Why ‘Blue Shirt’ is a Dickhead and I’m Better at Pub Crawls Than You
“Duuuude, the craziest thing happened the other day,” Blue Shirt said in his typically slow and monotoned voice, before proceeding to tell the most un-crazy story in human history.
It was day two, and Blue Shirt had already made himself out to be a huge tool. Throughout Europe, I’ve found hostels will often give a free room and board to fun, outgoing individuals in exchange for their smile, natural friendliness and good humour. Sometimes, if the hostels offer one, these are the people who will lead the pub crawl. This is based on the premise that the chosen ones will generally increase the vibe within the hostel and make it others’ time there more enjoyable. This is a premise that I agree with, and people who do this job can make a travel experience phenomenally better.
Blue Shirt was one of these types, except, he had been there for one week and he sucked at his job. I’ve never understood people who are tight with other people’s money. I don’t mean stealing from your employer and dishing it out to your friends; I mean like Blue Shirt, whose job it was to walk around giving out watered-down shot glasses full of vodka and some godforsaken fruit juice.
Never before has a glass 1.5 fl oz cylinder yielded someone so much faux power. Blue Shirt thought he had control over the Seven Kingdoms as he strutted from dorm to dorm dishing out the sweet syrupy concoction. He would look at us with a contemptuous face, refusing us a second shot, despite having done the rounds of the dorms and returning to the common room with a half-full tray still left.
It’s a phenomenon my mate Andy calls the BNOC. It stands for the Big Name On Campus, which I guess is ironic because people who are dubbed the BNOC are likely to have never been big name on any campus at any point in their lives. The sudden and minor power gifted to Blue Shirt by way of his hostel volunteer position had given him some sense of self-importance far beyond its reality.
He was in stark contrast to the volunteers I had met in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: people who engaged and talked to the fresh faces entering the common room and made everyone feel accepted and welcome. It wasn’t until I first hit the road myself that I realised so many introverts travelled. The ability for one outgoing person to reach out to others can lift the mood of a room tenfold, whether it’s a time-passing game of cards or beers in the kitchen.
So it was a Thursday night and the Pink Panther Hostel was having a themed pre-drinks night — something to do with Polish karaoke songs from a very niche era in history. Out came Blue Shirt dressed in a long-sleeved dress shirt he seems to have stolen from a fancy dress box. He wore it unbuttoned so that the singlet beneath was visible; you know the kind that was cool about six years ago? On the front was a picture of a half-naked woman. Blue Shirt grinned when he caught people looking at the singlet’s motif, exposing his penchant for porn with a repugnant smile on his face.
He suggested that we all play a drinking game. Andy and I jumped at the chance to score free booze and assert ourselves as the alpha males by being the best at something relatively pointless. Blue Shirt toddled off to the kitchen to retrieve some beers while we set about arranging the game. When he returned, he set down far fewer beers than required to get a room full of people drunk before instructing everyone to not open them yet. We watched the beers while Blue Shirt fucked around, staring as condensation formed and dripped and left little rings, beer condensation tears. Fed up with Blue Shirts ineptitude, we cracked the drinks and launched into beer pong.
Towards 10pm, Blue Shirt started rounding everyone up for the pub crawl. Having done it the night before, I knew it was expensive and kind of shit. A handful of us had the original and clever idea of just following the pub crawl from bar to bar, saving the 30 Euro admission fee. Somehow, Blue Shirt cottoned onto our plan; perhaps he noticed that about eight of us didn’t have wristbands but were walking down the exact same street as his group of naïve victims. Suddenly, the BNOC was back out to play.
Apparently, the owner of the hostel also owned the first bar. The wristbands were in fact admission to a ‘private event’, which was complete bullshit. The bar was tiny, hot and stunk like cat piss. Blue Shirt was improvising because he didn’t have the power he craved; excluding us for not playing the game his way was the final trump card. He vengefully declared that anyone who entered the bar henceforth would have the charge added to his or her room back at the hostel. Seeing as they had my passport because I hadn’t yet paid, I conceded defeat.
The following night we were amassing in the common area when Blue Shirt rolled into the room, wet from his shower, still wearing the fucking blue shirt. Residual moisture was soaking through, reminiscent of a sweaty sportsman, except way less respectable. He was completely oblivious to how many people he had put offside with his little charade the previous night. A tension had built; a revolt was afoot!
The vibe, thanks to Andy and I, was good fun, and we all figured we’d give the pub crawl one last crack. Seeing as it was our final night, we started to let loose on Blue Shirt, letting forth a barrage of sly comments. I heard Blue Shirt laugh to a friend, “I really need to stop making fun of the people on my pub crawls!” Incredulous at the stupidity that had just rolled out of his mouth, I wandered away with my beers. Andy had also just asked for two beers when Blue Shirt screamed at the bar that it was the one-minute warning. Andy loves a good bargain, and unwilling to part way with two fresh beers, he entered into a test of willpower. Blue Shirt whined that it was time to go while Andy, firing off every insult under the sun about the insufficient notice he was given to finish them in the first place, recruited another pub crawl attendee and together they necked their beers. Andy finished this task admirably, but sadly his recruit vomited on the way up the stairs.
Long story short, just as we were about to leave the hostel for good, we both got offered jobs leading its pub crawl. Unlike Blue Shirt, we consistently got the vibe going we even started a conceptual consulting business where hostels could hire us to improve business and hostel atmosphere (we are still working on this conceptual business model — its results and successfulness are TBA). We were fun, energetic, had games to share with our fellow travellers and were inclusive and non-judgmental (except where Blue Shirt was concerned). We were everything Blue Shirt should have been, but wasn’t.
Cover by Quentin Dr