Over the past five weeks of working in a hostel, I have met many people. They have been young and old and from countries all over the world. Many have turned out to be amazing human beings who I've formed strong friendships with, but others... haven't been so great. As you probably have guessed based on the heading of this post, I am about to write about two individuals that fall into the latter category. During my final week, two particular individuals arrived that made me want to tear my hair out and smash my head against a table on multiple occasions.
They weren't the first obnoxious guests we've had so far. Every few days, there seems to be some belligerent group of 19-year olds on gap year that feel like they can treat the place like their own personal playground just because they have a trust fund. But while these groups are terrible, they're usually easy enough to control if you stand your ground and speak loud and firmly as you would to a misbehaved child. But these two guests were different. They were not 19 year olds on gap year. In fact, they couldn't be further from it. These two guests were old men in their 70s.
The first one stumbled in mid afternoon, supported by the taxi driver he was surprisingly able to hail. How he found our hostel, I do not know (it is likely he does not know either). But one way or another, here he was at the reception desk during my shift. He began speaking to me in Polish, but unfortunately, despite my ancestry, I could not understand. I asked if he knew English. He did not. I asked if he knew Russian and he said "Немного. Лушче чем Англиский." (Somewhat. Better than English). He then explained his situation, words slurred and Russian worse than mine, but I was able to understand that he wanted a bed for the night (it was about 4:30 in the afternoon). I showed him our room options and upon making his decision, I asked for his passport or ID in order for me to make the reservation. That's when things started to get problematic.
He had neither. As he explained, he had been out drinking since the previous evening (again, keep in mind that it's 4:30 in the afternoon) and ended up losing them both. He had no idea which places he had been to nor where he could have lost them. Nonetheless, I called the owner and we checked the guy in for one night. He was clearly in no condition to go back outside and, surprisingly enough, actually had enough money for the stay. It was an awkward situation, but since he seemed on the verge of passing out, I assumed he would just go to bed and leave the next morning and go to the Polish embassy to try and recover his passport... But that didn't happen. He didn't go to bed. Instead, he just awkwardly stood around, and stared at people without speaking.
One girl went into the kitchen to make food. He followed and stood there staring. She asked if there was something he needed or wanted. He shook his head but remained there, just staring at her until she left the room. Later on, a guy was hanging up laundry and again he walked over and started staring, all the while continuing to pound vodka like it was water. All social cues seemed to fly right past this man, as guests became continually more and more uncomfortable. It felt like dealing with a child (albeit a very drunken child with poor hygiene), but I reassured myself that it would all be over within 24 hours. But unfortunately, it was not... He stayed for five days.
Not once did he leave, nor did he ever make any attempt to go to the embassy in order to recover his documents. He just awkwardly lingered and hovered around people, refusing to engage in conversation. Why? I have absolutely no idea. Nor do I care to know just as long as nothing like this happens again.
And that brings me to the second guest. Like the first man, this guy also had to be at least 70, but their personalities (despite both being terrible) couldn't have been more different. Unlike the first guy, this man was incredibly loud, constantly shouting at everyone all the while trying to hit on girls approximately 1/4 his age. He wanted to be the center of attention, and would not relent no matter what was going on, all the while treating the whole staff as if we existed for the sole purpose of serving him.
Busy ordering a taxi for a different guest to get to the airport? Not now! He demands you make him tea.
Counting the money and balancing the books for the next shift? Forget it! He wants you to translate his creepy messages for some 19-year-old.
Trying to make an important call to the manager over the phone? Not anymore because he wants to know where he can buy a gun. (Yes, he actually asked this twice. It was terrifying.)
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, this guy also spoke no English and only knew some Russian as a second language. So when he found out that I knew some Russian, he got the wonderful idea that I should be his personal translator and therefore neglect all other duties at the hostel. Literally every ten minutes, I'd hear this big, booming voice shout " Переводи" (Translate!) from across the room. Most of the time it was to translate some bizarre pick up line he had for one of the girls who he was simultaneously trying to get to do vodka shots with him, so naturally I refused his translation demand. Unfortunately though, like a stubborn child, he didn't give up, thus making the whole evening incredibly awkward for everyone.
Thankfully, the second guy left after one day. Maybe he realized that picking up young girls wasn't as easy as he first thought (granted being an abrasive, belligerent, septuagenarian did not help his cause). But as I said, there were still four more days of Mr. Linger (the other old guy). I'd wake up in the morning and find him standing in the common-room, drunkenly staring at things, and despite trying multiple times to explain how he could go to the embassy and recover what he lost, he never tried. It was like he was incapable of perceiving outside information. But eventually though, he clashed one too many times with the owner of the place and had to leave. Comfort and tranquility was finally restored to the hostel.