View Full Version : Relatives Dropping By

07-31-2008, 08:30 PM
Does anyone else think it's the height of rudeness to "drop in"? Here's the scenario: I'm full-time caregiver for my disabled father. We live in a small space, so the place is always cluttered -- not dirty, just a bunch of stuff everywhere.

When we know someone will be coming over, we take a day to creatively hide the mess...stash stuff in Dad's van, etc. The place is too small to spruce up on a few minutes' notice, and there's nowhere for anybody to sit most of the time.

So there's that. Then there's the problem of being wrapped up in work. I write full-time and I'm juggling way too many deadlines right now. I can't just drop everything to go have a chat. On top of everything else, Dad and I are leaving in a few days for a two month trip. So the normal clutter and time constraints are 1000 times worse.

My uncle (Dad's brother) lives 20 minutes from here with his girlfriend we can't stand. Allegedly they both have jobs, but they never seem to be at work. They call incessantly. If we don't answer, they call another 50 times at two minute intervals. We've told them a million times that dropping in is not okay.

So today they show up on the doorstep. In the rain. Just to say hi. I'm still in my pajamas and haven't showered yet, trying to make a deadline of today (I have ten articles due today). Dad's on the phone trying to make last minute changes to our reservations for this trip. So Dad gets off the phone, changes clothes and goes outside in the rain to talk, telling me the whole time that I should go too. He comes back in two minutes later cause the girlfriend wants a soda.

Do I have a right to be pissed? Am I doing the wrong thing by staying at work and not dropping my articles to socialize? Personally, if I'd answered the door I'd have told the uncle where to go, but Dad's nicer than I am. How do you handle this kind of situation?

07-31-2008, 08:40 PM
Id have to say that as a self named full time caregiver that you are shortchanging your father by also being a full time writer. If there is stuff everywhere to the point where there is no place to sit then Id have to say that the place is dirty. Your father obviously wanted to see them, he went out in the rain and he is disabled. Sounds like you need to reexamine your priorities here. As a caregiver, the very least you should be doing is to keep the place livable. Just my opinion, and as always feel free to ignore everything Ive said.

yer pal brian

07-31-2008, 08:45 PM
My husband and I live in a two-room apartment (bedroom + living/kitchen area) and manage to keep it clean and neat most of the time. We've got lots of places for people to sit. Sounds like it might be time for you to do a major clean and get rid of stuff you really don't need. That way whenever any relatives drop by unexpectedly, they and your dad can sit down and you can disappear and do whatever you need to without freaking out.

On the other hand, it's definitely polite to call ahead, even if it's just a few minutes, before coming over.

07-31-2008, 08:48 PM
I hate it when people drop by.

That said, how about you take a few days to organize? It's been my experience that most people who have cluttered homes can get rid of 80% (totally made-up percentage) of their crap and still have everything they need. Here's an easy way to do it: box everything up, and whatever remains in the boxes at the end of a month goes in the trash.

Shower and dress FIRST thing! There should be no reason why a guest could not come in from the rain. Even an unexpected one.

07-31-2008, 09:08 PM
Thanks all, for your thoughtful replies. I do appreciate them. Let me clarify what I mean by "small space." We're in a 180 square foot travel trailer, at Dad's insistence. I've tried to talk him into moving multiple times into an apartment or home (which I would pay for), but he won't do it. He and my mom bought this trailer ten days before she passed away three years ago, and he's very attached.

The layout is: his bedroom at the end, then the living area, which is also where I sleep and work and includes the "kitchen" (half size stove and refrigerator) and then a microscopic bathroom area. If you've ever been in a small travel trailer, you'll have some idea what I'm talking about. We don't have junk, we lost everything we own in Katrina. We have our clothes, a single TV, two computers and a few books/DVDS/CDs and personal items. What else would you suggest we get rid of? I clean the place every day, it's just that there's nowhere to put anything away. So I don't appreciate being told that I'm falling down on the job as a caregiver when I keep things to the best of my ability within the space I'm working in. I hardly think that I'm shortchanging my father by working, considering he relies on the income. But by working from home, at least I'm here when he needs me, right?

Showering and dressing first thing is definitely a great idea, but I'm sure I'm not the only writer on this board who, when not expecting company and on a tight deadline, has been guilty of being in her pajamas at 11 am. I can't disappear, as someone suggested, because there are no doors in here other than the bathroom door. Should I take my computer and sit in the bathtub??

The uncle, by the way, lives in a huge house. He couldn't call and invite us over there why, exactly?

And no, Dad didn't want to see them. He doesn't get along with the brother at all, and he strongly dislikes the girlfriend. He doesn't pick up the phone when they call until the 50th time, just to get them to stop calling. He just didn't know what else to do but go talk to them.

07-31-2008, 09:34 PM
Ah, I had a friend who lived in AirStream, and you're right; just bring in a loaf of bread and a six-pack, and the place is cluttered.

I'm sure the uncle is just concerned. I would be, if my widowed brother lived in a travel trailer with his adult child. I don't know any more about your circumstances but what you've said here, but maybe your dad needs some grief therapy to let go of the trailer? It's a crowded environment for a solo person. Two can't be healthy, for either of you.

07-31-2008, 10:03 PM
Agreed with Siddow. It sounds very stressful for all of you, and that can't be good for your writing, his health, your health, or any of your happiness.

Other than not answering the door, there isn't much you can do other than be gracious when people come, and if they come, explain that you have deadlines, excuse yourself to go shower and dress and take your laptop and leave to go to the nearest cybercafe to finish your work.

