A recent submission about unwanted houseguests overstaying their welcome and mooching from their host had me commenting about a close friend who I refused to let stay with me. I thought an example or two of his behavior might make a good Etiquette Hell submission.
One Saturday my friend showed up at my house shortly after lunch time so I could do some work on his car (as we had previously agreed). I did not realize that he had custody of his two young daughters that weekend. The kids played in the yard while I worked on the car but after an hour or two they came up to us and said, “Daddy, we’re hungry! Can we get something to eat?”, to which my friend replied, “Uncle Rob is working on my car, we can get McDonald’s when he is done”.
Realizing I had at least an hour more of work to do I told him there was bread and cold cuts in the kitchen and to feel free to make himself and the kids lunch. As I was finishing he and the kids came back out. He thanked me and drove away.
When I went in the house I found three dirty plates and three half-drunk glasses of milk on the kitchen table along with crumbs on the table and floor. The open bag of bread was sitting on the counter along with more crumbs and the open bags of cold cuts and cheese. He couldn’t even be bothered to put the refrigerated cold cuts back in the fridge when he was done.
I said in my comment that I never let him stay with me. That’s not completely true. One night he showed up drunk (I have a breathalyzer – he blew a 0.40). I gave him the option of sleeping in his car or my taking him to a local cheap hotel and getting him a room for the night. He opted to sleep in his car.
Five minutes after he went outside his car backed out of my driveway. I called him on his cell and told him if he did not turn around this second I was calling the police. When he came back I took him to my spare room and told him I was taking him to an AA meeting the next morning whether he wanted to go or not. The next morning while I was making breakfast he disappeared without a word and his car was gone from my driveway when I looked outside.
I called him and told him that if he ever showed up at my door drunk again I would be calling the police. He never did that again.
I could write a small book about all the horror stories his friends and family told me but I think this suffices to give you an idea. 1108-12
One of our hard and fast rules for using other people’s belongings or hospitality is that you leave it better than you found it…to the best of your ability. That means no evidence of lunch having been prepared and eaten in the kitchen, and you clean up the host’s dirty dishes to boot. If you borrowed something and broke it, you fixed it and made it as a good as you found it.
I believe mooching and freeloading starts as a bad habit that continues to perpetuate because people lack a spine to put a stop to being used by moochers. Once ingrained as a way of life, it is a hard lifestyle to change until forced through necessity to do so.