‘I was in the neighbourhood and just decided to drop by.’ You stare at the person outside your door, trying to smile while thinking ‘I am really not in the mood for visitors now!’, inviting him/her to come inside as the polite person you are. Rocking up at someone’s home unannounced is perceived perfectly normal and acceptable in many cultures while considered annoying and rude in other cultures. If you are used to people calling in advance, you will most definitely get annoyed when your neighbour decides to pay you a visit at 9.30pm – unannounced.
‘My doors are always open!’ No, I am not so sure about that. Do I really want to be available 24h? We might say ‘please drop by if you are in the neighbourhood’ but do we mean it? Not really, rather what we are in reality often saying ‘if you are in the neighbourhood, do not drop by unless you have called ahead’. Probably not seen very hospitable or friendly in countries where passing by at any time is common, but for many of us it is a matter of convenience.
However, in cultures where rocking up any time is fully acceptable, there is no such thing as inconvenience or bad timing. Any time is a good time, nothing less would be understood. Perhaps it is a good thing in our days and especially in societies where individuality precedes the collective. In many cultures we do not know our own neighbours and we would not even open the door if they rang the doorbell. We are not interested and we do not have time. Rocking up unannounced is perceived invasion of privacy. At the same time, many of us are becoming more isolated. Perhaps that is how we want it.
Depending on culture and personality, rocking up at someone’s door unannounced would be considered inappropriate, rude, acceptable or a welcome surprise. Which one of these would be your perception? You cannot deem it bad or good as it depends on cultural setting. Those of us preferring a call ahead of a visit have a different perception of private space than those of us happy to receive visitors any time, thinking “invasion” when the ‘drop-by-anytime’ category of people thinking they are never too busy for a visit. Different strokes for different folks.