Staying Here Is Fines

, , , , , | Working | July 25, 2019

(My husband, two daughters, and I decide to spend a week in one of our favourite cities for a vacation. Rather than book a hotel, we go through a popular house-rental site, instead. We find what sounds like a really nice place. Things… do not work out as planned.)

Owner: “Oh. You’re early. You were supposed to arrive at 4:00; it’s only 3:30.”

Me: “Is that a problem?”

Owner: “Yes. I’m still cleaning. I need you to come back later.”

Husband: “Couldn’t we just bring in our stuff and stay out of your way? We’re a bit tired.”

Owner: “No, that won’t work.”

Me: “Okay. We can go buy some groceries.”


Owner: “I’ll show you around. This is the kitchen.”

Me: “Wow. Those statues are really… something.”

Owner: *proudly* “Aren’t they? They’re life-size fertility statues.”

(They sure are. Anatomically correct, too. Exactly what you want to look at while eating breakfast.)

Owner: “See that kitchen counter? It’s brand-new. Don’t scratch it! Otherwise, I’ll charge you to fix it.”

Me: “Okay.”

Owner: “Make sure you take the garbage out before you leave; otherwise, I’ll charge you a $50 fine.”

Me: “Sure.”

Owner: “I’m very particular about my things staying nice. If I find that you’ve damaged anything, you’ll be paying for it.”

Me: *thinks, “Why on earth do you rent out your house if you’re that worried about damage?”* “We’ll be careful.”

Owner: “I hope so. Oh, and don’t make noise after 10:00 pm.”

Me: “Why not?”

Owner: “Because you’ll disturb the people renting the downstairs level.”

Husband: “What? I thought we were renting the entire house. You never said anything about sharing it.”

Owner: “Well, you are. And if I hear that you made noise after 10:00 pm, I’ll charge you a $100 fine.”

Me: *sighs* “Your ad said that there’s a pool?”

Owner: “Yes, there it is.”

Me: *cheers up at the sight of the pool* “Wow, that’s lovely. Um, what’s that noise?”

Owner: “Oh, next door is doing some construction.”

Husband: “It’s really loud. Are they going to be doing that for long?”

Owner: “Probably. They’ve been at it for several months, and they don’t seem to be close to being done.”

Me: *heart sinks* “It’ll be kind of difficult to enjoy the pool with all that racket.”

Owner: *shrugs*  

(She leaves shortly after that, and we get settled in.)

Older Daughter: “Mom, do you mind if I switch bedrooms with you and Dad?”

Me: “I don’t mind, but why?”

Older Daughter: “I’m pretty sure some of the ‘decorations’ in my room are urns containing ashes of dead pets, and they’re kind of creeping me out.”

Me: “What?!” *checks* “You’re right. Okay, sure, we can switch.”

Younger Daughter: “I’m going to go and use the pool. I don’t mind if it’s noisy.” *comes back a few minutes later* “Never mind.”

Me: “What’s wrong?”

Younger Daughter: “[Owner] is doing some work in the garden shed, and she keeps glaring at me.”

Me: “She’s still here? I thought she left.”

Younger Daughter: “I’ll wait until later.”

(An hour later, my daughter goes to use the pool again, only to return a few minutes later.)

Younger Daughter: “Forget it. Now she’s mowing the lawn, and she’s glaring at me again.”

(The following day:)

Husband: “How’d everyone sleep?”

Me: “Well, apart from the fact that I kept thinking there were ghosts of dead pets in our room, not bad.”

Older Daughter: “Not great.”

Husband: “How come?”

Older Daughter: “Well, remember those downstairs renters that we were warned not to disturb? They had a screaming fight at midnight and woke me up.”

Younger Daughter: *looks out the window* “[Owner]’s back, and she looks pissed. It’s going to be hard to relax when she’s always around and looking like she hates us being here.”

(That was a lousy vacation. In case you’re wondering, none of that “don’t do [thing] or else I’ll fine you” was in the fine print of our agreement; I checked. And she definitely didn’t mention that we’d be sharing the house. In hindsight, we should have packed up and left, but we were in a popular city and didn’t know if we’d be able to find anywhere else to stay at short notice. We were able to laugh about it later, anyway, and the next time I rented a house from someone, I asked, “Do you have giant fertility statues and/or urns full of dead pets’ ashes? I have a reason for asking!”)

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