the importance of helping family members!

Me: “Uh… did she tell you why I said no?”
MIL: “She wants to spend time with her friends! She needs a break!”

And I don’t? My SIL is the founder of Entitled People!

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LovleAnjel December 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I shamefully admit I was once a person who stayed over too many times at a friend’s apartment, and they were too nice to tell me they were tired of having me over. I was totally clueless about how much they felt imposed upon. I made a comment about “maybe I should leave my towel here so I don’t have to keep packing it”, which was followed by an uncomfortable silence. I got the message. I still feel really embarrassed about it.

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JS December 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Just Laura, Shoegal and Agent M: when you decide to say “no” to rude people, you also have to decide not to care how they retaliate. Yes, they may badmouth you, they may try to turn family members against you, and they may try to press you about “why” to change your “no” into a “yes.” But just because they try to pull that off doesn’t mean you have to let it get to you.

“We’re on our way over, can we stay for the weekend?” “No, I’m sorry, that won’t be possible.” “But why not? We’re already on our way!” “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible.” “But WHY won’t it be possible.” “Because it’s not possible. Would you like a list of local hotels?” If they are getting uncomfortable with the repetition, and with your refusal to provide your justifications, then good: they should be uncomfortable, because they are being rude. Sometimes, standing up for yourself will make people uncomfortable. If you’re looking for a magic response that will make everyone happy, you’re not going to find it.

“SIL says you won’t babysit her daughter for free every day! Why can’t you help her out?” “Well, MIL, [Insert summary of reasons, or just a statement that you've already discussed this with her]. ” “But she really needs your help!” “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

Look, you can’t make people like you, and if you’re only comfortable when everyone is completely happy with you, you’re going to be uncomfortable for a long, long time. You can either have universal, constant popularity or you can avoid being treated like a doormat. You can’t have both.

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AMC December 8, 2010 at 4:34 pm

The dog thing reminds me of my sister’s former roommate. He has the sweetest little dog, but really has no place owning a pet at all. The boy is perpetually on vacation and travels all the time. We honestly have no idea how he gets money since he never works. And he will either leave the poor thing locked in crate all day or will hand him off to someone else, my sister in particular. Mind you, he never really asks. He leaves and then calls her up to say “Hey, I’m going to Florida. Watch Fluffy for me.” He still does it even now that my sister no longer lives under the same roof. This past Thanksgiving, he “asked” my sister to watch the dog the day before the holiday. She agreed because he’s a sweet puppy, but made it clear that she had plans the next day to travel to our grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, so he would have to pick the dog up in the morning.
The next morning comes and goes with no show or call from the guy, and my sis and her bf ended up having to bring Fluffy to Thanksgiving. Like I said, he’s a sweet puppy and our family sees him so often, he’s like one of our own dogs. But Grandma is not a huge fan of indoor pets, and fluffy couldn’t be kept outside because of the frigid temperatures. So we spent Thanksgiving taking turns watching Fluffy so he wouldn’t get on the furniture or into the food. The boy didn’t have a good excuse for not picking up the dog. Just that he had decided to stay longer at wherever he was.

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NyxErebus December 8, 2010 at 4:47 pm

@ Agent M – wow, your MIL’s answer is truly baffling O_o So her own daughter needs a break to hang out with friends because taking care of her own spawn with her husband is hard work….yet you, who is practically a single mother while your husband is deployed and working full time on top of having your own child to look after, should be imposed upon to give up whatever free time you have to indulge this whiny brat of a SIL? Entitled much?

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PrincessSimmi December 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Move to a smaller house and then say you have no space for guests. Or, have another child and re-decorate the guest room as the baby’s room and say you have no space.

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PrincessSimmi December 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I’ve got a better one. Buy a small house with a really large back yard. Tell them they are welcome to pitch a tent in your yard for the duration of their stay as there is no space in the house, however they will need to hire a port-a-potty as you lock the doors at night due to the crime rate. Guaranteed they’ll never stay with you again.

