It sounds like the title of a horror movie or something, doesn’t it?
Well, it was worse. It was the room I had to live in a hostel—a hostel staff room.
While living in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, I worked in a hostel for a few weeks. I’ve had many sucky jobs in my lifetime, but I’m pretty sure that this one makes it somewhere in the top ten.
I’ve always kind of known that I was a bit introverted, but after living in hostels for three months, and after living in a hostel staff room for one week, the introvert within me couldn’t take it anymore.
After I came back from my trip to Noosa, I received a phone call from my hostel asking if I wanted to clean the kitchen at night in exchange for accommodation.
Because living in hostels is not cheap. And the majority of my money was going towards accommodation.
At this time, I was still staying in a regular room. I actually quite liked it there. At the time, it was only one other girl living the room with me for a few days. I was grateful for the quiet and the privacy and enjoyed it while I could because I knew that it wouldn’t last forever.
Cleaning the kitchen wasn’t the hardest job in the world, but it also wasn’t easy. The hours were late: I’d start 10:30 p.m.-10:45 p.m. and if I was lucky, I’d end at 1 a.m. If I was unlucky (if there was a party and someone’s birthday and people decided to leave empty beer bottles and food and balloons everywhere), I’d end at 2 a.m.
But it wasn’t just the kitchen I was cleaning; I was responsible for cleaning two outdoor terraces within the hostel and some of the stairs (yes, some of the stairs). It was a bit exhausting at times and I’d always pass out when I came back to my room.
Five day later I received a text from one of the managers from the hostel asking me if I wanted a full-time cleaning job starting training immediately. I replied with a “Yes!” - not realizing the hell I would be putting myself through.
(But to be fair, do we really ever realize the hell we’re about to put ourselves through?)
I went through two days of training as well as trained someone else for the kitchen night cleaning job before I officially started the full-time cleaning job. It wasn’t a lot of money since I was also working for accommodation, but at the time I was grateful for it.
Since the staff rooms were full at the hostel I was staying in, I had to move a couple doors down to their sister hostel (or as I like to call it, the “party” hostel with drunk, loud people all the time). It turned out that the staff rooms were also full at the other hostel too so they put me in a regular room for the time being, which wasn’t so bad even though I could hear the loud music playing from the bar that was within the hostel.
About a week later I was moved into Room 13.
Yes, Room 13.
I was already pretty bummed when they made me move hostels. I was also bummed when I had to move into a staff room.
When I first walked in, there was stuff everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE.
I’m not even exaggerating.
Also, the room smelled like goon (the cheap, gross alcohol most backpackers drink because they’re poor).
And when I thought that was bad, I was totally uncomfortable around the people in Room 13.
Two of the girls were leaving for Asia for a month, and decided to throw a party because it was their last night. In the room.
Only I thought they were going out because they said they were “going out”. They spent hours (hours!) getting ready and saying things like, “Oh, but I wore this dress three Sundays ago… I can’t wear this! Everyone will see on Facebook!”
I left the room for a little bit and when I came back the girls and some other people who I didn’t know where sitting in a circle on the gross carpet drinking goon. I’ve never been the type of person to join in on “activities” like these and also, I’m not a fan of goon. Seriously, disgusting. Spend a few extra bucks and get an actual cocktail, please. Not every night though because then you’ll end up living on the streets. Because alcohol in Australia is not cheap.
Of course, I was the weirdo in her bed with her kindle. Then someone told me join them. So I awkwardly did. I even had a sip of goon. Yuck.
I managed to slip out of the room for a little bit, again. And when I came back there were even more people in the room. They were all crammed into Room 13, drinking and partying and I was really annoyed because I had to start work at 7 a.m.
One of the girls who was leaving for Asia said to me, “It’s not like this every night. It’s just because it’s our last night.”
But it wasn’t their “last night”. Their flight wasn’t even until late evening the next night. And they were coming back in a month.
I managed to slip out of the room, again, for a few minutes and when I came back one of the night mangers or security guards or whoever he was kicked the people who weren’t living in the room out. Technically, you’re not supposed to have alcohol in the room because there was a bar within the hostel. You’re also not allowed to have strangers in the room. Or have a party.
The two girls who were leaving and some of their staff friends and stranger friends finally went out to a bar. When I woke up, one of the girls sleeping in the bottom bunk underneath me was naked. You guys, I don’t even want to know…
There was also a cardboard cutout advertisement of the M&M’s candy in the middle of the room. Again, I don’t want to know.
The next day, most of the people in the room were kicked out or at least that’s what rumors had it. The room was deep cleaned, but still smelled like goon. Mostly new people moved in, and I thought it would be OK. The people seemed nice, and they were. Well, most of them.
There were 7 beds, and 5 people were living in the room at this time.
A German couple who knew how to respect others (they were my favorite).
And two others – Jessie and Lauren (they were not my favorite).
And me (you guys already know that I am my favorite).
Apparently I was the weirdo in the group for wanting to go to sleep early because some days I had to start work at 6 a.m. and do things like scrub the bar floor whereas one of the guys in my room worked in the café and read a book all day.
Apparently I was the weirdo for not going out and drinking every night like I was stupid.
