Shanty towns or squatter communities known as “Hooverville’s” during President Hoover’s term as President (or back in the day as my son might say) began to sprout up all over the United States because of the fallout from the Great Depression. These ragtag “communities” were composed of people who had been evicted from their homes or their farms. These individuals, labeled hobos, were forced to live a degrading existence among grotesque piles of accumulated trash, made of discarded public scraps of food they had to eat or of various items of value that they could sell. The poor and disposed would cook their meager portions of food in tin cans over open fires, covering themselves with old newspapers while wearing Hoover shoes with holes in the soles. The only scenery was blurred by dust in the summer and mud in the winter as they inhaled the stench from all of the trash and the extremely unsanitary dilapidated outhouses. These poor Depression era hobos, though, are no comparison to today’s modern freeloaders, lazy, selfish people who are calculating in their tactics, and who by no means suffer as much as those displaced victims of the Great Depression.
Yes we’re suffering, and indeed the times, they are a changing, but eating banana peels and wearing newspapers is not the same as eating all of your family or friends potato chips while you watch a re-run of Friends on their cable TV. With today’s economic crisis, many people have had to depend on family, friends and relatives to help them out until they get over their financial set back. However, the thing is, too many find this life of “luxury” very accommodating, and so they remain as permanent guests taking advantage of a loved one’s hospitality. This is no new occurrence, it’s just happening more often today thanks to our lovely crumbling economy, but I, for one, think free-loading is wrong, and it must be stopped. There’s a difference between visiting a loved one and commandeering their home.
Here’s, an example. Several years ago my husband and I moved to Florida. Every year we would come back to New Jersey to visit family and friends. Well, my husband was always inviting everyone to come down to Florida and stay at our house, so they didn’t have to spend money on a hotel, forgetting that we were only renting a small 2 bedroom apartment. Naturally everyone jumped at the opportunity, including his drinking buddies, who came in a car loaded with suitcases and booze. I was working the graveyard shift at the Post Office and needed to sleep during the day. Well, one time, it seems that our bedroom was offered to his drinking buddy and his buddy’s wife, while I had to make do crammed into my two little kids’ room. These moochers came empty-handed and ate as there was no tomorrow. One week turned into two weeks, which looked as if it would be extending to more. I told my husband to kick them out which he refused to do saying that they were his guests, and that would be rude on his part. I was furious, working nights, and not getting proper sleep. During the day, they went down to the beach or explored the area, having a grand old time. The woman did nothing to help me. I couldn’t take it anymore. I called around to hotels in the area and asked what their prices were, and when the couple returned that afternoon, I told them that they had to leave, it was two weeks already, and I needed my room back. The man said he was paying my husband $20.00 a week for the room, which was ridiculous… Imagine thinking that $20.00 a week was going to cover the cost of 3 square meals a day plus my room for two people. No way Jose, has he had to be out of his mind. Well I must say after they saw how mad I was, they got the message loud and clear immediately calling a nephew who lived in the area. That annoyed me even more, knowing that they had a nephew that lived nearby, and I had to be inconvenienced by this pair of moochers. So instead of going to a hotel where they had to pay, they ended up in their nephew’s house. Good riddance, finally, but that still didn’t stop the flow of guests coming and going and free-loading off of us. This created a lot of hostility between my husband and me. Finally, after 7 years of acting like a drunken bed and breakfast, we moved back to New Jersey. That stopped the family and friends from visiting.
The thing is, all of the moochers and freeloaders acted in the same rude, selfish manner. No one understood why I’d get irritated, working, sacrificing living space, cooking, doing all the shopping and being imposed upon for far too long. I suppose there’s a moocher’s guide out there that they all swear by.
The Moocher’s Guidebook:
Law Number 1: Find a nice, giving, trusting friend or relative and arrange a “short” but indefinite visit.
Law Number 2: Convince these marks to become your personal ATM.
Law Number 3: Always manipulate others to get out of paying your fair share, stiff drinking buddies with the check, bum rides, sponge cigarettes, meals and so forth.
Law Number 4: Never, under any circumstances, clean up after yourself. This sets a dangerous precedent.
Law Number 5: Always raid any unattended refrigerator. Leave nothing.
Law Number 6: Never be courteous. Assume it is yours by natural law, consume and destroy.
