There have only been two times in my life where I’ve slept with a 7” hunting knife against my chest. One of those times was when my hotel was broken into at 2:00am by thieves in Papua New Guinea, and the other was last night In Thunder Bay, Ontario. It’s often as a traveler to find yourself being accommodated by all kinds of people varying between good, bad, and plain crazy. I can honestly admit I’ve been overly lucky with the people and strangers who have offered up their houses and hospitality in the past to accommodate me in their homes and treat me like family but luck only gets a man so far before he finds himself on the doorstep of a chick who is bat shit crazy.
Now before I start to tell you about the revealings of yesterday and last night let me just back up a step to introduce my situation and how I got there. Traveling nowadays is made fairly easy and affordable with the internet offering social media sites specifically angled at free accommodation for travelers. Such sites in particular include the most popular couchsurfing.org which can be used for anything from big group meetings, having coffee one on one with a stranger, to offering a spare bed or room in your house to save on otherwise pricey hotels. Since starting this trip I’ve been introduced to another online site called warmshowers.org which is specifically catered towards touring cyclist who need a place to do a laundry, have a meal, and refresh before continuing on. So far I’ve had nothing but good luck with these hosts I’ve found on these sites, one of which in British Columbia was so nice I spent a week and half renovating a bathroom for them. So partially from being a male and the chances of being raped are less frequent and the good history of previous couches and houses I’ve stayed at I really had no reason to be skeptical about someone offering up their spare bed, but let me tell you after my experiences in this last encounter, I’ll be scanning profiles and choosing my host’s much more carefully from now on.
Four days ago I sent four requests to four different people who were offering a bed in Thunder Bay, Ontario. A day later I had three replies from two guys and one girl. One guy was going to be out of town, the other had family visiting so both were unable to host with no reply from the third guy. The girl emailed me back asking if I used couch surfing so she could brows my profile and look at my references to make sure I wasn’t an “Axe murderer” as she put it. Fair enough I thought as women are more vulnerable than men when inside a house alone together, something in which I never consider often being pretty oblivious to most things and care free about all the rest. Luckily I did have a profile and sent away my info for her to make her judgments but being on a bike all day got me wondering why she would consider a cross country cyclist to be an “Axe Murderer” Personally If I was such a person, I could probably put in a little less effort than cycling across a country to cover up my serial killings but anyhow I still had the 4th guy to wait on a reply if this girl deemed me too risky to host.
In the end I reached Thunder Bay Yesterday morning with a reply from the girl telling me her intuition is usually right and sent me on her address, still with no reply from the third guy. Having no other option and no real reason to not accept her hospitality I peddled on over to her house with nothing on my mind other than to be a little more reserved than usual to ensure the fact that I‘m not indeed a creep or an axe murderer. Little did I know then of how opposites these judgments could have been as I spent the next 24 hours in complete and total discomfort and fear.
The general introductions were pretty normal but it didn’t take long for her personality to start slipping past the mask and revealing itself to me in an increasingly uncomfortable way. As we sat and chatted she became comfortable very quickly whilst she read me the txt msgs between her and her girl friend which were horribly sexual and vulgar. Now there’s nothing wrong with having a bit of slander between you and a friend, and as a construction worker myself, I’m fully aware of the things discussed between same sex friends and generally those things are funnier and better kept between the parties involved. Clearly not impressed I asked her to stop but it continued as she began laughing uncontrollably and then planted her laptop on my lap insisting I read her Couchsurifng profile, and then brows her Plenty of Fish (online dating site) profile which was horribly uncomfortable as she stood above me analyzing my every reaction to her comments and pictures. The only thing I discovered was she was a crazy sex addicted single 35 year old.
Things were getting weird way too fast so I decided we should go for a walk and tour the city and takes some pictures of all it has to offer. Well it turns out her only job is working a soup kitchen feeding the plentiful heroin addicts that littered the streets of ThunderBay, meaning that on our walk to the waterfront each one would run over to say hello while clearly off their face on something while I was introduced to these guys not knowing if they wanted me to shake their scabby hands or stab me with a syringe. After a small walk on the waterfront where she told me she hated children, she pulled the textbook “I’m so hungry, we should eat out, omg I forgot my wallet do you have any money?” Normally this shit would never fly with me but because I was staying in her house and a campground is at least $20 anyway I don’t mind paying for her meal…. At Mc Donalds I thought, plus it would be a nice to get off the streets for minute and out of the attention of drug addicts. But of course she lures me into the most expensive restaurant in town where a guest chef from Montreal was cooking a signature three course meal.
$60 and two drinks later we set off home but not before she walked directly into a door leaving a massive bump on her eyebrow. She was unsteady on her feet and I practically needed to carry her home she was acting so drunk and it was on that walk back to the house I learned about the medication she was prescribed and it clearly didn’t mix with alcohol. She kept making flirty gestures about me trying to hold her hand followed by her telling me to “shut the eff up, you piece of sh*t” and must have mentioned over ten times passively that she would smother me in my sleep that night. When we got home I made us both a cup of tea just to calm things down a bit but the computer came back out and she insisted on playing some seriously deranged animated videos of a guy sticking his fingers in his butt. She then put on a video of a naked asian man dancing around with a horse head mask on when she appeared out of her room wearing the same horse head mask which sent my effing skin crawling up my spine. I was already planning my escape but my clothes were in the washing machine and there was no discrete way of sneaking away.
Now this next part would normally be incredibly awkward but given the circumstances it was a godsend. She had been on this online dating site all night talking about the guys on there and how she never uses it, yet she calls this one guy and invited him over for fire at 11:00pm apologizing to me and acting as if she needs my approval and using me as leverage because he had also been to Vietnam, which made me wonder what she thought our relationship had evolved to. Lucky for me the guy showed up and he was normal, unlucky for him, he was coming to see her. He was nice and for the first time that day I had a normal conversation and it took the attention away from me. After he left I lay in my bed waiting for her to go to sleep and making sure she didn’t bring a butchers knife with her into the room next to me. But instead, she sat at the end of my bed for an hour asking me how I thought their date went. At least I know what a stage 5 clinger is now. She finally left but reappeared shortly after sitting on my legs and farting (listen to sound clip I recorded) Finally asleep in the next room and the attention off of me I figured it was safe to doze off around 2 am.
6:00 am I awoke, no word of a lie, with a pillow against my face with her leaning over me and pressing it into my head with a demonic smile on her face. She wasn’t pressing hard enough to honestly try and smother me, more of in a joking way, but none the less not a comfortable way to be woken up. I looked around and my clothes had been dried and folded and placed next to my head without me even knowing, my spandex pants hung from a light fixture in the corner where it looked as if she tried to dress the lamp in my underwear. She sat on my bed and wanted to talk about the guy from last who she met on the dating site and continued to rehearse every single conversation he and I had had. She then showed me the pictures she had taken of me on her phone while I was still sleeping this morning. In her defense I found out she had been in a near death car crash five years ago with brain damage and part of her frontal lobe removed and on heavy meds to combat drowsiness and seizures. Some of the memory loss and sporadic swearing can be explained but taking pictures of someone sleeping in your house roots deeper than a car accident I’m afraid.
There are pros and cons to meeting strangers and risks involved in doing so, most are good, some are bad, but sometimes you just get the one that’s bat shit crazy.