Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: The friendly drop-in. Okay or unacceptable?

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Uninvited guests may find it a struggle to get through the door to complete the intrusion of their supposed host's space. Photo / Thinkstock
Uninvited guests may find it a struggle to get through the door to complete the intrusion of their supposed host's space. Photo / Thinkstock

Some people view the so-called "friendly drop-in" with all the warmth with which they'd greet a home invasion. After all, an unannounced visit from thoughtless guests has more in common with a commando-style raid than a genuine social occasion. It's unsurprising such drop-ins have become unacceptable in some quarters.

The demise of the friendly drop-in has been attributed to the rise and rise of technology. That old chestnut "We were in the neighbourhood and thought we'd drop by on the off-chance" lost its credibility around the same time mobile phones became widely adopted; there's really no excuse for not texting or telephoning ahead.

Our particular age and stage could well affect our level of hostility towards surprise drop-ins. In our carefree twenties and perhaps again in old age we may think they're fine but in the busy middle years - when we're juggling families, jobs and other commitments - we lose patience with those prepared to inconvenience us by their own unwillingness to plan ahead.

Personality types probably impact on our attitudes too. Spontaneous free spirits take unexpected drop-ins in their stride unlike those uptight folk who are only stressed by such intrusions. Furthermore, because so many of us are working from home these days, our professional lives are likely to be disrupted in addition to our domestic lives. Geographical considerations also come into play. It's said that rural folk are more open to receiving spur-of-the-moment visitors than city people.

The phenomenon was explored in a Daily Life piece entitled Death of the friendly drop-in. Reader comments revealed polarised responses. Some people considered drop-ins to be the height of rudeness. Others lamented the fact they didn't receive more unheralded visitors.

Spontaneous visitors make some people feel self-conscious about the state of their house or standard of dress. One person thought it was all about timing: evidently Saturday afternoon is fine but 7pm Tuesday not so much. Another commenter suggested the need for a drop-in App that could tell your circle of friends whether you're available or unavailable for drop-ins. This idea harks back to the Victorian tradition of householders having designated times for receiving visitors.

The writer of The Surprise Visit. Don't. Please is unequivocal on the subject: "There are no excuses for not contacting the person before just lobbing on their doorstep." After all, the resident you're about to disturb may be unwell, already hosting visitors, poised to go out or simply enjoying the solitude.

For the record, I'm one of those people who consider the drop-in to be anything but friendly. If I'm not given notice I may well be sporting a) pyjamas, b) facemask, c) just washed hair, d) a bad attitude or e) all of the above. In fact, I'm unlikely to answer the door if I'm not expecting someone - which may sound unfriendly but it's not nearly as hostile as the commenter who confessed: "I don't answer the doorbell if I AM expecting somebody." Now that's what I call antisocial.

Are reports of the demise of the friendly drop-in true? Are drop-ins acceptable in your circle of friends or should prior appointments be made? If you're someone who is inclined to drop in unannounced, what precisely is your aversion to calling ahead?

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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