“Oh, hello!” Says the acquaintance who has just shown up, unannounced on your doorstep. Is this a delightful surprise? Or an irksome intrusion?
I grew up in a small Pennsylvanian town, where 90% of my family lived within five miles of our house. Plus, we were one of the few houses in the neighborhood that boasted a pool. So, it wasn’t uncommon for folks to drop by for a swim, or just to catch up. It was the kind of community where we didn’t lock our doors, and my parents kept a fully stocked fridge and snack cabinet in case company dropped by. As a kid, I accepted the drop-in as a casual fact of suburban life. As an adult who transplanted to New York City in college, nothing makes my skin crawl more.
For the last 16 years, I’ve lived in New York City. The shift from house to apartments is major in a few ways, but chief among them is that it massively cuts down on the possibility of a drop in. For one thing, not only do you bet your ass I lock my door, but also the front door(s) of the buildings are locked, requiring you to at the very least buzz to be let in, and at most dragging me away from whatever I was doing to go to the doors and unlock them all myself to greet a visitor I didn’t ask for. Some New Yorkers have doormen who can do the dirty work of turning away those who’d dare to pop by unexpected. But sometimes these dapper dudes can be dodged, and then you peek through your peephole to the sheer shock of a
disruptor visitor who thinks they have the right to your time.
Now, admittedly, I work from home. So drop ins have the added irritation of being a distraction to my work. But even when I go home to visit my folks, I now cringe at the surprise visit. It assumes that your schedule and privacy aren’t as important as your desire to see them. Because whether I was planning on writing a masterwork of feminist film theory or was looking to binge watch Unsolved Mysteries in my underwear, that’s my time. So, I no longer see drop ins as a charming element of suburban life, but a rude intrusion that makes me want to bust out Maxine Waters:
But what say you? Weigh in on drop ins below. Are they a charming surprise? A vexing distraction? Does it depend on who drops in? Or when? Or how? Sound off.