Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Bottle of Wine Won't Cut It

I had an interesting conversation with Rosie who is the manager of our fitness club here in town.

She commented that this has been an unusually busy season for her members to have surprise visitors coming in from cold weather parts of the country. Not surprisingly, these new-found friends are quite interested in partaking of our unseasonably warm weather during the heart of winter elsewhere.

One member even commented: “I just heard from my brother whom I haven’t spoken to in years. He wants to visit with his new bride and I haven’t even met her yet. What am I going to do with them for a week in my small two-bedroom condo?” She’s decided to spend appreciably more time at the gym while her self-invited company lounges by her pool.

Living in a warm weather locale during the winter month’s makes one an attractive target for visitors and occasional guests who love to drop in and savor the warm weather, blue skies and gorgeous mountain views. The same thing is happening to our friends who now live here year-round. They too have seen a steady influx of guests from back home.

The common equation among some of these newly implanted house guests is an attitude that your home has become their home away from home – at least in their mind. They’ve drunk from the jug called “A Palm Springs Lifestyle” and swallowed it entirely. It’s an interesting paradigm and yet nothing could be further from reality.

What seems to be missing for some of these house guests is the simple realization that it’s your ‘home’ they’re staying in. It’s not a Motel Six down the road or some cute B&B they read about in Good Housekeeping Magazine. Some of them don’t seem to understand that it’s not your rental property or your vacation home or even second home. It’s your home…period…and as such should be treated that way.

While all of us here are very fortunate to have a place to stay during the winter months, most of us have worked darn hard to earn the right to be here in the first place. It’s not something we take lightly or for granted and as such we’re very protective of it.

House guests are a different breed aside from family and sometimes family doesn’t get it either.

There’s an old cliché about fish and house guests being tolerable for about three days and after that…

I’ve stumbled upon a simple test that is a pretty good indicator of how our guests are going to perceive their stay in town. It occurred over a couple of years with three different couples.

After picking up our guests at the airport, I drive to the exit gate to pay for parking.

1.      Without saying a word, the first couple whipped out a ten dollar bill to pay for parking.
2.      Once at the gate, the second couple spoke up in the back seat about offering to pay for parking but went no further than that.
3.      The third couple just kept talking in the backseat and didn’t even notice that I had paid for parking.

It turned out to be the perfect metaphor for how these three couples saw their week in Palm Springs as our guests. The first couple saw it as a wonderful opportunity to enjoy all that Palm Springs had to offer and a willingness to show their appreciation for opening up our home to them. They didn’t hesitate to pay for their fair share of our expenses that week.

The second couple appreciated their week in Palm Springs and wanted to reciprocate by taking us to dinner a couple of times.

The third couple enjoyed their week in Palm Springs.
One of the rituals among desert resort society is to bring a gift when invited over to another person’s home for an event, dinner, a party, etc. Often times, it’s a bottle of wine assuming your hosts drink vino. It’s a time-honored way of acknowledging the invitation to engage with friends. Much like the time-honored ritual of sending a thank you card for pleasantries exchanged or gifts, etc. it’s something that comes quite naturally to some people and not so much for others.

Some folks get it and others don’t. As a friend once commented about frequent guests who like to partake of another’s hospitality on numerous occasions but seldom reciprocate themselves. He said “A bottle of wine just doesn’t cut it.”

Reciprocal action is required if any relationship is going to last. Some people get it and some don’t.

So goes the game of life…and hospitality.

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