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Author Topic: Using guests as free labour.  (Read 54100 times)

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Using guests as free labour.
« on: January 13, 2007, 09:08:09 PM »
This happened 30 years ago but still gets dragged up at family I thought you might enjoy it.

We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with my father's relatives. Keep in mind as I tell this that, due to distance, we always spent more time with my mother's family so I actually was not closely acquainted with my father's relatives. I knew most of them by name only, so my parents thought this was a good opportunity for me to get to know them.

The gathering was being hosted by a cousin of my dad's, let's call him "Bob" and his new wife. I had only met "Bob" once, when I was about five years old. I'll call the wife "Linda."

We get to their beautiful home and everything smells wonderful. However badly Linda behaved later, I have to give her points for her decor and fabulous cooking. They had turkey, ham AND roasted deer meat (this is the South, you know) as well as four different kinds of cakes and pies. A long line of luscious-looking side dishes had been set up on folding tables. Little did I know that I'd get to taste little of it.

I was glad to see my cousin "Kelly" because she was someone I DID know and figured at least I'd have someone to talk to because all the other kids were SMALL kids. Instead, "Linda" corralled both of us, put her arms around us, and told us in an overly sweet, overly slow tone (as if we were tiny children) that she was sooo glad to meet us and we are just soooo cute, and how much she needs us to be her "helpers" and we don't mind that, do we? Big overly lipsticked mouth grinning the whole time.

Not knowing what else to do, we say sure. She puts us to work serving food. When at last all the adults are served, we try to make plates for ourselves, but she says, "Oh, no, my helpers get special seats!" She took us into the game room and seats us at tiny tables (we're in our teens) made for the smallest kids and announces that we're each in charge of a kid's table, and to make sure they behave!!!

The kids are being served macaroni and cheese. There is also a plate of macaroni and cheese in front of my place and Kelly's.

To give my mom credit, she looks incredulous and goes back to the buffet and makes a plate for me. Kelly's mom looks dismayed but does nothing so poor Kelly gets mad and cheese too!!

The kids behave like total brats. I try to keep them quiet, but don't know their names or even which relatives they belong to. Linda comes in and gives us all a stern look, says the adults are being disturbed, and tells Kelly and I to "remember that she trusts us!" in that baby talk voice. Big lipstick smirk again.

The dinner is a nightmare and moms keep coming in and out to tend their wailing brats and give me and Kelly dirty looks. They treat us like their personal babysitters. I can't wait to get out of there, but then Linda comes in with the huge gaping red mouth and tells us in baby talk again that she needs her helpers now! You guessed it. Kelly and I are put to work clearing the table and washing dishes.

My parents thought this was tacky but hang around yakking anyway. It was the longest day of my life. I told my dad I could understand why he spent so little time with his relatives if they were all like that! Fortunately we never spent another holiday with them again.



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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2007, 09:37:19 PM »
Why, oh, why, did your parents let her treat you that way?  Even 30 years ago it wasn't unheard of for parents to stand up for their childrens' dignity.

Good visual on the gaping lipsticked mouth, BTW!  I'll probably have nightmares tonight!


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2007, 11:50:43 PM »
I personally love the typo. "Poor Kelly gets mad and cheese!"

This probably seems funnier right now than it really is.


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2007, 01:12:34 AM »
Shoud have billed the b**ch for services rendered. "Baby-sitting is $4 per hour for each of us for the first child, plus an additional $1 per hour for each extra child. Wait, it's time-and-a-half since it's a National Holiday. Oh wait, we forgot the additional 15% "excessive brattiness" surcharge. Etc., etc. etc." Not very nice, but it's better than "accidently" dropping some of her expensive china while doing dishes or leading the little brats in a chat of "I want the real food! I want to eat with the big people!"

And what the heck is wrong with those parents?
« Last Edit: January 14, 2007, 01:16:17 AM by Asharah »


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2007, 01:34:33 AM »
And what the heck is wrong with those parents?
Actually, those parents sound about like my mother- so afraid of being "rude" that they're doormats. Were I in a situation like that, my parents would behave exactly the same way, except I wouldn't get the buffet plate from my mother because that could possibly be seen as insulting the host's plans for the evening.


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2007, 05:40:28 AM »
My parents wouldn't have stayed for dinner. We would have left as soon as it was clear we kids were getting a b menu. I don't mind multiple tables. My family is so big that they are required. Generally on is in the kitchen or at least not on a carpeted area and any itty bitty kids are seated there in case they drop food or spill something on accident. By the time you are 5 or 6 years old, you are expected to be able to sit and talk to the family like any other member. Little Johnny takes his turn telling about the cool thing that happened at school, Uncle Frank will explain about his engineering project, the teachers will compare latest fad the administrators are buying into, and so on.
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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2007, 01:31:55 PM »
Being #9 out of 13 kids, my  family holiday dinners were HUGE.  The first time I was ever seated at "The kid's Table"   I was 27 years old, married, and it was our first (and last) Thanksgiving at Hubby's  Grandmother's house.   I do ADORE his Grandmother, she is a wonderful woman, but the seating arrangement was done by her 4 adult children, not her.   BTW.. ALL of the adult grandchildren were at the "kiddie table", not just Hubby and me.   The only reason there have not been more family dinners, is that as an Air Force family we don't live close to any relatives.


