Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | June 14, 2011

House Guest Horrors

Every summer, the species comes out of hibernation and wreaks havoc in your home, eating everything in its path and leaving a mess in its wake. No, we don’t mean bears or ants. We’re talking about house guests, those all-too-common creatures who show up on your family’s doorstep and create total chaos.

It may seem like we’re exaggerating, but for every lovely guest we’ve heard of (like the gracious woman who offered free babysitting services and made a batch of delicious muffins for our friends), there are two awful tales about a selfish or slovenly visitor who made their hosts regret ever opening the front door.

Before you play host or stay with a friend, read our totally anonymous worst-house guest tales.

SIN NO. 1: SNOOPING When you open your home to people, you are trusting them around your most prized possessions and giving them a peek into your private life. But that doesn’t mean a guest should abuse that trust. One friend tells us that there was “obvious evidence that the house guest had gone through our things.” There were caps left off of items in her medicine cabinet and things hanging out of drawers. “It was totally creepy,” she adds.


This one came up a lot in our survey: The house sitter who overwatered her hosts’ plants in the living room but didn’t wipe up the resulting flood, causing thousands of dollars of damage to the floors. The guest who unloaded the dishwasher and placed items exactly where they didn’t belong (“I couldn’t find my cutting boards until we moved!” our friend admitted). The budding chef who insisted on making a gourmet meal but left a messy kitchen that took hours for the hosts to clean up.


One friend told us that she found a “mystery stain” on a mattress after a friend departed. Another had an even weirder tale. He and his wife let a couple stay at their home while they were out of town. When they returned, they couldn’t find their comforter. When asked, their guests acted surprised and confused. “Oh, yeah, right,” they finally offered up, reaching back in their memory from one day earlier -they’d gone to the emergency room with the comforter and then left the bedding in their car and forgotten about it. No further explanation was offered. We once (stupidly, but in our defence, it was our first kid) changed a newborn’s diaper on our relative’s 80 billion-thread-count king-sized bed. Disaster.


“My folks lent out their house to some friends who were in town for a wedding. They left their kids at the house with a sitter and attended the wedding. Their sitter proceeded to help herself to my parents’ liquor cabinet and then barfed on the living room chair and rug. And then she passed out. Oh, and she was a minor.” Granted, this wasn’t the fault of the guests, who were mortified, but it was their sitter who caused the gross damage.


“People have no idea how much work it is to entertain,” says one woman. Her demanding visitors “were so entitled, they expected to be waited on and amused the entire time.” Another frustrated homeowner says, “We had people visit for a weekend. Their kids got up at 6 a.m. and ran around the house while the parents slept until 9: 30 or 10 a.m.”

Instead of sleeping, he and his wife had to get up, make the children breakfast and watch over them as their parents enjoyed a free morning of babysitting.


We’d never advocate charging a guest for your hospitality, but many people take advantage of their hosts’ generosity. One woman’s cousin will often call to say she’s coming, then show up later that day with her boyfriend and two young children in tow. “They don’t help with dishes or cooking and don’t offer to pay -even for themselves -if we go out.”


It’s surprising how easy it is to forget to thank your hosts -maybe you’re racing to catch a flight or your kids are freaking out about getting back into the car and you’re focusing on making sure you haven’t forgotten anything. But we admit, it stings when our guests don’t express their gratitude.


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