I live in small community in a rural area with my husband and 2 teenage daughters. Today I was working from home in the kitchen and my husband was also at home, exercising in the living room, when I heard another voice and conversation begin. At first I thought the kids had gotten home from school, when I realized it was an hour early and by then I had realized it was a male voice, not female. It was my brother-in-law! My husband’s brother works just a mile from our home so I guess he decided to stop by after he got off of work. But who just walks into someone else’s house without knocking first? Well, I’ll tell you who… my mother and at least one of my daughter’s teenage friends, that’s who. I am flabbergasted at how many people have walked right into my house without knocking! My mother always used to knock, in fact, call first. But then she moved much, much closer – within walking distance – so now drops by and sometimes knocks or sometimes doesn’t. Besides being rude, aren’t these people even the least bit leery of what they might be walking in on, unannounced? Do I just keep my door locked from now on? It seems like a drastic step to have to take, or is it? Maybe in this day and age one’s door should always be locked anyway? 0221-14
Having an open, hospitable house where friends and family have been encouraged to “feel at home” comes with some unspoken caveats. Unannounced visitors should be able to detect that you both are in the middle of an activity that is preoccupying your attention and cannot entertain them and that is when they should make a graceful exit. I work from home myself and there are countless times where I have take command of the conversation and inform the visitor that I must get back to work. I’m sure there are times when I appear to be very business-like in my demeanor but I haven’t invited them to come when I’m available to talk and they are interrupting my work.
I’ve had family walk in the house while a serious discussion was in progress that we had no intention of making them a part of the conversation. Very basic pleasantries are exchanged but the non-verbal signal is unmistakeable (or at least we think it is) that we were in the middle of something and we are not prepared to suspend it or include the visitor in it. My husband and I just sit there saying nothing waiting for the person to get the clue to leave. On occasion you have to be blunt….”I’m sorry but we are engaged in a private discussion that has not reached a conclusion yet and therefore we are not available to talk with you.” Yes, it is awkward and potentially tense but they walked right into it and you are helping them walk right back out of it.
However, we lock and deadbolt the doors when in a frisky mood lest any of the immediate family just happen to saunter in unannounced.