MEGAN MURPHY SCHWAB, a marketing executive in suburban New Jersey, was seven months pregnant with her second child when a friend asked if another friend, who had just arrived in New York, might spend a night at her home to escape the summer heat. Ms. Schwab had met the woman, who seemed nice enough, so she and her husband, Jeff, an accountant, agreed to put her up.
That one-night invitation was immediately interpreted by the visitor, an architecture student in her early 30s, to mean two nights, a surprisingly common error when the weather is steamy. And her first words, upon arrival, were that the color of the roof (gray) was wrong for the house (which was also gray). She drank most of the bottle of wine she had brought for her hosts, then made her way through “multiple” bottles of theirs, Ms. Schwab said.
Overnight, the Schwabs’ 2-year-old son got sick. He cried much of the night. The guest, coming down the next morning dressed in her hostess’s clothing, which she had found in the guest room, complained that the crying had kept her up. She also complained that the clothing did not fit. Mr. Schwab’s suggestion that she might want to wear her own clothes fell on profoundly deaf ears.
When Ms. Schwab returned from taking her son to the doctor and told the guest, who wanted to go sightseeing, that she could not accompany her because her son was ill, the guest responded like a surly teenager, slamming doors, driving off in a huff. This did not prevent her, later that evening, from telling her hosts that she was enrolled in a 12-week program in the city and planned to spend weekends with them.
“My husband and I just look at each other,” Ms. Schwab says. “I don’t like confrontation. My husband says, ‘You can’t stay here for the next 12 weeks; my wife’s having a baby and we have summer plans.’ She says, ‘Well, can I have a key to your house when you’re not going to be here?’ ” Mr. Schwab, thinking creatively, tells her that as a homeowner he is not comfortable with that. If something went wrong when a guest was there and the homeowners were not, he is not sure their insurance would cover it. The Schwabs do, however, give the guest permission to park her car in front of their home for the summer. On Sunday, Ms. Schwab drives the guest to the train station.
“As she’s getting out she says to me, ‘Oh, yeah, I didn’t have time to get to the cash machine, so I went to your purse and took some cash,’ ” Ms. Schwab says. “It was basically everything I had taken out of the A.T.M. the night before, $100.”