Sheltered Meets Extroverts
September 21, 2012 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Your friends scare you with their kindness. Now we're going on a roadtrip - advice?

Okay, so. I am runner-up in a prestigious writing competition and the ceremony is next week, a 2.45 hrs drive away and includes an overnight stay at a local B&B.

Two ladies in my writing group are coming along. They are 20 years older than I, bombastic, wholly delighted for me and would *march* to this ceremony to be there. I am often a little overwhelmed by their generosity and kindness (i.e. when they heard about my success, I was treated to lunch and then another day to tea-and-cake. There were also cards and hugs and they made sure they told any other writer they knew D:)

Anyway, often I feel taken aback at how kind and giving they are, and would hate to do anything offensive (even out of ignorance) on this trip. I want everybody to have a blast! In the regular world, we all get on great, but I grew up sheltered and don't want to miss the obvious when it comes to friends and trips. Often they do something lovely (congratulations card) and I'm all 'Damn, I would never have thought of that!'

This creates two worries on my part:

1) I didn't realise our accommodation would be covered by the competition's organisers. Initially I was asked if I wanted a double or single room and I responded with a triple/family room, or a combo of singles/doubles as three would be attending. I was mortified when I then heard the competition was paying for our rooms and a single plus double were now booked. Do I respond to the organisers and just thank them, or respond and apologise / offer to cover the cost (of everybody? Of just the 'extra' person? )

2) The drive is 5 hours round trip and I need your road trip etiquette. I'll be doing all the driving (I have to give a speech and a reading and want to concentrate on the road instead of quietly panicking). I have a feeling they'll insist on me having the single room. I'm not too sure about things like dinner/meals - should we all go dutch? I should definitely stock the car with junk food though for the trip, right?

So much worry! Please MeFi, try and cover all my bases!
posted by Chorus to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If the organizers had a problem with "expanding" the reservations for rooms, they would have told you so. Since they seemed to have happily made your reservation requests-you're good. If you'd like to thank them, that's very nice, but its defintiely not necessary to call them and apologize/pay for reservations.
posted by atomicstone at 10:01 AM on September 21, 2012 [7 favorites]

Relax, you're way over-thinking it.

1. If they had an problem paying for accommodations for three they would have said something, though a "thank you" is always a good idea.

2. Only 2.5 hours each way? Piece of cake, don't worry about food. You can stop for a pee break and people can get snacks if they want. Your friends are probably assuming you will go dutch on the meals.

It sounds like a fun occasion, don't get derailed by etiquette worries, people are flexible.
posted by ghharr at 10:04 AM on September 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have to give a speech and a reading and want to concentrate on the road instead of quietly panicking

You're panicking already. Stop that. Really, you don't need to do anything to prep for the road trip. Bring food if you like. If you don't, and someone gets hungry, stop. You might need to stop for gas or bathrooms too. Don't worry about it. The ladies sound friendly and full of good will towards you, so it's hard to see how this could go wrong. Also, I will be surprised if they don't bring food themselves.
posted by ubiquity at 10:08 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

First, I would offer to pay for the double room where your two friends will be staying. Second, I would also insist on paying for the gas, but I think there is a decent argument for splitting it 3 ways. My theory is you would be going and paying for gas without these two friends so why not pay now, plus it is a nice gesture. Third, maybe bake some cookies or something, but no need to stock the car with food for a 2.5 hour trip.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:10 AM on September 21, 2012

I read this on AskMe a while back, but it's very helpful in these situations:

It's okay to let people be nice to you.

It really is! You don't have to feel guilty or worry that you owe them something. They want to be nice! Your friends want to hang out with you for lunch or tea, they want to come along and offer support, and the organizers want to make sure you have the hotel rooms you need. This is all wonderful, and you don't have to feel bad for accepting kindness. Accepting kindness is a good thing, because it brings people closer together. So let them be nice, and be nice to them too, and it'll all work out fine.
posted by echo target at 10:11 AM on September 21, 2012 [39 favorites]

1. Nice, simple thank you note to the organizers afterwards. You can mention the special accommodations, or simply pass on some pleasantries from your guests. (They had a great time, the rooms were beautiful/comfortable, etc.) And you don't mention your own gender but either way naturally you'll take the single and your guests will share the double.

2. You can ask them if they want to hear your speech before you give it, and practice. They'd probably be ecstatic to hear and help, from your descriptions. Junk food in the car? Eh. Maybe bring some apples or grapes. Better yet buy lunch or dinner for everyone when you get to your destination. Breakfasts are taken care of, obvs.