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Kat December 8, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Agent M – helping out family IS important! Maybe your SIL’s mother should take care of her grandchild to give her daughter this much-needed break??? :-p

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Kriss December 8, 2010 at 7:22 pm

My brother and sister used to walk all over me all the time. I’m the baby in the family and they saw me that way well into my 20’s. At one point I was watching my sister’s son for 11 hours a day at 10 dollars a day right after having my first son. It was like having twins and every time I made noises about feeling depressed or overwhelmed she gave me the single mom excuse. My brother twisted my arm into watching his daughters for free during the summer. Not even money for food or gas to drive them back and forth. Since we were really tight on cash (two kids of our own by that time) my mother suggested feeding them all ramen. I might as well have handed them a bag of cheetos as far as nutrition goes. I really started to dislike my family and resent their kids. It wasn’t fair to anyone involved (except of course my brother and sister).

I’m so very happy I found my spine. They would strong arm me by constantly asking me why. Making me explain myself. I just tell them now that “That isn’t possible right now” and repeat that until they get bored of hearing me.

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Cooler Becky December 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Hm. I’m glad my family has a central “government”. It saves time on the drama (though it does bring out different sorts of drama later).

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Just Laura December 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Princess Simmi – Interestingly enough, your “buy a smaller house” suggestion is exactly one of the reasons I bought a tiny two-seater car: I was tired of taking people to the airport. Tough to drive people to the airport when there’s no back seat and no trunk!

JS – it’s not a matter of “I hope everyone adores me”; rather, I’ve only been here a year, and people know each other better than they know me. I’m afraid that if someone tells my new friends that I’m “rude” or “mean” or “controlling” (you get the idea), that they may begin to wonder. Certainly with a long time friend there is no concern – they know what kind of person I am. But you must admit there are Entitled People with a strange view of the world who firmly believe if you feel put out by them, then something must be wrong with YOU.
Have you ever been to http://notalwaysright.com/?
That site is full of those people.

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Kay December 8, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Sorry, I’ve read the last paragraph three times and I must be missing something. Brother and SIL had arranged to go to their house Christmas night, which was fine, but when they’re on their way on Christmas at 4pm, it’s appalling that they ALREADY LEFT? Wasn’t that the plan? I don’t know what I’m missing.

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Louise December 9, 2010 at 12:09 am

@Kay

My interpretation is that the brother and SIL were supposed to get there well after 6 p.m., which is at what time they would arrive if they left at 4. To me “Christmas night” and “later in the evening” mean maybe 9 p.m., or at least well after dinner.

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Just Laura December 9, 2010 at 12:26 am

Kay,
The OP is appalled that these people left without first making sure their animal had a caregiver. She is further appalled that they called while on-the-road, even though there was no one to watch the dog. Very irresponsible pet owners.

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Asha December 9, 2010 at 1:22 am

This is why I refuse, on principle, to date/get married/have children. Ever. People like this just seem to have horrible lives and I wonder why anyone would voluntarily subject themselves to that kind of abuse. I’ll be happy alone in my own little house without all that unnecessary bull.

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Fox December 9, 2010 at 1:50 am

Kay: The OP was (rightly) horrified that they were calling to ask if she could watch their dog after they’d already left, meaning the dog was in the car with them, so they either Judy blindly assumed the answer was yes or decided to “force” it on them with discomfort and guilt at the thought of inconveniencing them. A normal person asks someone to watch their pet well in advance (especially when you have an unspayed female and they have an uncut male!). This couple was being at best presumptive and thoughtless in bringing the fog then asking on the way, and at worst they were being rude and manipulative. So no, they weren’t following “the plan” because they set out on their four hour journey intending to spring a huge “favor” on their hosts at a time when they thought they’d be least likely to say no. Rude, rude, rude.

