I’ve been around the world quite a bit, but there is one memory that stands out in my mind whenever I think back to my `traveling days’. To make things more affordable while traveling, I joined a website called Couch Surfing. This was like a small community of `couch hosts’ that would allow me to crash on their couch whenever I was in their city. I was absolutely amazed that there were hosts all over the world willing to host me in practically any city that I could imagine. The theory behind the whole thing was just great because I realized that my living expenses were going to shrink dramatically and when I returned to the United States, I’d be able to pass on some goodwill to my fellow couchsurfers as well.
A bit anxious, I arrived at my first couch host, Paolo. I really wasn’t expecting much but a small couch to sleep on. Once I entered his apartment I got the feeling that everything almost seemed too nice. Boy was I surprised to find that this guy lived on the fourth floor of a beautiful building overlooking the sea. Even better yet, he lived alone in a 3 bedroom apartment, so I was able to have my own room and not have to sleep on the couch. Paolo was such a friendly guy that he basically opened his house up to me and told me to act freely. We chatted for a bit on his beautiful balcony, enjoying a nice cold beer. However, it was obvious that he was quite the perfectionist. Everything seemed to be in its perfect order and in its correct place. I made a mental note of this and made sure to be extra clean in his house.
Shortly after chatting with Paolo, another couch surfer arrived. This was an Australian that looked as though he had been traveling for quite some time. Well, if I wasn’t trying to be polite, I’d say that this guy reeked of body odor and looked as though he hadn’t washed his long hair in quite some time. He was the typical traveling hippy, very friendly but not someone that you would want in your bed.
After getting to know each other a bit more, Paolo took us to a popular drinking spot. The night was full of laughing and partying. All the while, the Australian guy continued drinking heavily. He was actually getting to the point where he was ordering himself a pitcher and drinking directly from it. Regardless of his heavy drinking, he appeared fine and was able to walk home with us, talking relatively normal.
We all said our goodnights and went to our beds. Shortly after is when the chaos ensued. I woke up to a tremendous sound of glass crashing. Of course, I ran into the living room to see what was happening. Much to my amazement, I had come to find the Australian guy completely naked, urinating over the balcony. Paolo was right behind me with a look of complete confusion. Apparently, the Australian had rammed completely through the sliding glass door that led to the balcony and had no idea that he had done this. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. There was glass and blood everywhere. Fortunately, none of his wounds were serious but they certainly looked painful.
Needless to say, the Australian guy left the next morning, very early. I stayed an extra night and helped Paolo to clean the destruction that remained in his living room. I guess that’s part of the couchsurfing experience. You can get both the good and the bad. While most people are great guests, you never really know who you’re inviting into your home. While this situation put a bad taste in my mouth, I still continued to couch surf and even host several great people. I’ve never in my life come across a guest like this again.