One of the many standard interview questions that's almost always asked is, "How would you deal with a free loader?". I have never asked that question nor have I been asked that. But, every so often, life presents me with a situation that forces me to think about this.
I love cooking. My foodblog stands testimony to this. But I didn't undertake to do it all the time and for just about anybody. When I first moved here, we had guests very often. There were a couple of bachelor friends of my husband's and a couple of my friends from my childhood. Every once in a while, we also had some colleagues come over. We enjoyed entertaining and continue to do so.
But there was this one friend of S's and he would land up almost every Saturday. Worse still, he'd end up staying until the wee hours of the morning. He'd pick any time to land up at our place. I began to resent it. It became the norm. If we were in town during the weekend, he'd arrive. He'd gladly empty our booze stock. I'd be dying to spend some time with S after a hectic week or even just wrap up things and sleep, but he'd be there. He'd even specify the stuff he'd want to eat and I obliged quite often. I must admit, I never once got a compliment. Did it irk me? I'd be lying if I said it didn't. At some point, I lost interest. I offered him leftovers. If we could eat the stuff, so could he.
What irked me more was the fact that none of this was ever reciprocated. We didn't get invited for lunch or dinner. One day, I told him to take us out as I didn't want to cook. And he did. But a couple of weeks later, he told us we owed him for that dinner.
Excuse me, please! Owe? What about the countless dinners, lunches and breakfasts? What about my time and effort that went into making them? What about my stock of booze that was depleted? Just because things are inside a house, are they free? Since then, I have not been able to bring myself to entertain him at home or outside. Why should I? He's not a child. In fact, now that he's married, I'd like to intrude on his personal time on Saturdays with his new bride. But then, that would equate the two of us and I can't allow that.
All those meals for him were free. So, there is such a thing as a free lunch. Literally. Maybe someone will become a free loader and he'll have to bear the brunt. Maybe I was a free loader at some point. But I am sure I wasn't. Am I wrong to keep score of such stuff?
This article tells me that I'm not alone. http://www.rd.com/content/my-planet--repaying-the-dinner-party-debt-/. We subscribe to the Reader's Digest and I read this article. It struck a chord, rang a bell and did many other such things. Everybody keeps score and what goes around will come around. No one's getting away without clearing dinner debts.