I’ve noticed that some backpackers spend their holiday getting drunk night after night. Honestly, I don’t care how people spend their holiday. To each their own. And some people don’t even want to go partying night after night; they just do because everyone else is. People are like sheep.
Travelers come in all shapes and form. When you’re living in a hostel, you kind of expect the typical partiers. Yes, I’ve met the typical partiers. And that’s fine. But there were also people who stayed in to read or watch a movie or go to sleep early.
In the staff room, it’s party-goon-drinking central 24/7. Sounds like your kind of scene? Go work in a hostel and live in Room 13.
I just so happen to like to sit in bed and drink tea and read a book. Of course, I like a night out once in awhile. But not every night. And perhaps not the kind of night that others enjoys.
Anyway, two of my roommates (Jessie and Lauren) in Room 13 thought it would be OK to mess with me night after night for being that person who goes to sleep early. They’d purposely wake me up in the middle of the night, shine their phone light on me while I was sleeping or just make stupid comments about me while I was sleeping thinking I couldn’t hear them. They’d even talk to me while I was sleeping.
I’m the type of person who tries to keep her cool. But if you push me to a certain point, I’m going to push back.
It was a Saturday night - whoo-hoo!
I went to sleep at 10:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. and the room was quiet and I loved it (because the room was never ever quiet).
Jessie and Lauren came in around 1 a.m., separately– drunk. I heard Lauren ask Jessie, “What time did Priya go to sleep?”
They both eventually went to sleep, and then around 2 a.m., a girl (Rebecca) asked the night manager on duty to let her into my room so she could persuade Jessie to come out with her because it was her last night.
She comes into the room, sits on Jessie’s bed and talks and talks trying to convince him to come out. She’s laughing and loud while everyone in the room is sleeping.
Finally I yelled out, “SHUT UP!” Followed by a “Get the fuck out!”
“Get. Out.” I said in my most I-will-kill-you voice.
She immediately left. And I couldn’t get back to sleep.
And I didn’t just do it for me. I did it for the German couple in my room. One of them worked at 6 a.m., didn’t get back until 7 p.m. and he had an hour commute each way and he also cleaned the kitchen at night for accommodation. His girlfriend had work in the morning and they were both getting up at 5 a.m. to watch the World Cup. And it was 2 in the morning and I don’t care if it was my day off. I don’t care if I am in a backpacker’s hostel. You don’t come into someone’s room at 2 a.m. and disrupt them.
I never had a full night’s sleep because of Jessie and Lauren.
The next night I was woken up again.
“Priya, how are you?” Jessie repeatedly said.
I didn’t say anything.
“How are you?”
“I’m sleeping.” I finally replied.
“Rebecca (the girl who came into the room the prior night) said she was going to come into the room again,” Jessie said.
Jessie shined his phone light on my face.
Now, what I’m going to tell you next will make me sound like a lunatic. But as I said, I was pushed to a certain point where I had it with them.
So I, you know, threw things.
I threw his things at him, and then I may have picked up the trash bin and threw that at him as well (don’t worry – it was one of those lightweight ones). Later I realized I threw his hair gel and it was all over the place. (What kind of a guy uses that much hair gel?) I’m pretty sure that this is the type of thing that gets you deported. But I couldn’t help myself.
“You’re always messing with me while I’m sleeping,” I yelled. And we got into a huge argument. I cried. I threw more things. Lauren joined in on our argument. I went to get the night manager, and told him what happened while sobbing. By the way he was behaving and the look on his face, he didn’t seem to care. He put me in a private room for the night, but I was already upset. I couldn’t sleep. I spent the rest of the night in tears, and this was by far the worse night I’ve had in Australia.
It was during this moment while crying and not sleeping that I decided to quit. This didn’t mean that I was giving up on my holiday or my dream—it meant that I was choosing my holiday. It means that I’m worth more. It was during this moment that I decided that I should move to Melbourne.
I gave my cleaning manager a week’s notice and told her that I refuse to live with the people in my room. I was put into a regular room, and then had about a week or so left to enjoy my time in Brisbane.
And it wasn’t like it was the greatest job in the world. I was cleaning toilets. I found one too many condoms in the shower while cleaning the bathrooms one too many times. I had to scrub floors. And carry heavy mop buckets up and down stairs. And clean stairs. It was a lot of physical work. However, I think I could have stuck the job out for longer then I did if it wasn’t for the living situation.
If the job sucks and the room sucks, then everything sucks.
I would like to make a point in saying that the way I behaved towards my roommates isn’t how you should solve a problem. I should have reported them earlier instead of trying to deal with it on my own. So if you’re ever in a situation like this, report the people who are mistreating you. If you’re unhappy, know that you have the right to walk away from anyone or anything that makes you feel like crap. You have the right to live your life the way you want to.
Am I grateful for the opportunity to have worked there? Yes. It allowed me to stay longer in Australia, and I am now on my fourth month on my 12-month visa.
Did I have the time of my life while doing it? No.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a manual. You just kind of have to make it up as you go and make it count.
You have your good days and bad days while traveling. But the good days always outweigh the bad.
Have you ever worked in a hostel? Or lived in a staff room? What was your experience?