Whenever I think back on the strangest people I’ve met, hostel memories come to mind. New York City was no different. I spent three nights in Manhattan in a hostel whose name I can no longer remember, but the people I shared my dorm room with, I won’t soon forget. Those nights were spent in shock, horror and fear.
Meet the cast:
The Broadway Starlet – There was a woman in her 40s who had moved from California to New York City with hopes of becoming a Broadway star. She had been living at the hostel for over a month (something you can only do if you’re from out of state because otherwise every New Yorker would become a hosteller in order to avoid Manhattan’s astronomical rent, or at least I would). The hopeful starlet showed me her glamour shot as soon as I walked into the room. I looked at her, back at the photo, back at her – the face in front of me no longer matched the portrait. The woman in the photo had youth, ambition, vivacity, and a hopeful glimmer in her eye. That was all gone.
The hopeful starlet seemed kind enough at first. She even attempted small talk, but that all changed after our first encounter. From then on she would approach me in fits of anger for leaving my things someplace she had not deemed appropriate. (I’m not that messy!) My suitcase could not be by the window because that was her spot, and my bag could not be on the floor because that was her spot, and my towel had to be hung on a certain side of the bed… Woman! I blame in on stress; waiting for a call back must clearly be mentally exhausting.
The Scandinavian Party Animals – Then there were the two Swedish girls; one working as an au pair for a wealthy couple in upstate New York, the other visiting from Stockholm. This was their weekend to live it up in the Big Apple! I can’t say I saw very much of them. They were usually getting ready to go out by the time I was returning to the hostel for the night. Scandalously clad, their skirts grew shorter, their heels wobblier, and their makeup thicker as the weekend progressed. But they managed to stumble in quietly every morning, so they were okay in my books.
The Sleep Boxer – There was a mysterious woman who simply appeared in the dorm room one night. The area surrounding her bunk bed was littered with grocery bags stuffed with personal belongings. Her appearance was questionable, I mean, I wondered if she had escaped some kind of institution… She had a lot of internal turmoil which would manifest itself in the form of full-fledged panic attacks in the wee hours of the morning. It would start out with a little tossing and turning, perhaps a little muttering, but these sessions would escalate into bloody screams and boxing moves that would give Mike Tyson a run for his money.
While I lay terrified in the bunk adjacent and above this woman, the Broadway Starlet would jump into action. It would start with an innocent ‘wake up honey, you’re dreaming’ (strange to hear her use the word honey after the verbal attacks directed towards me), and when that didn’t work she would try to shake the woman awake while hollering ‘Shuuut uuup!’
Sweet heavens, who am I sleeping with?
The Furry Creatures – And no New York City establishment would be complete without the addition of a cute little rodent, or an entire family of them… Further peeking under the bunk beds revealed several mouse traps which had previously gone unnoticed. When I informed the receptionist about the little creatures running about in the room, he merely shrugged his shoulders and replied, “this is New York.” He returned back to his work without so much as a glance; I had been dismissed. Thank you kind sir, don’t sweat the little stuff.
There were so many things to do in New York City and it was great to see the city where my parents met as teenagers, but I was glad to trade my sleeping companions for the safety of my own bed.
Farewell New York!
Have you shared a dorm room with any strange characters?
Go on, I want to hear about them.