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2007, 03:30:42 PM »
My mother was grace and class personified...and she'd have ripped Clown Mouth a new one for that performance. Then my father would have gone in hammer and tongs.

Where do some people get the idea that relatives they rarely see are unpaid household staff? Why would anyone give the kids mac and cheese on Thanksgiving when they can see mom and dad and other guests are getting something much more special?

Any way you slice it, Clown Mouth needed a re-education program.


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2007, 04:02:48 PM »
Linda was the main culprit in this story, but all the parents are guilty.  I imagine everybody knew the 2 girls were relatives and not paid babysitters.  The story teller said the other parents seemed annoyed with her and Kelly that they weren't doing their 'jobs' and keeping their children quiet so they could enjoy the meal in peace.  I would think most parents would be a combination of embarrassed, apologetic, and thankful when they realized that the teenaged girls were stuck babysitting their bratty kids and not even partaking in the 'real' dinner (and this is after the girls served dinner to them).  By the attitude the OP described, the parents seem to feel entitled to free babysitting and having the babysitters do a perfect job of keeping the kids quiet.   This makes them almost as bad as Linda.  It's hard to believe that Linda would make them serve the adults and tempt them with the delicious food, yet not even let them fix a plate before forcing them to the 'kiddie' table.  I don't feel it was rude to ask the girls or other guests if they'd mind helping if help was needed for things such as slicing cheese or carrying out a dish or 2, but forcing them to work the whole time, forcing them to babysit screaming kids, and not allowing them part of the food is beyond rude.

I feel Kelly's parents could have at least gotten her a meal from the buffet, poor girl.  Both the girls parents should have stood up for their daughters in this situation.  I can understand the girls not speaking up for themselves although they would be totally justified in this situation.  As justified as they were, there is always a chance of getting in to trouble when mouthing off to older relatives.  The parents should have said they were leaving if their daughters didn't get to sit with the rest of the guests over 5 and get the dinner the other adults guests had. 


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2007, 04:24:17 PM »
Even as the wishy-washy teen that I was I proably would have eaten my "fantastic" dinner and left the table with all the kids behind.

and would have developed a grand case of "dishwater diarrhea"
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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2007, 09:15:02 AM »
Shouldn't all the children have the option of whether they wanted Mac and Cheese or buffet?  It was good of the host to provide a kid-friendly meal, but to force it on all those under the age of 19 is a bit much.  It is basically akin to eating a first class meal while giving the rest of your guests trash.  Even if a 3 year old wanted the main course, it should have been given to them... afterall, mac and cheese isn't much of a healthy meal. 

As for being treated as a servant, I can understand a teenager being too frightened to protest and winding up doing the work (which is why that evil woman took advantage of their nature).  However, I think it would be completely within their rights to send a thank you note for being invited, however explaining that they felt taken advantage of.  She shouldn't necessarily say that the hostess is rude (as that is rude in itself), but just assert that she felt used.  Would that be acceptable? 

It would be tempting I suppose.  I just always detest people who disguise labor as generosity.  On a bit of a tangent:  I have a relative that insists on having dinner every New Years for her turn (every family has a "turn" of cooking a large meal for everyone for various celebrations throughout the year, completely voluntary).  She then tells guests to bring 3 or 4 dishes (oh and desserts too).  Even though she eats free of charge and labor at everybody elses home, she expects guests to bring their own food when she has a party.  Last year my family alone brought 3 main dishes plus desserts... her contribution?  A caesar salad.  She always manages to become ill when it is time to clean up as well. 

Ugh... either host and do the work/pay hired help, or just do not bother at all!!!   
« Last Edit: January 15, 2007, 09:22:19 AM by annette »


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2007, 09:26:36 AM »
Can you imagine those kids going back to school and mentioning they had macaroni and cheese?


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2007, 12:11:25 PM »
If I were treated like that I would have sent the woman an invoice for my services...or my parents would have.  Sometimes they're PITA, but on this occasion they would have stood up for me.

Poor Kelly.  She deserved better than to be treated like that.
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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2007, 03:04:59 PM »
One time at a family get-together when I was 13, my cousin's wife decided that I was to be in charge of entertaining their 4 year-old daughter. The daughter wanted to play with me because I reminded her of her babysitter back home. I didn't like children and had no experience playing with them, but this lady coaxed me into what I was thinking would be a few minute's play. Nope, she stuck a five-dollar bill into my hand and said thanked me for my services for the day! After a few minutes of me uncomfortably trying to entertain this child, I'd had it and went back to join the adults. The mother gave me the nastiest look and was not pleased that I had left her kid and taken her five dollars. Later on I told my mom what had happened and she said that I was in the right and that this lady had no business making me her daughter's babysitter for the day if I didn't want to.


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Re: Using guests as free labour.
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2007, 03:48:28 PM »
Even though I was raised to respect my elders and to be helpful, I'd have told that lipsticked demon woman where to shove it  :D