It’s been said that we as a society are moving toward a ‘sharing economy.’ That is, with the help of apps like Uber, Spinlister and Airbnb, people can now share everything from cars to bikes to houses with the simple click of a button.
The key here is trust – trust that the driver of the Uber will pick you up, trust that the bike you ride is parked where the owner says it is and trust that your Airbnb host isn’t some psycho maniac serial killer, waiting to murder you in your sleep and bury your bones under the back porch (risking their discovery by a nosy animal).
If it were me, I would bury the bones in the basement and pour a layer of concrete over them and put down an expensive Persian rug to throw off any interior designer who might raise suspicion at the loss of 1-2 feet of ceiling height, but that’s neither here nor there!
What matters is that over spring – excuse me – midwinter break Zach Zimmerman, David Bontrager and I braved the world of Airbnb and lived to tell the tale.
In our hastily assembled road trip, Zach, David and I all wound up outside a small green house in the city of Minneapolis with a chain link fence and a sorry looking front door. We chose the place because it was the most cost-effective housing we could find.
Though our stay cost little more than it would if we had camped, in our defense, inexpensive housing does not mean cheap housing, it just means more interesting housing.
We never encountered our host, as all the communication was over the internet. Strangely, there was a tire, a net and a ladder chilling in the tree just outside. Walking in, we knew that there would be a dog or two. What we didn’t expect were six dogs, all barking and running around hopped up on something sinister.
The house reeked of cigarettes, which was ironic seeing as the first “house rule” on the website was no smoking.
Our room was small; homey in the sense that it smelled like our good ‘ol Maple City Bowling Alley. The three of us shared a king size bed (hence cost-effective). There were strange blood-like stains on the curtains and dried puke in the corner of the room.
Coming off a recent horror movie binge, we were acutely aware of all the little red flags that seemed to be piling up, but in the end, we decided to brush it off and go site seeing.
That night when we come back, there was an eerie calm over the house. The dogs were silent.
We walk up the stairs, slipping on something wet, and turn to go down the long corridor to our little room. There was dog vomit all over the floor – not just a little bit – pools and pools everywhere.
Behind us we heard a BLAHARGAFTTH, and a dog whipped around the corner blowing chunks in every direction. It occurred to me that the owner of the house was probably feeding the unsuspecting guests to her dogs! (Which I’ll admit, is pretty ingenious.)
Needless to say, we made Zach sleep closest to the door that night.
Luckily we made it through just fine and with a nod to a strange man whom we had never seen before in the kitchen the next morning, we were on our way again.
In a society where trust in every institution seems to be slipping away, it was a nice reminder that in America you can still trust that a hastily planned road trip with a cheap Airbnb will be an interesting time.