Living in several countries, expatriates tend to receive international friends and family in their homes for a given period (thank God).
Let us analyse their stereotypes.
There is the guest who searches for stains on your freshly painted walls, who examines whether the furniture is impeccably polished, who rarely speaks and who awaits by your side for a well-studied cultural programme to be carried out. This kind of guest pays only for his personal expenses, such as tickets for museums or meals in restaurants.
There is also the kind of guest who takes the word “vacation” seriously. He does not tidy up his room, shows you where he left his dirty clothes, does not help in the kitchen, informs you which city attractions he wishes to see, and does not mind if they are far away from your home. He believes that, as you are the host, you are entitled to pay for all his personal expenses, including postcard stamps.
The next stereotype is the person who does not want to bother you. He tidies up his room, irons both yours and his fresh laundry (including your old underwear and your aged socks), suggests the menu for dinner and helps by cooking, pays for his own personal expenses and often invites you to restaurants and even to the theatre. The problem is that, because he thinks he is the big dog, he starts trying to control and criticise the way you do things in your own home. He says you listen music too loud, and he may even try to get hold of the TV remote control.
Ever heard of the stereotype who invites himself and brings along the (unannounced) entire family, including his in-laws, his uncle, his grandfather and even his pet? He does not care whether the house is too full or too noisy, because for him the most important thing in life is the reunited family. He is the kind of person who wishes to do absolutely everything together. The host cannot even relax in the bath late at night because the guest will think that, despite this degree of intimacy, they should also be together, enjoying every moment of family time to the maximum. Privacy is a word he does not know. Every single decision, even the silliest, such as choosing a dish in a restaurant, must be discussed as a family.
There is also the naturalist guest. He walks around the house half-naked with a tiny face towel wrapped around his waist, does not eat meat, does not wear leather shoes, and sits and sleeps only on the floor. He does not use toothpaste nor deodorant because he loves natural smells, including the morning breath. This guest would never repress his children for jumping around or on your sofa, or for touching your Chinese porcelain or your objects of art with sticky hands covered in melted chocolate or juice (or even worse) because he is too proud of the energy these kids have in abundance. Likewise, he also does not see any reason for your desperation when his same precious children relieve themselves of their biological needs on your (even more precious) Persian rug, since they also walk around naked at home all the time. Cultural programmes? What for? All he wants is to philosophise about feelings and enjoy nature while walking in the woods, eating outdoors, gazing at the stars, enjoying the moment without stress and forgetting the time, including your own. They are not concerned with paying anything because they defend the idea that nature offers everything for free.
There is still one more guest stereotype, perhaps the worst of all: that’s the kind of person who speaks ill of you and of your city without the slightest appreciation for all that you have done.
So I ask: what sort of guest stereotype is your favourite? None of the options listed above need apply…
Luciana B. Veit