The Nudist, The Thief, And The Scaredy-Cat

, , , , , , , | Friendly | June 16, 2020

I’m in my mid-twenties when I decide to join the Couchsurfing community and host travelers visiting my city. For those of you who don’t know Couchsurfing: it’s a platform through which one can find a place to stay with a local when travelling instead of staying at a hotel. It’s a bit like Airbnb, but unlike Airbnb, you don’t have to pay for the room. Still, many guests bring a small gift from their country or hometown, cook dinner, or invite the host to a few drinks at a local pub to show their gratitude.

I’m still a university student living in a shabby flat, but it’s in the city centre and I have a small living room and an air mattress I can offer to surfers. 

Most of the time, it’s a fun experience and the people I meet are great, but sometimes… well. Below are some of the stranger things that have happened to me while hosting surfers.

One time, I host a young woman from East Asia who is traveling Europe and requests to stay at my place for two nights. When she arrives at my place, she jumps at the sight of my dog, who she didn’t expect to be there, even though two of my three profile pictures are photos of my dog and I mention him several times in my profile.

She is obviously scared of dogs, so I ask her if she will be okay staying at my place and offer to help her find a new host if she wants to stay somewhere else. She says it’s fine, but for the two and a half days she stays with me, I have to call my dog and hold him by his collar whenever she needs to go to the bathroom or the kitchen because otherwise, she won’t leave the living room.

But of course, she doesn’t call me when she has to leave the room because that would be too simple. No, she opens the door, sticks out her head to look around, shrieks when she sees my dog, who likes to sleep on the tiles in the hall because it’s summer and really hot outside, and quickly closes the door again.

After a few seconds, she opens the door again and repeats the whole procedure. She keeps doing this until I notice her desperate attempt to leave the living room — which sometimes takes a few minutes — and call my dog.  

In the morning before I go to work, she asks through the closed door if I can lock the dog up in the bedroom during the day, so she feels safe. I politely refuse and suggest she go out and do some sightseeing or shopping while I am at work, which she does. 

Another time, I host a German university student who is visiting my city to attend a conference. She seems nice and normal when she arrives, and we have a very passionate conversation about traveling, literature, and philosophy over a glass of wine when she returns from the conference.

The next morning, I enter my living room and find her taking at least five of my books off my bookshelf and stuffing them into her luggage. When I ask her what she is doing, she simply replies, “Oh, you told me about those books last night and got me totally interested, so I wanted to read them, too.”

She isn’t even embarrassed about getting caught stealing my books and just sits there as I take them out of her suitcase and place them back on the shelf. I then stand next to her until she finishes packing, making sure nothing else catches her interest.

I also host an architecture student from Southern Europe, who is a very polite and respectful guest. It’s the afternoon of the third day of his stay and I want a cup of coffee. On my way to the kitchen, I walk past the living room door, which is wide open, and I decide to offer him a cup of coffee, too.

But when I take a look into the room, I see my guest sitting on the couch wearing only boxer briefs, a towel placed around his neck, his hair still damp. A bit embarrassed, I quickly turn around and apologize for barging in on him like that and explain that I came to ask if he wanted some coffee. He says he would love some coffee and I go to the kitchen, my face red like a firetruck.

About ten minutes later, I return to the living room with two coffees, expecting him to be dressed by now. This time, I ask if it’s okay to come in before entering — just to be safe. He tells me to enter and… he’s still in the same spot wearing nothing but boxer briefs. He thanks me for the coffee and, before I can retreat, starts a conversation about how much he liked one of the museums I recommended.

So, there I am, awkwardly standing in the middle of my tiny living room, having a cup of coffee and a conversation about expressionist art with a naked stranger sitting on my couch.

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Age Is Just A Number; Maturity Is Everything

, , , , , | Friendly | June 15, 2020

My family — my husband, our three-year-old son, and me — are flying across Canada to visit extended family. We were able to upgrade our seats to first-class for a really reasonable rate at the last minute. We’ve got a big bag of stuff to keep our son entertained on the flight. We know; babies and little kids are not always the best travellers.

We get settled in and another family boards right after us. The parents are in their fifties or so, and their three kids are in their twenties. They take one look at my son, who’s sitting quietly while I read him a book, and start complaining. Loudly. They’re saying things like, “Oh, great! I thought this was supposed to be first-class!” They’re trying to engage the other first-class passengers, who are mostly looking uncomfortable that we can clearly hear these people complaining about us.

