Saturday, February 13, 2016

Being a crappy guest...

Good morning, all...  It's a grey, depressing, Saturday here in Germany.  Bill has arrived safely from his latest trip, though his bags are delayed in Zurich.  He should be home soon and I look forward to seeing him.  I always enjoy our reunions, especially after the week we've endured.  I think Bill had a better week than I did, though.

I could write about politics or true crime or something similar today.  Instead, I want to write about a situation I recently saw referenced on RfM.  Normally, when I write about threads on RfM, I link to said thread.  Today, I'm not going to bother.  I notice that most people never click on links anyway.  Besides, I'm tired and crabby.  My nose is all chapped and sore.  It hurts and I have swollen glands.  It's good that I don't have any plans this weekend.  I'd make a crappy guest.

Yes, sometimes people suck for all kinds of reasons you'll never understand.  A week or so ago, a woman on RfM wrote about a couple of Mormon sister missionaries who came over to chat with the woman's husband.  She explained that she and her husband are disabled, living on a fixed income, and unable to do a lot of cooking.  For that reason, they often go out to eat.  However, because they don't have a lot of money, they have to watch their expenses.

Anyway, these sister missionaries came over and the couple decided to take them out to dinner.  They were headed to a Greek restaurant.  Both missionaries said that was fine and that they liked Greek food.  One of the sister missionaries ordered a $14 entree that the original poster had ordered and enjoyed many times herself.  The young lady apparently didn't care for the meal and barely touched it, effectively wasting a precious $14 of her hosts' money.

The egregious wastefulness of the food and the money disgusted the original poster's husband, who had previously had a lot of sympathy for the missionaries.  The next time they called, he abruptly told them to take him and his wife off of their phone list.  The original poster was delighted that her husband had finally seen the light and was no longer going to be so willing to feed the missionaries.

I couldn't help but have a few mixed emotions about this scenario.  First off, I completely understand being broke.  I've been there myself many times.  Bill and I were broke for half our marriage, in part, due to the LDS church.  So I get why this couple was upset that one of the sister missionaries had so thoughtlessly thrown away what was, to them, an expensive dinner.  It's rude on many levels.  The couple thought they were doing a kind thing for two young women whom they knew had little money.  The couple had little money themselves.  So it seemed like a rejection of their kindness as well as a waste of money.

Secondly, the sister missionary did not handle the situation with much grace.  If she wasn't feeling well or wasn't hungry, she could have asked for the meal to be boxed up for later.  If the food wasn't something she liked, she could always throw it away once she was safely away from her hosts.

On the other hand, I can sort of empathize with the missionary, too.  When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia, I was often served things I didn't like.  I remember one time trying to choke down sheep's lung at someone's rural home.  They had made lavash fresh from a pit that was delicious and helped me with the less appetizing part of the meal.  Another time, I ate khash, which is a rather disgusting concoction that Armenians think of as a delicacy.  Basically, it's a garlicky soup made with cows legs and hooves.  It helps to have a lot of lavash and copious amounts of vodka.  But it would be rude not to try it because it is used for celebration and because many people in Armenia are poor.

Of course, if you have a sensitive stomach and/or nose, your disgust will be obvious.  It probably pays to simply pretend to eat, lest you hurl all over the place.

I don't know...  I can see why the original poster was upset.  The young woman was being a crappy guest.  She wasn't appreciating the time and money spent, and consideration her hosts showed to her.  On the other hand, I think maybe the hosts were also guilty of being ungracious.  It's best to give without strings attached.  Aside from that, being a good host means being sensitive to your guests' comfort.

In this situation, I think both parties may have been guilty of lacking perspective and empathy.  The finicky missionary did not seem to appreciate that she was throwing away her hosts' money and rejecting their kindness.  I think it's very likely that she didn't mean to be rude to them.  She was simply focused on herself, which many people in their late teens and early 20s are entirely guilty of being.  The hosts may not have realized how young and immature missionaries really are.  It's possible that the young lady they hosted was never taught to be considerate.  In fact, given the behavior that many missionaries exhibit and, in fact, are even specifically TRAINED to exhibit, it's possible that this rude behavior might have even been unwittingly reinforced.

There's a delicate balance to be achieved in a host/guest interaction and mutual consideration should be employed by both parties.  Sadly, it usually isn't because most people are pretty selfish.  I am as guilty of that as anyone is.

The OP is happy because it means no more missionary encounters, at least for awhile.  But it also means the mission experience will end up being that much more difficult for subsequent missionaries.  And there will be fewer opportunities to show them that exMormons can be perfectly happy, normal, functional people.  On the other hand, given that so many young people are self-centered and not necessarily focused on other people, maybe it's just best if they concentrated on themselves, too.

I don't think I enjoy being a guest as much now that I'm older.  It seems like so many other things, it's transactional.  


  1. I can identify with picky eaters, but I would hope I'd have enough grace to fake a stomach ailment or something else and have the food boxed, then toss it later if my companion didn't want it. I'm also especially careful what I order in ethnic restaurants because of my pickiness. I usually order a la carte so I'm not faced with side orders on my plate that are unsightly to me. It sounds as though the girl was probably thoughtless, but, as you stated, it's far from unusual for someone of her age to be selfish even if she has been taught to be otherwise, and there's certainly no guarantee that she has been. When you and your siblings are raised more as a litter of pets than as future adults who will be expected to function in society, all sorts of niceties fall by the wayside. (I understand that some parents even of comparatively huge broods with what I would consider a less than desirable span between the oldest and youngest do a remarkable job of imparting what most of us agree are essential skills and values one needs in order to function optimally in today's world; in my own family, however, I have not observed such to be the norm.)

    I don't really blame the woman for being glad to be rid of the mishies. No one who doesn't want the task is, in my opinion, responsible for being a poster child for exmormonism. Furthermore, i hate to expound on the trials and tribulations of being a picky eater as though it's some sort of disease, which it clearly isn't, but I think some people don't understand just how awful it is for a really picky eater to take even one bite of something that is truly awful for them. Still, the girl should have ordered more carefully. The restaurant probably had bread, which she should have been able to eat easily enough, and cheaply as well.

    I've been on the site a couple of times in the past week but missed that post. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Yeah, you're right. No one has to be an exMormon poster child. I wouldn't want to do that. It's just that I have empathy for missionaries, even as I understand that they are adults who do have a choice when it comes down to it.

      And I also empathize with picky eaters. I'm a fairly picky eater myself. I cannot, under any circumstances, eat mushrooms. They cause a visceral reaction in me. And one time, I was invited to someone's house for dinner and she made something loaded with mushrooms. I had to explain why I couldn't eat it. It was very embarrassing. But I had brought fresh baked bread (that I made)and she wasn't a bread eater, so it all worked out for the best.

      It was an interesting thread. Most posters took one side or another with most siding with the OP. I had mixed feelings and didn't want to whine in yet another post, so I decided to write about it. My brain is slowly sharpening after my sickness.


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