Wearing out the welcome mat: House guests are a given for Tahoans | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wearing out the welcome mat: House guests are a given for Tahoans

Photo Illustration by Dan Thrift and Rebecca Enerson / Tahoe Daily Tribune

From ski bums to professionals, Tahoe residents likely have one thing in common: We’ve all hosted our fair share of house guests.

Sometimes it’s a constant stream of one or two. Sometimes it’s eight people at once.

“I don’t think people really realize how many guests you get living out here in Tahoe,” said Mike Hittle, who moved here from Chico a year ago to work for an environmental planning firm. “I’ve had months where every single weekend I’ve had people at my house.”

And while guests are often welcome because they enhance the social life of a small town, they sometimes leave their manners back in the city.

“One of my pet peeves is I invite one or two friends and they start inviting one or two friends each – other people I don’t know – and all of a sudden it’s 11 people,” said Brett Barratt, a lawyer in Carson City who lives on Kingsbury Grade.

With his hot tub and lake views, Barratt enjoys being an entertainer and making his friends jealous of his lifestyle.

Still, he said it would be nice if his guests brought enough food and drink, put their used towels back on the rack and threw away empty bottles and cans.

Adults in social situations sometimes don’t know common courtesy, said Rebecca Black, who runs a Davis-based etiquette education company called Etiquette By Rebecca. She teaches classes throughout the country to everyone from children to CEOs.

In most cases, it’s best to be honest if someone has really made you uncomfortable with a lapse in manners, she said.

“People think they are not being polite if they are honest,” Black said. “Our feelings matter as well as everyone else’s. Women have a harder time at that, we are supposed to be accommodating and sweet.”

A good guest helps a host with whatever needs to be done, she said. The whole idea of manners is to imagine yourself in their shoes.

First and foremost: Don’t come empty handed.

“If you are spending a couple days there, at the very least, bring a bottle of wine and some flowers,” Black said.

There is such thing as overkill. A huge box of food can leave the host without any refrigerator space. Vacuuming and scrubbing bathrooms can imply the host doesn’t keep their house clean enough.

In desperation, sometimes hosts resort to a list of essential tasks for their guests and post it on a refrigerator or door. Black said that is inappropriate.

“I don’t like signs at all. If we are so worried about what our guests are going to do, we shouldn’t have guests,” Black said. “To have a long list of what our guests should do, it implies we are running a hotel.”

But for some in Tahoe, that’s not far off.

What not to do:

How to be a bad house guest in Tahoe:

— Bring friends unannounced who your host doesn’t know.

— Arrive without bearing gifts.

— Oversleep on a holiday powder day so your hosts can’t get first tracks.

— Walk in the house wearing your dirty ski boots.

— Arrive in the middle of the night, especially between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

— Insist everyone goes to the casinos.

— Bring home someone you met at the casinos.

— Use up all the kindling to make a fire, and don’t chop any more.

— Borrow something, like an ice scraper, then keep it.

How to be a bad guest in general:

— Don’t offer to pay for anything when you go out.

— Leave your empty bottles and coffee spills.

— Never take out the trash, shop, clean or help cook.

— Leave the toilet seat up and don’t replace the roll.

— Turn on the TV without asking, take control of the remote.

— Don’t bring your own towel and leave the one you do use in a puddle on the floor.

— Eat the last of everything.

— Break something and don’t tell anyone.

— Because you are such good friends with the host, never say “thanks.”

— Get belligerently drunk and pee in the back yard.

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