Hostels: What A Nice Guy

14 October 2020

It was 10 in the morning so I thought twice before accepting Mike from Germany’s offer to share his joint. Mike just spent $370 for an ounce of bush weed so maybe sharing made him feel better. One of the couple of people who joined us under the rainy balcony was a Kiwi guy called Andrew. Andrew liked to tell stories.

“We bought cars for 200 bucks, drive ‘em down to the beach, fucken drive over ramps ’n’ shit. Once the car’s fucked we burn it up and dump it in the ocean” Somehow Andrew segued into building some sort of army suit where bullets and missiles would bounce off from him and back at others. Pressing a magic button on his suit would deploy a drone which would pick off any struggling survivors calling out for help.

“What a nice guy!” Mike said after he caught his breath from laughing.

Out of Andrew’s imaginary world and back in the real world what Andrew does is take care of a disabled man. Andrew liked to make fun of him. “I leave him to bloody wobble down to the pool and I say ‘see ya!’ and go to the wave machine with my board”.

I was leaving that day, Mike and another the next day. We laughed at Andrew’s stories then quickly started discussing when we would go wakeboarding. Dig no deeper and you get the typical hostel story: what a crazy, funny morning. I share a joint with a German at 10 in the morning and meet a crazy, funny Kiwi. I love staying in hostels. What a nice guy. Instead of wakeboarding I made the mistake of digging deeper.

Is Andrew extroverted? Yes. Charismatic? Definitely; great storyteller. A nice guy? He went out of his way to speak to us, entertain us, make us laugh… But he laughed about dumping cars into the ocean, laughed about killing struggling people and mocked the disabled person he takes care of behind his back.

I hate hostels because the fleeting nature of these interactions is normalised to the point where people don’t even listen to what the other is saying. That’s how you can think that Andrew is a nice guy. Because he made you laugh, he’s a good guy.

Superficiality thrives in traveller’s hostels because most relationships exist only in that short timeframe between when one person arrives and another leaves. It’s rarely questioned because nobody wants to be that killjoy. Who wants to be the one sitting by the fire exit of Cairns’ Kuranda scenic railway station reflecting on people they’ll never see again instead of wakeboarding?