As soon as the plane takes off, this other family starts ordering drinks. And more drinks. First, they start talking and joking in increasingly loud voices. Then, they start bickering, shouting across the aisles at each other. They are the noisiest passengers I’ve ever been stuck with. 

Our three-year-old son, meanwhile, was quiet and calm the whole flight. He watched cartoons, ate snacks, and played with his toys. Model flyer.

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Like Mother, Like Son

, , , , , , | Friendly | June 15, 2020

I’m at a large animal-themed amusement park. I’m near a structure of wooden poles and suspended ropes with monkeys living on it when I happen to overhear a small boy talking to his mother, who’s totally absorbed in her phone.

Boy: *Pointing at monkeys* “Mommy, look! N*****s!”

Mom: “Huh? What was that?”

Boy: “N*****s!”

Mom: *Glances up* “Oh. That’s nice, sweetie.” 

She immediately resumed playing on her phone.

I was far too shocked to even speak up.

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Too Bad You’ve Lost Your Inner Child

, , , , , , | Friendly | June 14, 2020

My girlfriend is a bit childish — not as in being immature and acting spoiled, but she likes some things popular with kids and is easily excited.

We’re shopping for shoes we need for our jobs when she spots a huge teddy bear all the way at the other end of the store in the toy section. She races to it like the Roadrunner. It’s blue and purple, and covered in glitter, and I can tell from her huge smile it’s going home with her. She grabs it and carries around instead of putting it in the cart.

We already have our shoes, so we get in line. The line is long, so she talks to me all about the bear — what she’s going to name it, where she’ll put it, hugging it, and going on about how adorable it is. Lots of the other customers are chatting in line, too, so I’m certain we aren’t disturbing anyone until:

Customer Behind Us: “Shut the h*** up!”

The customer is loud enough to draw the whole line’s attention and quiet them.

Customer: “Shut up! Is she f****** mental?!”

Cashier: “Sir, is there a problem?”

Customer: “This d*** girl sounds like a f****** five-year-old! My God, shut the f*** up! No one cares about your f****** toy! It’s for children, not slow people! Are your kids slow like you?”

I realize a total stranger has no way of knowing, but my girlfriend had cancer as a teenager that made her infertile. She didn’t know as a teen if she wanted kids or not, but it’s taken years of therapy for her to not feel she’s “broken” because she couldn’t have them if she wanted. 

Honestly, I want to knock this customer’s teeth out for all of his comments.

Me: “Mind your business! She’s my girlfriend. I like to see her happy, and she can buy whatever she wants. It’s her money.”

This guy kept arguing and insulting my girlfriend, me, and eventually the line of people, who I guess he was mad at for not being on his side. One of the cashiers called for a manager, who asked the nasty customer to leave.

He tried to spin it that we instigated the scene, but some of the other people in line backed us up. The guy argued with the manager for a bit before finally leaving, and the manager apologized to us for the experience.

My girlfriend was quiet for the rest of the time in line, but she smiled when the cashier who checked us out gave her a lollipop.

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Unfortunately, The Penny Dropped

, , , , , | Right | June 13, 2020

I am a passenger on a bus which is packed to the point of being standing-room-only. A petite woman gets on and drops her change as she tries to find a place to stand. I am about to squat down to get it when a man next to me, who has a tiny bit more elbow room, reaches down instead.

Woman: “Thanks…”

Before she could finish thanking him, the man checked the coin’s denomination and shoved it into his pocket. He was so close that he could not fail to be looking at the woman the whole time as he did so.

Woman & Me: “…”

After a few seconds, it became clear that this wasn’t a joke. He had blatantly stolen her change right in front of her. Not wanting to start a fight on a packed and already late service, I pulled out what I thought was the right amount of money from my wallet and handed it over to her so she was now out of pocket thanks to his idiocy.

The guy glared at me, possibly because I didn’t drop any more change for him to scoop up.

Seriously, mate, if you ever read this, if you are so poor you have to resort to stealing dropped change on the bus, maybe you should stop spending your cash on expensive mirror shades, a fancy new iPod, and flashy silver necklaces.

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