Dear Urban Diplomat: Is it rude to show up at a friend’s place unannounced?

Dear Urban Diplomat: Is it rude to show up at a friend’s place unannounced?

The drop-in is no big deal in the Kawarthas, where we’re from, but I’m getting the impression that it’s unwelcome in the big city

My wife and I just moved to Toronto from the Kawarthas. As it happens, we have friends who live a few streets over, so we’ve started showing up at theirs unannounced. Such behaviour is quite routine where we’re from, but I’m getting the impression that it’s not welcome in the big city.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My wife and I just moved to Toronto from the Kawarthas. As it happens, we have friends who live a few streets over, so we’ve started showing up at theirs unannounced. Such behaviour is quite routine where we’re from, but I’m getting the impression that it’s not welcome in the big city. Every time our friends open the door, they seem a bit confused, and they rarely invite us in. Is the drop-in dead? Should I start texting ahead of time?
—Space Invader, Bloor West Village

The drop-in is still a thing, but people’s comfort levels vary. Maybe your friends are neatniks who like to tidy up for guests. Whatever their reason, they’ve given you a clear signal. Why not act on it? Texting them beforehand is a good way to assess the situation. You’ve already narrowed the distance between you and them by 150 kilometres. No need to overdo it.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
Recently, my son’s best friend’s parents invited us to their cottage. The thing is, I’m a city girl. Mosquitoes, sticky s’mores and driving three hours only to pack up and head back 36 hours later do not appeal to me. So I lied and made an excuse on behalf of my family. Despite my antisocial efforts, these lovely people have invited us once more. I want my son to have new experiences, but won’t he get plenty of them in the city? Please advise.
—Freak of Nature, Little Italy

Does your son want to go? If it’s not important to him, tell the parents you’re not outdoorsy folk and make it up to everyone by hosting a barbecue in the city. But, if he’s into it, suck it up and go. And while you’re there, feel free to confess your aversion to Friday nights on the 400. If you’re lucky, they’ll take the hint and offer to bring your kid without you next time.


More Urban Diplomat

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I’m a client rep for a start-up with a work-from-anywhere policy. I like the flexibility, but lately people have been taking advantage of the system. One of my teammates, for example, keeps asking me to cover him when he’s out walking his dog. He often vanishes only to pop back online hours later with a “Sorry and thank you!” note for me. Then he repeats the cycle. The extra work—not to mention the lack of respect—is stressing me out. What should I do?
—Remote Controlled, Deer Park

Your digital deskmate is indeed abusing his privileges, but it’s your kindness that’s enabling him. So, before you take your gripe up the chain, give him a chance to change his ways. Be firm: tell him you’re too busy to keep covering for him. (Even if you weren’t swamped, he’s not your boss.) Then press the mute button on your notifications and let him do his job.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
My buddies and I have gone camping every summer since university. We cook hot dogs, drink beer, pretend we can play guitar and sometimes fish. This year, one of our crew keeps threatening to bail if we light campfires because, like Doug Ford, he believes that they are the root cause of all these wildfires. While I empathize with my guy not wanting to worsen the disaster, I’m not okay with his refusal to acknowledge, you know, the climate crisis! His unscientific perspective disturbs me. How do I approach such an incendiary issue?
—Heated Debate, New Toronto

In a way, you’re both wrong. While the climate crisis is indeed the ultimate culprit behind the current wildfires, when it’s dry out, campfires (particularly ones lit by beer-chugging buddies) can in fact lead to wildfires. Before you head out, check if there’s a ban when and where you plan to camp. If the answer is yes, you can’t light a fire anyway. But you can take advantage of the opportunity to educate your friend about climate change. Share a few scientific articles on the subject, have a civil discussion and try to bring him around. If he’s a deep denier, your efforts may be in vain, but at least you won’t be adding fuel to the folly.


Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at [email protected].