Ask Amy: Traveling Guest Feels the Poor Hospitality

By Amy Dickinson | July 14th, 2021

Do bad guests breed bad hosts – or vice versa?


Guest wants more water Image

Dear Amy: Several times now, I have been invited to visit the homes of old friends during my travels to distant states, but when I have done that, I’ve been surprised at how inhospitable some people are.

They know when I will be there, and I make sure to call an hour before arriving. Just last week, I visited a person I have known since grade school.

She was waiting for me on her porch.

It was very hot, and I had driven for hours. She was sipping iced tea. I had to ask for a glass of water.

Then she announced that I would take her out for lunch (that is, I had to pay) and that would be enough for us to eat for the rest of the day.

She did offer for me to stay there that night.

Several times, I had to ask for a glass of water. It was 95 degrees out. After chatting all day, I was shown my bed. No shower or towels were offered.

I got up early and her husband was making a cup of Keurig coffee for himself.

I waited for him to offer me a cup, but he did not. So I asked for a glass of water. When I left (fled), this friend said, “Oh, come back and visit next year.”

I just cannot imagine treating a guest this way.

What do you think?

– Upset Guest


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Dear Upset: I agree that this is not the way to treat a guest.

Some people don’t seem to have the skill set to roll out the welcome mat, and this might be because they are not well-traveled, themselves. One way to learn how to be a gracious host is to have the experience of being a grateful guest.

However, I’m not sure you really qualify as a fully-invited guest, because you seem to have reached out to these friends as more of a way-station during your travels.

Years ago, I had a distant friend call at the very last minute and I offered her a bed for the night. She brought her own sheets and towel, tea, granola, etc., almost as if she were camping. I was impressed that she was so prepared to be such a low-trace guest. (I was extremely happy when she agreed to stay a second night.)

You might feel less put-out and thirsty if you had brought a few of your own supplies – just in case.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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