What is the Etiquette?
From: Ann Zabaldo (zabaldoearthlink.net)
Date: Sun, 2 Aug 2015 12:56:30 -0700 (PDT)
It’s Sunday afternoon.  

I’ve just gotten word that a close friend has lost her husband of 60+ years.  
I’m staring at this sympathy card trying to figure out what words I could 
possibly write that might mean anything at all at this time.  I’m fixated by 
the blank space on the inside of the card.

My phone rings.  There is a lovely cheery voice from a cohouser visiting from 
out of state w/ a request to tour our community this afternoon.  I hesitate but 
then agree to squire them around Takoma Village.  A few minutes later I call 
them back and decline after explaining about the death.  I just can’t do it.

I feel awful — here are these folks brimming w/ enthusiasm for seeing our 
community.  Normally I jump at the chance to show off TVC because I’m so proud 
of it.   People just want a chance to step foot in the community and look 
around a bit.  I know how that is!  In my book … too much cohousing is never 
enough!  I’m for it!

But not this afternoon.  

This has me wondering:  is there etiquette for visiting a community?

One thing I know I dislike is people just dropping by and wandering around 
until they run into someone to give them a tour.  While cohousers are a 
friendly bunch I think we forget that these communities are our homes.

Here are some guidelines (not rules!) I’m thinking about for requesting a visit 
when I’m involved:

1.      If you’re visiting from out of town and think you might like a tour … 
give the me a few DAYS — not hours — to identify someone to give you a tour. 
3.      If you want to stay in the guest room … I need at least 4 weeks notice. 
 Our guest rooms are heavily used.
4.      If you leave a message do leave your full name and contact info.  It 
helps to be able to return a call.
5.      Try to remember that each community has a life of its own.  The day and 
hour that’s convenient for you to visit may find me and/or the community 
otherwise engaged:  celebrating an important event, in the middle of a serious 
work day or memorializing someone’s passing.
6.      And on the other side of the coin … one of the frustrating things I 
find about trying to make an appointment in advance is NEVER getting a call 
back or an answer to an email request.  The phone number or email address on 
your website goes to that great black communication wastebasket.  If you don’t 
want people to visit don’t put contact info on your website.

You might ask:  why didn’t you look for someone else to squire them around 
today?  That’s a good idea except I would still have to drop what I’m doing to 
accommodate someone else’s schedule.  I’d either have to make phone calls or 
write an email and then follow up to make sure the connection was made.

What do you think? Am I being over the top?  How do you handle visits and 
tours?  (BTW we have four HUGE formal tours a year — 30-40 people per tour.  
Plus always happy to accommodate people w/ advance notice!)

PS — I finally did fill in the blank space on that sympathy card before I wrote 
this email.   Now I think I’ll go back to pondering Life, The Universe, Death 
and Everything.   Maybe I’ll ask Siri …

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church, VA

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