I am a busy person. I live “life in the fast lane.” Or, as the late, great, B B King famously said, “I’m pretty fast myself.” As a result of having too many things to do in too short a time, I am very time oriented. When someone is coming to visit me, I want to know the following information: (1) arrival date and time; and (2) departure date and time. It seems pretty straightforward, however, I have had considerable difficulty over the years extracting this information from prospective house guests. Some of my friends are retired or otherwise unemployed. I work, hard. Chances are, if I do not know when someone is coming to visit, no one will be home when the person arrives. There is also a high likelihood that, not only will no one be home when a surprise guest arrives, but David or I, or both of us, might not even be anywhere nearby, due to our frequent travels. My dad had some dear cousins in Tallahassee who were fond of surprising us by showing up, unannounced, at our house, which was a long drive from theirs. Imagine their surprise, and our discomfort, when they arrived one time during a major bathroom renovation project! There have been many times when David and I have been hosting one group of house guests, who were invited to visit us many months in advance, only to have another group show up at the last minute, hoping to stay in the same guest rooms being occupied by other people! Needless to say, this situation is uncomfortable for everyone, particularly when the two groups of people do not know each other and have nothing in common. I try to be a gracious and accommodating host, but this is taking things too far, in my opinion. Word to the aspiring house guest: Let your host know you’d like to visit, when you will arrive, and when you will depart. Surprises are fun, but that’s only when I don’t have to scramble to change the sheets on the guest room bed!
I think that, to those of us whose schedules stay pretty full, and who are planners in general, knowing important details seems normal to us. We always try to communicate details when visiting or staying with others so that they can plan as necessary. But, over the years, we’ve frequently experienced times when we expect guests to arrive – only to find out they haven’t left home yet. So, we’ve told them, dinner will be served at ____ time only to find out they were 2 hours behind schedule because something delayed their departure. On the other end, regarding their departure after the visit, they hadn’t really considered it or the fact that we might have something else to do. All of these situations created “lessons learned.” Force the issue – communicate, ask about the timing or tell of other events/plans. Don’t leave such things to chance. This is true in the personal arena, but also in the professional arena as well. One area of our work that is constantly an issue for Melissa is when she is engaged for voir dire consultation – to help with jury selection. She asks our clients “How long do we have for jury selection?,” something akin to asking when a guest is leaving, but so critical for planning. “How long will you stay?” indicates what meals to plan for. “How long do we have for jury selection?” coincides with the planning for the types and extent of that process. Common courtesy on such details is not just a nicety; it is critical for planning, organizing, and being able to enjoy life, or maximize work outcomes.