3. Big old thank you note to each of your guests after the fact.

NBD, simmer down and concentrate on learning your speech!
posted by carsonb at 10:12 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

sometimes it's hard to let people be nice to you. let them be nice to you!

if they offer to pay for dinner or give you gas money or buy you a tastycake, let them. they don't sound like the type who would offer and expect you to decline.

i know it can be hard, but really, just relax and let people be nice and treat you like a obviously did something to deserve it :-)

if the organizers were concerned about the room costs, they would have let you know, believe me.

on preview, what echo target says.
posted by sio42 at 10:13 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

First, congratulations.

Second, they're not going to take the award back when they realize who they're giving it to. Likewise, these women aren't going to take their friendship back.


Fourth, ask them what snacks they like to have on hand and then go with the flow.

Fifth, maybe think about talking to someone about your anxiety, if you feel like it interferes with your ability to socialize.

Sixth, CONGRATULATIONS! You won something and are giving a reading and that is so, so cool. Prepare to give lots of readings in the future, and be wined and dined and treated well. The life of a traveling writer is actually a pretty nice one.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:14 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can relate to your background--my parents were/are always helpful to their friends and family, but the formal stuff like cards and gifts just weren't their thing. One thing I have realized is that there is always room, socially, for a followup--after you hang out with/ have dinner with/ visit the home of/ or even just meet and have a nice chat with someone, follow up. Depending on what it was and with whom, it can be a text, an email, a card, a phone call, a facebook message--basically use good judgment for the level of formality--but do something to say you had a good time, hope to see them again. Your friends and the organizers can be on this list, and maybe some of the folks you meet over the course of the festivities. You can plan to spend some time doing this after you get home so you don't forget or get too busy.
posted by lily_bart at 10:16 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

In general terms concerning how to interact with these folks:

I am one of these overly generous (and bombastic) people who will give you the shirt off my back. I think we generally know we are weird (certainly I do) and most other people don't do that. If loss of the shirt they just gave you isn't going to cause them to be arrested for indecent exposure or freeze to death in the snowy wilderness, the appropriate response is to say "Thank you" and accept it if it isn't some how a problem (it is okay to say "no thanks, I have plenty of shirts and can't fit another in my suitcase").

The guache thing to do is make them feel rejected and socially unacceptable. If they have good boundaries and are not going hungry so you can have more, it is okay to accept their generosity.

And congratulations.
posted by Michele in California at 10:30 AM on September 21, 2012

It's okay to let people be nice to you - total lightbulb moment!

It's almost as if I'd forgotten that simple fact. Time to chill out

Thank you so much everybody, your perspectives just hit the nail on the head
posted by Chorus at 10:40 AM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you get to say a thank you speech or comment, when you get your award, maybe slip in their names, if they the sort of people you describe they would most likely get a huge buzz out of it. Also most people when they are nice to people really just like to get a simple polite thank you to their face as they do the nice thing.
posted by wwax at 10:42 AM on September 21, 2012 [6 favorites]

It sounds like you're overwhelmed by how consistently nice and generous these friends are. You're being consistently nice, as well, by being their friend and by arranging the rooms. You don't need to get all their meals, and here are some road snacks, and oh, you couldn't possibly buy your own coffee, you've done so much already. In the moment, smile, thank, appreciate - but in terms of reciprocity, once pays for all, adding things up is just crazy-making.
You now get to do one (1) thing to thank your friends for everything they've done surrounding this award, and then you shut up and consider them thanked. For example, you can take them out to dinner and tell them how much it means to you to have their support; or go to the hotel bar and buy a bottle of wine; or give them each a heartfelt card; or whatever's right for you. Important to notice: your job is now done. You don't have to feel uncomfortable about them having "done so much" - you've thanked them. As MicheleinCalifornia was saying, gushing over thanking them every time they do something is just going to get uncomfortable, and there's definitely no need to keep score and try to do little things for them until it "evens out".
posted by aimedwander at 10:47 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Relax, and bring your own pillow to the B&B.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:12 AM on September 21, 2012

Congratulations! It sounds like your friends are lovely. Let them be lovely to you. Have a lovely trip and good luck with your speech.
posted by tomboko at 1:30 PM on September 21, 2012

I would a knowledge their overwhelming support at some point, simply and gracefully. A little speech at the end of the trip to just say thank you would be nice. A big hug and "I promise to pay this forward when I get the opportunity" will make them very happy.
posted by raisingsand at 1:38 PM on September 21, 2012

If your writing friends are less successful than you, then being on your team, cheering you on, may make them feel like part of your success. So maybe they are also getting happiness out of this.
They sound like lovely people!
I agree with aknowledging how much their support has helped you at the end of the trip.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:31 AM on September 22, 2012

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