Stiff muscles, a pounding headache and swollen veins. The awakening was painful, confusing and exhausting. Without a sense of place or time, I remained motionless while spinning circles in my head. The party was finally over after countless rounds. I jumped out of bed sick and stormed through the hallway like an elephant. I slammed the door of the toilet and plunged down. Haste makes waste: half-digested kebab shot into my nasal cavity. With shivers I swallowed the warm lumps of puke back in. On my knees I begged for forgiveness, yearned for redemption from all the excesses and sins. It was too little too late. This bucket had to be completely emptied, the head remained down in the potty. Snoring from the nearby toilet ceased due to all my noise. He strolled away after some inaudible mumbling. I continued my recovery in peace, just until the drainage of vomit, piss, sweat and diarrhea came to an end. Horrified I looked in the mirror at a pale ghost and drank some water. While swearing and moaning I walked outside for some fresh air. Oh yeah, the collateral damage of last evening. There I stood while staring at it. Squeezed cans of beer, caps, bottles of liquor, cigarette butts, packs of wine, crumbs, shards of glass, torn pizza boxes and empty bags of crisps were everywhere. Garbage cans were overflowing, the furniture was filthy, the kitchen almost walked away by itself and the floor stuck like glue. Between all the rubbish, a few people were frozen statues in the most impossible positions. Even watching it was painful. One of the cleaners walked past me. As usual, he went completely out of his mind. His outbursts of rage became an entertaining regularity in the mornings. I sat down for a good start because a good start is half the job. And a day without laughter is a day wasted.
The hangover and falling pieces of the puzzle silenced the laughter. A promise made is a debt unpaid. It’s easy to make one on a relaxed Friday evening, especially when you’re drunk and get along with someone. Regret prevailed ten hours later. You fool, you should’ve said no. Now you’re facing self-imposed obligations and responsibilities. Not from a dump or crime scene, but from a run-down hostel. This odd place of ‘all-or-nothing’ was also my home. No wonder I got second thoughts. I knew damn well what awaited me in this poorly run place that’s circling the drain. The absence of fences or cameras meant that everyone can – and did – walk in. The decaying building also serves as a (de facto) community hall, homeless shelter and hangout. It attracts a colorful bunch of (second-class) citizens. They have to go somewhere, all those backpackers, hobos, migrants, alcoholics, glue sniffers, local misfits, nutcases, ex-cons, bike-packers and long-distance hikers. All colors, ages, backgrounds and sizes came through the revolving door. Nothing surprised me anymore, it all became normal. An intense love-hate relationship gradually developed into something that would go out with a bang.
That’s for later. First I had to process payments, allocate rooms, show guests around, keep records and answer phone calls for a day. After a short nap I felt ready for this change of the guard. One of the many. Miraculously the joint always kept on running somehow. That’s why I felt confident, despite my lack of training or experience. Besides, I still had the hotlines if shit hits the fan. Three phone numbers of the former manager, spare manager and owner. That should be enough. I thought. The tasks seemed so simple that I passively listened to the brief instruction, nodded, opened a can of beer and walked off. It was a date with destiny. Of course, it was a lot busier than expected. Everything became a mess. People approached me with (for me) unanswerable questions, untraceable payments or unresolvable requests. I couldn’t access any data, which made work quite impractical. For hours I called my saviors, but no one picked up or called back. Work piled up in the meanwhile, and I lost overview due to the mess. Guests ended up in the wrong or (even more awkward) occupied rooms. It was a bloody embarrassment. I boiled from within: only if you asked the ex-manager some more questions! Finally I received a call. It was the owner who claimed that I ‘never answered’. Huh? She ignored my response and burst out in complaints. With hold-in irritation, I listened to the accusations. Easy talking while she would’ve missed her daily turnover without my willingness. I wasn’t even an employee but a total newbie. One of her guests, to be more precise, who kept her business up and running. Talking trash while failing yourself as the chief, unbelievable. As so often, it was the world upside down.
My mood improved when a flirty cougar checked in. My curiosity was ignited and after work I started a conversation. I had difficulties following her since she was quite drunk. Our attention shifted to others and I swapped places. Later on I went to a notorious disco with a group of drunkards. It’s an uptight place, so one hour was enough. Someone acted vaguely in the courtyard when I returned. The unpredictable stranger was clearly drugged by whatever substance. He finally left after careful and patient attempts to get rid of him. By now I got really fed up with this kind of nonsense and went to bed. In my room the MILF was in my bed, a roommate in her bed. His empty bed seemed infected with certain body fluids. One of our still awake roommates noticed my monologue. “It’s as it seems. Be glad you were somewhere else.” I see. Against my better judgment, I walked to the lounge to crash on a couch, but the door was blocked. As expected. The lust-room was back in business. Goddamn, always the same song on the repeat. I was a fan of communal living: cheaper, cozier, sharing stuff, being more efficient with transport and energy, etc. All benefits I saw instantly vanished. Something snapped and a striking thought came to mind:
Sooner or later I’ll turn my back on this comedy show and walk off silently.