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Fox December 9, 2010 at 1:52 am

Ah, got to love the iPhone’s autocorrections. Judy = just and fog = dog. XD

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Lynne December 9, 2010 at 2:49 am

Kay,

The issue wasn’t that they were on their way, at the time they had agreed upon.

The issue was that without any prior warning, they informed the OP that they were bringing their dog over to the OP’s house with them, and were expecting the OP to take care off the dog, while they flew away to wherever.

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Lynne December 9, 2010 at 2:51 am

(continued) And, because they were already ON THEIR WAY, *with* the dog, it increased the pressure: they were either assuming that the OP would say “yes”, or creating conditions so that it would be more difficult to say no.

They weren’t really offering a choice when they “asked” them to watch the dog.

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Me December 9, 2010 at 3:32 am

Kay, I think the appalling part was that they called the OP to ask her to dog sit when they’d already left with their dog (ie they presumed her answer and only asked as a courtesy), not the time they left.

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ann December 9, 2010 at 5:14 am

Kay–The plan was for them to come later in the evening. On the road for a two hour trip would get them there at 6pm at the latest, hardly “later in the evening”.

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Stephenie Labovitz December 9, 2010 at 8:49 am

To Kay… It’s not appalling that they had already left in order to get there on time, it was appalling that they didn’t bother to call and ask about the animals until AFTER they’d already left. They deliberately started the journey with the animals before asking if they could bring the animals in order to force the hosts to say yes.

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JS December 9, 2010 at 8:56 am

Just Laura–I know, but you cannot control what others think of you. You really can’t. And if these are people who would be so swayed by second-hand gossip, they’re not worth your time, anyway.

It all comes down to the balancing test: Are your boundaries worth other people potentially being mislead by this kind of gossip? If they are, then you accept that not everyone will like you for your decisions and, oh well, pass the beer nuts. If they aren’t, then you give up on your boundaries and hope that those same people aren’t being fed malicious gossip that you’re a doormat, or a bad dresser, or whatever other weird and baseless form gossip can take. But there’s no magic procedure to both maintain your boundaries and guarantee that no one will hear or be persuaded by malicious gossip about you. It doesn’t exist, sadly.

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Wink-n-Smile December 9, 2010 at 11:04 am

Kay, for the same reason it was insufferably rude for my family member to call and say, “Hi! I’m on my way to your place! We’ll be there for a week. You can get off work to take us to the amusement park, right?” I was a child at the time, and my parents groused about it. Fortunately, they WERE able to get the time, and we love the amusement park, as well as our family. However, it was still darned rude to put us on the spot like that, and my parents groused quite a bit, making it clear to us children that we should NEVER show up uninvited.

Years later, my sister-in-law asked why we never just drop in for a visit. After all, we’re family! And we live just down the street! Of course we’d be welcome. “Yes, I know we’d be welcome, but would it be convenient? What if you’re” wink, wink, nudge, nudge, “busy?”

The OP did not agree to keep the dog before they left, but the “guests” were presenting the OP with another guest, uninvited, unexpected, and completely inconvenient, and using the “but we already left” excuse to force the issue. “Oh, but you wouldn’t make us turn around and go back now, would you?”

Yeppers, sure would.

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Bint December 9, 2010 at 11:06 am

“This is why I refuse, on principle, to date/get married/have children. Ever. People like this just seem to have horrible lives and I wonder why anyone would voluntarily subject themselves to that kind of abuse.”

Many of us in these categories have pretty brilliant lives, actually – most people aren’t that awful, which is why the stories here go up – they’re outrageous. Notice how the OP is rejecting the etiquette abuse too, as helped by this site. Once you’re used to saying no = no abuse. Ta-dah!

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Kat December 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Asha – not judging your choice or anything, but I agree with Bint. It’s totally possible to have a happy and fulfilling relationship or marriage. They just, y’know, don’t get written up on etiquette websites :-)

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