The Hobo Guide to Working in a Hostel

The Hobo Guide to Working in a Hostel

Combining excitement with alcohol is usually a recipe for disaster. When you’re backpacking, however, there’s less need to be immersed in complete and utter guilt when you wake up in your hostel the day after a big night. Everyone you’ve met is probably going to move to their next destination within the next day or two, which helps you shrug off the fact they saw you playing naked twister in your own vomit during yesterday’s “quiet night in”.

In a hostel, you can get away with walking into the kitchen in last night’s dress and sex hair so obvious it’s undeniable. You can even laugh about it without feeling the slightest bit guilty, because you’re only going to put up with the raised eyebrows around the common room for the next day or so. You’re living with the adage “YOLO” tattoed on your brain, letting it influence every decision you make.

Trouble is, after a few months backpacking through Europe, I’d been doing it so much that I forgot to turn it off when I settled down for a job with people I would see every day for that entire time.

While broke in England, I decided on using HelpX to pass by time, and found myself a hostel to volunteer at in exchange for free accommodation. Having prearranged it all by email, there was a sweet and innocent young-girl expectation that I had to live up to based on what I had made myself out to be in my emails to the owner.

I guess this is a warning for those wanting to make a good first impression. Or a guide on how not to.

So when you’re forced into manual labour to pay for your bed every night, keep in mind a few things. You’re entering a pre-existing hostel family. Like any group, to gain acceptance into their gang, you’re going to have to go through initiation. Expect the first night out as your make it or break it opportunity. This sounds cruel, but the owner of the hostel I worked in actually admitted that he’s fired people after their first night out. Again, my life-guiding motto persists to never fail. Dog eat dog world, yo.

Don’t under estimate your opponents
Your to-be co-workers have hustled all the newbies. They’re professionals at ensuring you make a doozy of yourself. Playing it innocent lasted a total of three hours before pouring vodka down my throat and letting them peer pressure me into skulling beers and having dance offs. My advice is to try stay half-sober while being forced into these things to avoid attempting the worm and in result looking like you’re having an epileptic fit.

Don’t have sex on the first night
For two reasons: they’ll never let you live it down, and they’re probably going to haunt you with pictures you never knew were taken or make every living moment as awkward as possible by bringing it up at the most inappropriate times (like while you’re Skyping your mum). And the other more important reason: you’re probably going to spoil your chances with any of the other workers that you might actually form a more substantial relationship with. Among the many reasons the owner fired people after the first night included the fact that a girl got so paralytic she let two guys simultaneously fuck her on the floor of the common room. Whoever said first impressions count knew what they were talking about, and unlike you, they probably have their shit together and their life sorted out. You’re not an ignorant traveller anymore. As toey as you might be, don’t let your animal instincts get the better of you.

Don’t claim that you’re an Aussie
Same goes for the Irish. You’re instantly going to be forced to skull, funnel and probably shelve a beer. You’re just setting yourself up for an all-round shit time, trying to prove that you’re either a “turbo Aussie” or that you are in fact a normal human being, despite the country that you were born in. Hell, I don’t even know how you’re going to get out of this one – thank your fellow citizens for screwing first impressions up for you. It’s just bound to turn out bad.

Waking up the morning after “the infamous first night out” to my friend  saying in between heaves of laughs, “Do you even know what you did last night?” puzzled me. Bruises and grazes on my leg confirmed that I had no recollection. Over the dinner table, a wise Texan asked me if I wanted to know what happened. I said nothing, but of course he continued to explain. Apparently they found me on their way home with another worker in the same state as I, both leaning against each other to stay vertical. They took me under their wing to get my drunk ass back to the hostel. It took one very large Polish guy, a five-foot fall, a game of one step forward and three steps back and a toilet break that I do not want to discuss to get me home. Though very embarrassed, I think I passed initiation… just.

Though I don’t regret it, it would have been nice if someone could have slapped me in the face when I arrived at the hostel. Just to clarify to naïve me that I would see the people at the hostel every day for the next few months. If I had this advice before I arrived (or just briefly thought about what I was doing beforehand), I would be plus a few more friends around the hostel and minus an awful purple scar on my leg, left as a daily reminder of my unfortunate childish decisions. Hostel 1, me 0. Don’t let it get the best of you too.

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