Law Number 7: Have fun while the marks are working. What are vacations for?
Law Number 8: Make yourself scarce when chore time arises.
Frankly, freeloaders are a menace to society. People that have freeloader problems rightly become depressed and angry. To make the situation worse, moochers often don’t bathe, don’t flush the toilet or wipe the seat when finished or don’t wash their own clothes. What moochers do in fact is use the phone all night, leaving it off the hook when they’re done. They leave the TV on all night and are loud while you try and get some sleep to avoid them. If subtle hints and veiled insinuation won’t work, then throw all their belongings outside and change the locks. The following is my own handbook, listing problems with moochers and ways to deal with them.
PROBLEM: A friend or loved one shows up uninvited, looking for sympathy and a place to stay.
SOLUTION: If someone shows up uninvited, you can tell the person in a courteous way that you were just leaving and don’t have time to chit-chat. The strongest weapon that a freeloader has is using guilt to get what they want from you. Be prepared for this. Don’t feel guilty. Always be leery of those who love to tag along but who always seem to forget to bring their wallet. Always mention before you go anywhere involving a cost, that if the other person has his or her wallet with them. Or you can simply say its best that you go Dutch. If the person then says they don’t have any money, you tell them, ‘I’m sorry I don’t have enough, to pay for you too so we will have to skip it.’
PROBLEM: A friend or loved one always wants to visit you but doesn’t invite you to visit them. Always try to interchange home visits.
SOLUTION: If someone was at your house this week watching the game and eating all your goodies and drinking your beer, then you recommend doing it at their house the following week. If they are uncooperative, don’t bother with them. If they are taking advantage of you, begin to control your dealings with them or stop it altogether. You want to tell them that you are not a money tree nor are you their restaurant, hotel or maid service. You have to nip this behavior in the bud, because the longer you wait, the more tensed you will get, and the more difficult it will be to get rid of these people. Then it becomes squatter’s rights. They have all the rights and you get squat.
PROBLEM: Your relative wants to stay with you until they get ‘back on their feet.’ If they live with you, you have to give them some time frame to get out of your house.
SOLUTION: One way to prevent moochers from staying in your home is to keep the fridge or the cabinets as bare as possible. Hide your supplies somewhere; give them a list of chores to do. If they complain then tell them to buy their own food or they can leave.
PROBLEM: You feel like a maid with all the mess left behind and get sick of things like your guest leaving dirty linens, damp towels on the bed or the bathroom counter.
SOLUTION: House-guests should clean up after themselves. If they are there for one week or so, then they should offer to take the host out to dinner for their trouble. If they plan to return, then tell them that you already have plans for that time and that no one will be home. Try to make your apology seem sincere and convincing as best as you can.
PROBLEM: Relatives will come to your house and stay as long as they want, in order to save on hotel expenses. So the longer they stay, the more resentment builds, which will eventually damage family relations.
SOLUTION: Relatives don’t have the right to barge in because they are family, they must first call or write. If they happen to show up unexpectedly, then take them to a hotel or give them a ride to the nearest transportation. Do not let moochers have the run of the house; they need to help by cooking, doing their own laundry and throwing in some cash. They have no right to take advantage of you to save on expenses because somewhere up the family tree, you inherited some of their blood or your spouse did.
PROBLEM: The guests who won’t leave when it’s getting late.
SOLUTION: If you feel your eyelids are starting to get heavy or like you have a severe case of the hives, start yawning, scratch and get up quietly and in a polite way; mention that you had a lovely evening, that you must repeat the visit at ANOTHER, more convenient time. If you continue to stand, they will get up, at least you hope so, then start walking to the door. If they don’t take the hint, then come right out and tell them that you have to go to work the next day and that you are tired and want to go to bed. My mother swears by the broom. She said when you wanted the company who were over-staying their welcome to leave turn the broom upside down by the door, and you will see that it works. Yeah, right mom, like in your dream, that’s not going to happen.
PROBLEM: The friend or relative who always sponges money off of you and never pays it back or who considers you their personal, unpaid taxi service.
SOLUTION: Just say you don’t mind taking them where they are going, but that you don’t have gas in your car or money to pay for gas to get there and NEVER lend anyone who has stiffed you money twice.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll soon be free of freeloaders. Good luck!