First of all, allow me to gush about this wonderful site and community; I’ve been reading for nearly 10 years, and have found the stories and advice to be a wonderful source of entertainment and guidance. Now, for the first time ever, I am submitting my own tale so that others may laugh and learn as I have:
First a little bit of background: I am a woman in her 20s living in a major US city. At the time of this story, I was sharing a lovely 3 bedroom apartment with my best friend, who I’ll call Will, and our roommate/friend, who I’ll call Kristie. We all know each other from school and had a really nice time living together, with, of course, the exception of this story. /BG
For Thanksgiving last year, all three of us had decided to stay in the city and make our own holiday dinner. Kristie’s then close friend, and our fellow schoolmate Rachel decided that instead of spending the day with family she wanted to come and spend the holiday with Kristie in the city (so by transitive, us). Rachel was somewhat notorious for having trouble keeping friends and has a bit of a domineering personality, but I’m not easily stepped on and had never personally had any run-ins with her so pleasantries were not a problem, particularly given the holiday. Since she was Kristie’s close friend, she said she would have Rachel stay in her room and keep her occupied for the weekend (her words, not mine!). I was a little nervous hosting Thanksgiving for the first time ever, particularly since I had to go into work for a few hours that day, but had happened upon a catering deal that would allow us to order our favorites, have them delivered to our home, and then serve them with minimal prep. I was excited because when split four ways, this meal was going to be both affordable and substantial. I had Kristie double check with Rachel to make sure she was on board, at which time she informed her that she had recently discovered that she had some food allergies, dairy and gluten to name a few. Having a childhood friend with similar dietary issues, I was sympathetic, and we re-visited our meal selections and swapped some of our original choices out for items she would be able to enjoy. I even put in an order at a local vegan cafe for a gluten-free dessert that she would be able to enjoy. We also decided that it would be okay if Rachel paid a little less than the rest of us since she wasn’t free to enjoy everything that we ordered. We set a rate for her and a rate for us and everyone seemed to be in agreement.
Rachel arrived two days before Thanksgiving and said that she would feel cramped in Kristie’s room and would prefer to stay in the living/dining room. Due to the layout of our apartment, having guests sleep in the living/dining room reallllly wasn’t my favorite, mostly because of the fact that it made it difficult to use the room for its actual purpose (since it’s busy being a bedroom) and the proximity to our kitchenette and front door often lead to disturbing whomever was sleeping there if someone had to get up early. From what I could tell, no one else minded and it was only for a few nights. This, coupled with the fact that I didn’t want to be inhospitable and make her sleep somewhere she didn’t feel comfortable made me decide to hold my tongue and let her set up shop. The next morning I got up to go to work, woke her up with a grumble while making breakfast (sigh), and was on my way. When I returned later in the day, everyone had left and I was none-too-pleased to discover that my living room was still very much a bedroom. She had removed all of the couch cushions and strewn them on the floor (fine while sleeping, but I’d like to have them put back in the waking hours). Clothes, makeup, and shoes were strewn on every chair and table. She had even moved the couch so that it was closer to an electrical outlet so that she could charge her phone and set it on the couch (I have side tables that would have done the job just fine). The worst part for me was that she had hung her wet shower towel over one of my newly finished wooden dining room chairs. Now, in cases where I am the guest, I try to be a minimal impact kind of person – the saying “You won’t even know I’m here” applies. But I know that’s not everyone and given the impending holiday and Rachel’s personality, I opted to pick my battles and just asked Kristie if she wouldn’t mind “helping Rachel tidy up in the morning.”
Again, I had to work for a few hours on Thanksgiving, so I was nervous about getting everything on the table, but the wonderful Will and fantastic Kristie assured me that the three of them would take care of things. I walk in the door around 4:30 PM, and the living/dining room is thankfully organized. Life in the kitchen was not as fortunate. The scene was a frantic Kristie and Will scrambling to tend to the turkey and multiple hot side dishes, attempting to use the stove top as both a cooking range and a table. But what of the counter? Rachel had commandeered the entire counter top in order to make ONE dish – mashed potatoes that she could eat. She was cutting copious and overpowering amounts of onions and garlic to mask the taste of the dairy substitutions and her work was very spread out. After my assessment, I jumped into action and, peppering my requests with “please” and “thank you” as much as was possible and appropriate, rearranged the kitchen set up to allow more room for other dishes to be prepared and helped finish things up. In short order everything was ready to go so I stepped back and allowed my guest and gracious worker-bee friends first dibs. I am the type of person to eat very little on Thanksgiving morning and skip lunch so that I work up a big appetite for all that the highly anticipated meal has to offer. After I sit down with a full plate, I notice that Kristie and Rachel have both taken barely a sample size of a few things. I brush it off thinking that’s exactly what they were doing; sampling to see what they like. When Will and I pop up for seconds, I see that Kristie and Rachel are again taking next to nothing. I know it’s not my place to comment on how little they’re eating anymore than it is theirs to comment on how much I’m digging in, but as a hostess I asked if everything tasted okay. Kristie meekly replies, “Yeah, I’m just really full.” Rachel nods in agreement and offers, “Yeah, we all had a big lunch about 2 hours ago at a diner. I want to fit in as much as possible while I’m here and I just HAD to go to a diner!” I was flabbergasted. I can understand wanting to make the most of a vacation, but in THAT way on THIS day, which is associated with a big meal?! Kristie was embarrassed (though made her own choice to eat a big lunch) and Will…well, Will’s a bottomless pit, what can I say?
Immediately after dinner, Rachel says that she wants to go and see a friend of hers and Kristie’s who lived in the neighborhood. I ask if they wouldn’t mind helping with clean up first (particularly since my patience is wearing thin and Rachel has helped with no aspect of the meal besides her own at this point). Rachel waves me off and says they’ll be back in an hour or so and will help then. Come 1:00 AM I was tired of waiting and I cleaned up on my own (since Will did most of the cooking).
The next day Kristie is very apologetic about the clean up and makes a show of reimbursing Will and me for the meal to give Rachel the hint. Ultimately, Rachel decided that since she didn’t eat much and had to buy the supplies for her own mashed potatoes that she shouldn’t have to chip in for the meal, a fact which she only shares with Kristie. A once again embarrassed Kristie opts to pay for her friend who thankfully left a day later. Now, I don’t completely excuse Kristie as innocent since she never spoke up and let her friend have her way, but in our eyes Rachel sure managed to trample her way through the holiday and we consider it a lesson learned. 1010-12