I’ve been a proud member of the Couchsurfing for community for more than 5 years, and had some of the best times of my life as a result of it, both as a host and a surfer. One of the interesting things for me has been watching Couchsurfing grow from a small community to the huge site it is today. For the most part I think it is great, although as with anything, there have been a few drawbacks, too. However, a recent request really took the cake. Here’s a (redacted) extract, followed by my (fairly tongue-in-cheek) response:
Yes, that is an employed, (middle aged, Australian) man, asking me – a 23 year old student – if he could live, for free, in my house – for a year.
But don’t worry! It is “only” 4 – 5 nights a week (my maths is bad, but wait, isn’t that most of them?) … for a year… and he will even religiously clean my toilets. Sorry buddy, but your excellence in toilet cleaning ain’t going to pay my mortgage. Yes, mortgage, where the bank owns my soul and I eat so much Mi Goreng I think I’m at risk of scurvy.
I don’t care how clean you are or how often you donate blood (this was pointed out later in the message), what I really want to know is in what parallel universe is it okay to ask to live for free in a total stranger’s house, and in a casual tone like it’s a totally reasonable request? ‘Hey there, internet buddy, how about giving me eight grand worth of accommodation for nada? But hey, I like post-Mughal history!’ (Yes, he actually said that like it was a mitigating factor in his brazenness, but unfortunately, I don’t have the faintest idea when, who, or what Mughal was).
Super sorry, but just because I like to share an occasional drink with some cool people from around the world and offer them a spot on my couch for a couple of days (even those who are new to Adelaide and waiting for permanent accommodation!), does not mean I’m comfortable with some random dude settling in as a permanent tenant and hanging his nicely washed undergarments on my balcony a few days a week.
Alright so this is a “horror story”, and of course there’s always going to be a few people out there who push boundaries. However, all jokes aside, I have noticed an increase in the amount of people who I feel are acting against the spirit of Couchsurfing and putting hosts in uncomfortable positions where they feel taken advantage of. Sadly, I have even spoken to some long-term hosts who have decided to stop using the site because of it.
So, in order for us all to continue enjoying what is a really great community, let’s all take a moment and think about what is reasonable before we hit the ‘request’ button!
Agree? Disagree? Have an experience to add? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.