Dear Annie: I was going out of town on business for a week, and a couple I know jumped at the chance to house sit. I offered to let them stay at my place in exchange for taking care of my cat. I asked in advance what staples they would want, so they wouldn't have to shop immediately after their arrival. I was happy to provide these items. I even bought extra treats.
When I returned a week later, my kitchen pantry was bare, my fridge was totally cleaned out and there was no toilet paper, shampoo, moisturizer or laundry detergent. I don't know how they could have used so much in seven days. I live alone and know what I keep on hand, and it is a little annoying to run out of things in the middle of cooking or taking a shower.
What am I expected to provide? Should they replace items they use up? When an item is ruined and no mention of it is made, should I say something? Is it acceptable to ask the sitters to leave a list of the items they used? Would it have made a difference if they house sat for a longer period of time? -- Just Wondering.
Dear Wondering: Although there is no hard-and-fast rule, it makes sense to put certain things in writing.
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Create a folder with the important information, including how to reach you, a contact number for a neighbor or friend in case of emergency and details about how to take care of pets and plants. Then print up a basic agreement stating whether or not they can bring people into your home; what items you do not want them to touch (including things like moisturizer, etc.); which rooms are off-limits; where to put the trash and recycling; whether or not they can use your car; how to access the laundry machines and any other specific instructions, including replacing used-up necessities if you so choose, and that they are responsible for broken or damaged items. If they stay longer, you may need to work out the details regarding mail delivery, heating and air-conditioning, etc. Each of you should sign this and keep a copy.
Be sure the sitters have clean linens and towels, space in the closet and dresser for their things, and enough food for at least a day or two. Lock up your valuables and keep a list of the things in your house. Make sure other people know that you will be out of town and that these people are house-sitting. And yes, if they ruined something, you can ask them to compensate you.
Dear Annie: I love your advice and almost always agree with you. But "Tired of Sex, So Blame Me" said her husband is sexually selfish and was like that in his 20s and 30s. She says sex is still all about him.
If he was sexually selfish in his 20s, why did she marry him? And if she was willing to marry him knowing this, what on earth makes her think he would change? Your advice was sound, but I also think she needs to accept some of the responsibility for her current situation. -- B.
Dear B.: We agree that too many spouses marry with the unrealistic expectation that the partner will change. But we also know that it serves no purpose to chastise someone for a poor decision made 30 years ago.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at creators.com.