We lived in a city where there are serious water shortages for extended periods of time. Our family has an underground water reservoir we keep and maintain. During one such period of water shortage, our neighbor from across the street comes over and asks my mother if he could have some water. She replied with “of course” and went inside the house to get a hose to use to get the water out of our reservoir. She comes out of the house to find that he’s put in his own hose–with a diameter that was five, six times the diameter of a regular hose straight into the reservoir, across the street, and onto his car! The guy didn’t need water for drinking or cooking or washing, he used our reservoir water to wash his car during a drought! My mom yelled at him, told him to get out, and he never came over to request water from us again. 0914-11
Given that parts of the US have been experiencing droughts in the past few years, there should be a more defined and understood etiquette regarding water usage, asking for water, etc. Governments enact laws to govern the use of municipality-provided water and of course, one should obey the law but when it comes to private water, i.e. wells, cisterns and the like, how does etiquette address the issues of others wanting what you have?
No one should ever presume that they are entitled to something someone else owns. So, at least the neighbor in this story does ask permission to access the private reservoir. Problem is, he doesn’t bother saying why he needs it and poor Mom assumes anyone asking for water must have a dire personal need for it. Which leads to the second etiquette rule…
If you need water, ask for what you truly need to live on. Washing a car, watering ornamental plants are far lower on a priority list due to being extravagant uses of a limited commodity. Water to drink, flush toilets, bathe, cook with…those are legitimate needs. A long, hot shower is not.
If you are asked for water, give generously to those in need. People can go without food for a long time but only three days without water. Ignore those who cannot seem to prioritize their needs in an appropriate manner and expect you to continue maintaining their lifestyle choices.