They can check up on your Dad and you can get your work done.

07-31-2008, 10:08 PM
This is why I live about an hour from all my relatives.
Only a few close friends will drop by unannounced at my house. And no, I don't stop what I'm doing to cater to them, unless it's necessary. But then again, these are people that will wash my dishes and put them away after I've invited them over for dinner or something.

If I have to clean my house to invite someone over, that's not someone I want to see very often. I have 3 dogs, 2 young kids, and a hubby and they are all in the house. Hubby vacuums the floor about 3 times a week, but there is still dog hair sometimes. Most of the time, the kids' room looks like a tornado may help clean it, and no one touches my desk. It doesn't matter that you can't see the desk for the clutter, I know exactly where everything is and it is just fine for me.

I just think if your living situation suits you, then don't change it. But I also think that anyone that knows you well enough to know where you live should also know you well enough to know there are times when you are working and don't want to be bothered.

Just my opinion...

07-31-2008, 10:15 PM
My present-day housemate has a friend who would drive 40 miles just to drop in and say "Hi!" and to shoot the breeze (it was cheaper than phone bills, she claimed)--no phone call, no warning, no nothing.

One time she showed up at the door. My housemate answered the door and said, "Hi, Patti. Sorry, I can't talk right now. I'm screwing my husband." and closed the door in her face.

I know this happened because Patti showed up at MY door unannounced to kvetch and cry about how unfair the treatment had been. I made her buy me and my kids lunch to listen to her story.

FWIW, she never again showed up at either of our places without approval.

Some people just have to get smacked in the face with a big smelly trout to get the message. And if the trout doesn't work, try the 2x4. It's not nice and it's not PC, but when graciousness doesn't work, they lost that privilege as far as I'm concerned.

07-31-2008, 10:22 PM
Living close to relatives, especially ones you don't get along with, is difficult but they are family and someday you may need them for something. Have you ever had a heart to heart with Uncle and Uncles girlfriend about respecting your wishes for consideration towards your lifestyle and privacy?

07-31-2008, 10:27 PM
blackrose-don't feel you to explain or apologize for how your place looks to anyone. And if people insist on dropping by unannounced and your dad wants to see them then the visitors have to accept your place as it looks. And no if you are too busy writing and doing other things you don't have to stop and entertain your uninvited guests.

People have to be understanding that when they arrive somewhere unannounced and uninvited those they are dropping in on might very well have other things scheduled.

08-01-2008, 06:36 AM
I hate 'drop by' visits. It is a rude imposition on my time.

I particularly hate if if the house is cluttered.

I have a Border Collie in Vegas. The darned thing sheds so bad we have to vacuum every other day. After two days, we have clumps of dog hair in the corners which we refer to as 'spare dogs'. On tile floors, it tends to clump up.

Drop bys are fine when you're in college. After that, it's time to grow up and use the phone to wrangle an invite, giving people an hour or so to clear up the clutter and toss the dirty dishes in the sink.

Jersey Chick
08-01-2008, 09:14 AM
We've always had a no drop-in rule. My mom literally lives around the corner from us and she calls before she comes over. I don't like the pop in, either - especially when people think that because I'm home all day I must not have anything better to do than entertain - yeah, the kids, the house and the errands just magically take care of themselves.

Maybe you need to tell your uncle something along the lines of appreciating his concern, but you really need a heads-up. A lot of pop in people don't realize that it's really kind of rude to just show up at someone's house until you point it out to them (nicely, of course. :D)

08-01-2008, 06:05 PM
This isn't really TIO material. Please read "Differences between TIO and OP"

If you're blowing off steam about general life stuff, that goes in Office Party, too. Or if you're worried about a member, or there's something horrible in the news, etc. I know it may feel kind of funny posting serious things in "Office Party," but that is still the appropriate place for it.

Underline is mine - 'something [horrible] in the news' belongs on the Politics and Current Events board.

Thank you.

Moving to Office Party. Please fasten your seatbelts, and return your seatbacks and tray tables to their upright, locked positions.

Clair Dickson
08-01-2008, 06:39 PM
I'm a firm believer that if you stop by unannounced, you get my house "as is". Don't like it? Don't stop by without calling. And if you call, I can and will turn you down. Don't like it? Not my problem. If you complain, I'll just laugh at you.

And if I'm working on something, I'll let you know. Sorry, but it's not my job to entertain unannounced guests. I'll tell you on the door step, "look, i'm busy. I can only chat for a minute, but I have work to do." Don't like it... tough. Find someone who cares.

Non-conversations can be pretty effective with phone calls, too. Put the phone to your ear and continue what you were doing. Answer with one word answers that may or may not actually answer the questino (like do you want x or y? no.) If questioned, say, "sorry, busy. I can call you when I'm not busy, if that would work." I also use a variation of this in the unwanted conversations that come with some family.

I also don't beleive in putting up with rude, imposing people. I'll tell them I don't like them/their behavior, then become as social as a pissed off porcupine. But I'm also pretty anti-social to start with. =D

08-01-2008, 06:46 PM
Yes, it's rude. Set your boundaries now or it'll only get worse. Give 'em an inch... as they say. Tell them the hours that are off-limits for calls and visits, say from 9am to 4pm, and that you'll accept calls and visits after that time and up to whatever time, say 7pm. And then stick to it.

If you've told them and they continue to drop in or call, don't allow them past the doorway, reminding them of the time, and don't answer the phone to them. Turn it off if you have to. If they ask why you didn't answer, remind them of the boundaries yet again.