DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a graduate student, renting a house (that I fully furnish). To help reduce my expenses, I sublet the other rooms to grad students like myself.
I have always told my housemates that I have no problem with occasional houseguests coming for a short period, provided they give prior notice and don’t overstay their welcome. For the most part, my housemates have been considerate, but this past weekend has me stumped.
One of them had a friend and her boyfriend come to stay for the weekend. When I entered the house and saw the couple, no one offered any formal introductions. The couple basically ignored me, even though I was in the same room they were all in.
The next morning, I was in the kitchen and one of the visitors came downstairs, started opening up the cupboards and proceeded to ask me where the glasses were. Again, no “good morning,” no introduction. Just, “Where are the glasses?” (Which are all mine, by the way.)
I am appalled. In the Caribbean, where I’m from, it is customary when you are visiting someone’s home to bring a small token of gratitude for all the residents of the house, e.g., a bottle of wine or such. You introduce yourself to all inhabitants you meet while in the home (or at the very least, you say “Good morning” if you see them), and you take your friends out to dinner to thank them for their hospitality.
I have noticed a trend with folks coming to stay and treating the house like a hotel and me like the staff. Has this always been the “norm”? I was really offended by this experience.
GENTLE READER: While she cannot condone the rudeness of ignoring a person standing (in this case, also sleeping) nearby, Miss Manners notes that your housemates are your tenants, and their guests are not your guests.
If you are a host, why are you charging rent? If you are a landlord, why do you expect gifts?
As the social pattern doesn’t work, you should try a professional approach. Written instructions about use of the facilities, either distributed or posted, may not be necessary. But asking your tenants to introduce you to their guests -- or introducing yourself if you meet them alone -- would be a start.