If you aren’t familiar with the Couchsurfing organization, it’s a network of people who offer couches to sleep on while traveling, or are looking for couches to sleep on, or both. I tried offering a couch while living in Kentucky, and with the exception of one fabulous couple, the Couch surfers were uniformly weird. One woman, a German magician, requested a bed; the request sounded really interesting, so I inquired about the dates she needed.
“Hello, I am a German magician attending an event in your area!” “Wow, that’s so cool, when will you be here, and when will you depart?” “I have a convention to attend for magic!” “I understand, that sounds really interesting, do you have any idea about what dates you will be here, or need a place to stay?” “I am a German magician!”
She refused to tell me when she would be leaving. I don’t want people setting up camp in my living room- accept my hospitality gracefully and move along your way. So, next. Derby came around and there was some jack ass bullshitting me about the positive energy involved in letting him stay at my house to see the Derby, “NAMASTE.” And I love some hippy dippy spiritual stuff, but come the fuck on. Then there was the Jazz guitarist who wanted to look around my city. I love showing people around my city, it’s a great town if you know where to look, so I told him I’d be thrilled. He replied back, “Awesome, but I don’t like to leave the house before 11 pm.” Uhhh….. sorry weirdo vampire date rapist, I work a day job; get another escort.
BUT- the people in Iceland have been uniformly warm and normal. I am planning a trip to Iceland and, honestly, I have no idea what I am doing, so I’ve been aggressively seeking contacts all over the little island nation. It’s so funny, they aren’t afraid at all. I used to hang out with a guy who operated an Icelandic pony farm, and they had absolutely no fear. There are no predators in Iceland, and like the people, the ponies were unafraid of reproach or attack. Iceland is a very safe place, one tour guide noted, “The people of iceland are notoriously law abiding, but be careful of them spitting their gum everywhere.” I think I can handle that. In a similar vein, the hosts don’t seem to anticipate any hostility or discomfort. They are normal people with a couch to spare, people with masters degrees and self effacing confessions of their quirky interests on their profile pages. I trust these people.
Imagine this after hitch hiking through Texas, where the first question every potential ride asked, was, “are you carrying a weapon?” The driver reliably asked my male partner about my doings, because of course he was the responsible party (?!). I dunno, just another example of fear breeding hostility and isolation. Couch surfing in the states seems a lot like the Greyhound, relegated to those who can’t manage anything else. I would couch surf in the US, I think, if not for my negative experiences with the potential couch surfers. I feel jaded, like a capitalist shark in socialist waters.
- The Rise and Fall and Rise of Couchsurfing (migrantcyborg.wordpress.com)
- 7 Couchsurfers choose to live in a house….. and things get REAL. (whatwouldnaomido.wordpress.com)
- Why is violent crime so rare in Iceland (bbc.co.uk)