64: The Home Invasion

64: The Home Invasion

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

The Home Invasion

Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were.

~Author Unknown

We finally did it! After years of saving and planning, the real estate market plummeted and we were able to buy our dream home. The house was everything we wanted: situated in the perfect school district for our son, with a swimming pool, granite counter tops, walk-in closet and even an extra room for guests.

Aside from my best friend living out of town, I wasn’t sure who would ever need to stay over in a guest room. But we set up the room just in case. The room sat empty for a few months, but at some point our dog began to sleep in there and it became know as Pepper’s room. We often joked as we watched him leave the TV room to head upstairs to bed that he would use his hind leg to shut the door. On one occasion I even received a call from a neighbor asking if Pepper was having a hard night or up reading a book since his room light was on late into the night.

Pepper became more and more comfortable in his surroundings, until one day the call came. It was from a former colleague who I hadn’t seen in years or known other than through her work as a telecommuter. She and her family were going to be traveling and while “passing through” my town asked if they could “bunk” at our place. She took me by surprise, but I figured it would be okay to host them for one night, so I said yes.

The day they were to arrive, we moved Pepper’s bed to our room. They weren’t sure when they would arrive so I prepared dinner in the Crock-Pot. I shopped for breakfast items and filled the refrigerator with things I hoped would make them feel welcome.

As the car pulled up around 7 p.m. we greeted them with open arms. Thank God our arms were open as the items that they unloaded kept coming. Suitcase after suitcase, video games, a guitar, blankets, pillows, computers — you name it, and it was entering my house. I couldn’t help but wonder why they needed so much stuff.

We graciously showed them around and they immediately announced that “little” Jonnie, who by the way was thirteen, the same age as my son and not so little, would not want to sleep on the couch in the family room but on the floor in my son’s room. As you can imagine, my thirteen-year-old son was not too keen on a stranger sleeping in his room. But I gave my son the “let’s be polite” look and little Jonnie set up shop and made himself comfortable. Apparently while “on vacation,” he’s allowed to sleep with candy on his pillow and any other food item he wants. I explained that we don’t have food in our bedrooms… for obvious reasons, I think. They disagreed and allowed it anyway since when on vacation little Jonnie always gets his way.

Once they were settled, dinner was served. Over dinner we visited and learned more about their trip. It all sounded very vague, with no real plans for where they were headed and what they were doing. After dinner they felt so at home they sprawled on the couch, turned on the TV and announced: “Since we are on vacation, we are going to let you do the dishes and clean up after dinner.” Anyone who knows me knows I would have declined their offer for help and told them to relax, but the fact that they declared they were “on vacation” and I was the hostess made me question what was still to come.

I was excited when they said they had brought wine from a vineyard in their area that they knew I loved, until they brought out the invoice and asked me to make the check out directly to them. Maybe I was crazy to think this was a hostess gift but I was raised to bring something when I am a guest in someone’s home.

We got through the evening and headed to bed. As we lay in bed, I kept thinking, “Just one night… I can do this.” That was, of course, until 2 a.m. when the knock at our bedroom door came from the husband saying they heard a loud crash and thought a plane hit our house! A plane? We were in the next room and had fallen asleep with the window open. Besides the obvious fact that there was no way a plane could have hit our house, I think we would have heard something.

Being good hosts and worried about this strange occurrence, we bolted from bed and my husband surveyed the back yard and perimeter of the house to see if there was anything that could have made a loud noise. Keep in mind it was 2 a.m. As he walked the yard he was startled when he turned around to see her husband right behind him, creeping along timidly behind him! While the men were outside, I went to the guest room to check on my “friend.” To my amazement she was sitting up in bed and throwing up in my son’s bathroom trashcan, her pajama top barely hanging on. Apparently, she was upset about the imaginary plane crash. It was something I am not sure I can even explain.

After a little while I noticed my husband was missing and went into our room. He was back in bed, stating this was all too crazy for him and he was going back to sleep. He had to leave for work in a few hours. Once we knew we were safe from crashing airplanes and the trashcan was hosed out, we all went back to sleep.

Morning arrived all too soon. It couldn’t have been 5 a.m. before the sounds of music filled the house. “What is that?” I said out loud. As I went downstairs, following the noise, I found the husband playing his guitar. Apparently this was part of his morning routine. I acted interested as he shared their morning rituals. It went something like this: He gets up at 5 a.m. and plays guitar for a few hours. His wife sleeps until 8 a.m. or so, then gets up to read the newspaper — by the way, I don’t get the paper — and rub little Jonnie’s back for thirty minutes. Then they start their day. I realized that meant it would be 10 a.m. or so before they were on the road. I had errands to do in the morning and since I wasn’t “on vacation,” I had a full day of work ahead of me, too.

Since I clearly had until 8 a.m. before the others would wake up, I got my son up and off to school and ran a few errands. When I returned home I was greeted at the garage door with, “Where were you? We have been calling your cell phone but you left it on the counter.”

“Is everything okay?” I asked.

Their reply was, “Well, we needed ice for our coolers, and we needed you to get us ice and… where is the newspaper?”

I was dumbfounded as I calmly and politely gave them directions to the store at the end of the street. When I asked what was in the cooler, they told me their coolers had food for the days at my house when I would not be serving them meals. What? Days? Then they emptied my refrigerator and made the largest breakfast I have ever seen. After that, the coolers were brought in and ice added, and I saw they had many of the same items in their coolers that I had previously had in my refrigerator.

They then informed me that they decided to go to an amusement park for the day and would return again in time for dinner. I was not sure how to respond except with an “okay” and a silent prayer of gratitude that my husband was working overnight and not returning until the next day.

The family returned right at dinnertime, and I had purposefully not made a plan. When they announced they were hungry I asked what they had in mind. I suggested a pizza or going out. Their response was, “We will do pizza and even pay if you allow us to take the leftovers when we leave.” Again dumbfounded, I agreed although I no longer even wanted a slice.

The rest of the evening was fine, as my son and I made a plan to go to bed early. I promised that the next morning I would be more assertive in sending them on their way. Once again 5 a.m. came all too soon, and once the guitar was played and my refrigerator was cleaned out and little Jonnie’s back was rubbed I asked about their plans for the rest of their trip. With no destination in mind they got out the AAA travel guide and started asking about places. I was very enthusiastic about each place they mentioned, selling hard, even though I’d never been to most of them! They indicated that they might need a key because my son had soccer practice that night. What? They were planning to stay again? I had had enough. I explained that we had too much going on that evening and they would need to set out on the rest of their trip. They still didn’t get the hint and indicated that they would check in later that day.…

As they refilled the coolers with ice once again, I helped load all their items into their car… including the two slices of leftover pizza.

Once they pulled away, I locked the door, got in my car, and headed to The Home Depot to look for dog border wallpaper. I even thought about removing the bed and building a doghouse coming out of the wall. A few months passed before I heard from my guests again. I was able to state without guilt that we no longer had a guest room.

~Cassidy Sanchez

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