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by Abigail Van Buren

Drop-In Visitors Get Cold Shoulder

DEAR ABBY: I live in a mid-sized town in the South. I need advice on how to politely tell people that I don't like drop-in company.

I work a stressful job. When I get home, I like to put on my old, comfortable clothes, curl up with a book or watch TV with my companion dog and be left alone. I'm not trying to be rude, but I think it is rude for people to drop in unannounced.

A few years ago, I had a life-threatening illness, and I am still getting my stamina back to full strength. I need downtime to recharge so I can handle the stresses of my job. However, I am apparently perceived in this Southern community as unfriendly. How do I put out the "Not Welcome" mat while at the same time not alienating my community? -- LACKS SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY

DEAR LACKS: Honesty is the best policy. If apologies are due, express them. Explain to these nice people that you don't mean to appear unfriendly, and you would like to be social, but your job is stressful and takes a lot out of you, and the reason you can't entertain or socialize is you don't have the stamina. If they are offended after that, the problem is theirs.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors | Health & Safety | Work & School