They furnished it tastefully and equipped it with all the necessary essentials like linen and basic appliances. Soon they were fielding requests from close friends, relatives and even casual acquaintances who wanted to use their holiday refuge as a free resort/hangout place.
“We barely had time to enjoy our newly-built home when people started asking us if they could use it for a picnic or party. We felt bad to say no at first. Then we
realised that some guests were very careless with our things and others had no qualms about inviting their friends over to use the place. It became stressful and awkward. So we started saying a blanket ‘no’ to everyone at the risk of sounding selfish. Word got around and the requests soon stopped,” she says.
A blogger coined the phrase SARAs (Shameless And Relentless Askers) to describe family and friends who prance around with ‘entitlement spoons dangling from their mouths’.
“Most people deal with SARAs at different points in their lives, from constant pick-up or drop-off pleas to requests for your clothes, your money, professional services or your ear. SARAs regularly arrive empty handed or become the house guest who forgets to leave, habitually taking advantage of your generosity,” says Beena who has had more than her fair share of SARAs to deal with.
Once the realisation sets in that it is a one way street where you give and they take, you will have to send a clear message without any ambiguity or be prepared to put up with it eternally,” she adds.
Sheela and Ajit had neighbours in their coffee plantation area who were extremely proactive SARAs. “They would come over to our home every morning and make all their long distance calls. This was in the pre-cellphone era. They would ‘borrow’ everything. From vehicles to frozen foods to gas cylinders and not bother replacing any if they could help it. They even collected money to pay for a tyre puncture after borrowing and using our jeep for three days. Luckily, they sold their property and moved away although we were quite traumatised,” she relates.
“The only way to deal with a SARA is by being firm and emphatic. You cannot run or hide from them so don’t even try.”
“Create boundaries, be strong and confident and do not let yourself get bullied into saying yes when you mean no. Remember that freeloaders are generally impervious to etiquette or social decency and their behaviour is marked by a bold lack of shame, so deal with them accordingly,” advises Beena.