There’s a stranger in my basement. He’s watching Netflix and eating popcorn and laughing a little too loudly. I can’t ask him to leave. When he departs, I’ll have to make his bed and take out his trash. I will remove his stray pubic hairs from the toilet and the bed linens. I will toss out his used Kleenex.
I am an airbnb host, and this is my life now.
I earn $50 each time I clean up after someone, and we get a substantial break on our rent for allowing strangers to share our house. The $700 monthly discount will grow along with the airbnb profits. The savings could easily reach $1,000 a month.
We rent the place from a company called Loftium, which rents it from the owners, a young couple who just moved to Europe to seek their high-tech fortune. Loftium provides the airbnb furniture — all of it delivered in boxes by Amazon — and sets the rent and rules. We just make sure the place looks good and the guests manage to open the side door lockbox.
And, of course, we eliminate the stray pubes.
It’s a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood, not far from the beautiful 1907 craftsman we’re putting on the market next week. (More on that later.)
The new arrangement is mostly great, but it would be better if there were a locked door and some soundproofing separating us from the guests so they couldn’t hear me belching and singing spontaneously composed jingles with embarrassing lyrics. Oh, and arguing with my wife. It would be nice if they couldn’t hear that.
She’s angry because, among other things, I haven’t gotten around to installing a lock on the door that separates us from our guests, who inhabit the basement. It’s a sliding barn-style door, easy to open. Any deranged visitor could just stroll in, assault us and steal our stuff. The truth is, I don’t know how to install a lock, so I’ll have to hire someone else to do it. I can barely hammer a nail.
The other night, long after our normal afternoon check-in time, five Japanese guests in their early 20s showed up just before midnight, after we’d gone to sleep. They’d come from Yokohama to celebrate a recent graduation.
“Hello!” came a cheerful female voice, wafting up the stairs.
I leapt out of bed and pulled some clothes on, rushing down before they could invade our space. When I arrived downstairs, looking disheveled and deranged, they’d already slid the door halfway open and were poised to cross the threshold.
“We just wanted to say hello and thank you for having us,” said the young woman who’d booked our place.
“We’re happy to have you,” I mumbled, stumbling back upstairs.
“Are we supposed to stay downstairs?”
“Yes, you are,” I replied, trying my best not to sound mortified.
So far, the guests have been much like these Japanese students — perky, tidy, polite — but each of them has left behind at least one stray pube.