I peer at my phone, trying to make out the instructions. There are a lot of them. How to get into the house?
Oh yes, there it is. Punch in the code, and enter. I type in the numbers, and nothing happens. What the ...? I try again, with the same result. Is this the right house? I double-check, and yes, it is. On my third try, inspiration strikes, and I turn the big lock after entering the numbers. Success!
I step into a tiny entrance, remove my shoes as instructed, and climb up the steep, long set of stairs. They lead into a living room, and there on the sofa sits a woman, nursing her baby.
"I'm so sorry!" I stammer, looking away. "Is this the wrong house?" It can't be, since I had to enter a code to get in, but this is so unexpected.
"No no, that's okay, " she says serenely. "That's why I give guests the code to the entrance. Are you Miriam?" I hesitantly look back, and realize to my relief that she is bottle-feeding the baby. My mind played a trick on me, conjuring up an image that wasn't there.
"Yes, I am!" I say, and laugh a bit shrilly. We exchange a few pleasantries, and then I ask her if it's okay when I go to my room. I'm a grown woman, yet I'm acting like I'm a child and this stranger is my mother.
How did this happen?
I'm currently staying at an AirBnB, that's how. Last Wednesday I made my way carefully down icy mountain roads for the first leg of
my farewell tour my last days at my old job. Despite many generous offers of friends to crash on their couch, I decided I would go the independent route and seek my own accommodations. I have never done Airbnb before, and I was curious how it would work. You can't beat the price: I'm only paying $34 CAD a night for a comfortable bed in a convenient location.
What I didn't expect was that I would live in someone else's house with them right there, which defeats the purpose of independence. While my hostess is perfectly nice, it is a small house, and she has a baby and is therefore around a lot. Upon inspecting my room, I found a three-page laminated package of rules, which I apparently didn't read carefully enough. When I got home last night, she reprimanded me for not locking the front door when leaving. That's true, because as I told her, I don't know how. I don't have a front key, just the code for the keypad, and I simply had no clue how to lock it. Ahh, but if I had read the rules more carefully, I would have found the instructions on page 2 towards the bottom. It involves pressing down a key while pulling the door tightly towards you, waiting for it to flash (or stop flashing? I can't remember), and then turn the bulky lock.
Quite honestly, there's a good chance that I still haven't gotten it; I'm sure I will find out when I get home tonight.
Other rules include: No food or drink in you room. (I'm blatantly breaking this rule by keeping water, fruit, and some juice in my room. I'm a rebel.)
Hang up your towels to avoid mold.
Conserve energy and water by using them as sparingly as possible.
No loud noises between 10pm and 8am. I was seriously conflicted if that includes the use of a hairdryer at 7:30am, but decided that with temperatures below -10°C, I had to risk it to avoid hypothermia. I think I got away with it ;-)
There is also en entire page about recycling, garbage in general, and what to use in the kitchen, but I have to admit that I stopped paying attention at that point.
Since I literally only sleep there and am gone the rest of the day, it's okay. Like I said, it's a comfortable bed, it's quiet (I haven't heard the baby once!), and that's all I want.
But it does give me the peculiar feeling of being a child again, living under someone else's roof, and "as long as you live under my roof you follow my rules!".
Tiptoeing up the stairs at night, shoes in hand and trying to be as quiet as possible, gives me flashbacks to my teenage years, when I got home late and hoped I wouldn't wake up my parents.
Last night I had a different fantasy: Of having time-travelled to the 50s, being a single woman working in a strange city, and renting a room from a strict matron. The rules, the small room, the shared bathroom - it all fits. Definitely an interesting experience!
Next week I will return to a different AirBnB, and no doubt to new stories. I can't wait!
Have you ever stayed in an AirBnB before? What did you think?