The dilemma is this – how do you tell a visitor who is trashing your hospitality and trust to get out of your house? The question arose after a friend had a bruising experience with a travelling buddy who stayed with the friend’s sister; she overstayed her welcome, borrowed money which was never repaid and then left without a thank you or goodbye. How do you deal with the visitor from hell?
When I lived in Greece – which is such a popular holiday destination everyone you know wants to go there – I had two similar horror stories. Mainly, visitors were great – they even did the dishes. But two girls stayed a week, didn’t lift a finger or pay for anything because they were “saving up to buy carpets in Istanbul”. I should have asked them to leave at that point, but foolishly, I didn’t.
Then there was Sara B, who helped herself to my jewellery and clothing, and then did the same while house sitting for another couple. Sara was the younger sister of one of my oldest friends, so she arrived to stay with us in Athens already in a position of trust. When we left to go on holiday she readily agreed to look after our apartment and then do the same for friends who lived close by.
While we were away she stole my daughter’s christening jewellery and my only pair of gold earrings, some summer clothes and money, and when she went over to our friends, she helped herself to their wardrobe too. We later met up with Sara while we were still on holiday in Sydney, and she was as cool as a cucumber. We didn’t know what she had done until two weeks later when we walked in our front door. Shock and disbelief quickly turned to anger. I detailed the stolen items and wrote her family a stern letter. They declined to address the issue – so I walked away from a friendship anxious and depressed at their lack of accountability, and slept badly for weeks.
I’ve had a lot more people to stay since we moved countries to Australia. We’ve got off lightly, apart from the very heavy smoker who slept on the couch for more than a month and cried down the phone daily to her boyfriend that she hated Sydney. She climbed in through a window one night when we weren’t home to pack up her stuff and leave, before I had a chance to tell her to get out. She left some things behind and no, we didn’t forward them on. As if!
On occasion I’ve not been the best visitor either. Staying with anyone for a week when you have bronchitis isn’t a good idea. I’ve done it twice.
My point is, you generally welcome travellers into your home in a spirit of friendship and trust. If it’s being abused, I urge you to protect your sanity and your home.
- Your home is your sanctuary. Protect its integrity. Firmly and politely tell the offender to leave.
- Give them brochures on hostels and hotels so they have clear options other than your place.
- So they might get offended? They have already behaved badly so what have you got to lose?
- And lock up your valuables!