elana: (self1)
[personal profile] elana
I needed to stay in Heidelberg, Germany for a few weeks to do some research for my dissertation. I was booking it on very short notice because I had a lot of marking and other things coming up at the end of the term. Because I would be there during the Christmas market, a lot of the hotels were booked, so I decided to try an AirBnB. I also looked forward to having a kitchen so I could cook for myself instead of having weeks of horrible awkward dinners alone at German restaurants.

I went with an apartment registered as a "Superhost" because I wanted the reliability that came with that title. I was afraid; after all, I was travelling alone.

Here's how our interactions went.

I present all of our messages back and forth, unedited. It will likely be boring at times. I just needed to copy everything here for my own records, to see if I'm crazy or not.

Richard did indeed meet me in the parking lot of the Crowne Plaza. He helped me with my luggage, we had a very nice chat, he drove me to the apartment, showed me around. The elevator wasn't working and he was quite upset about it, but I didn't mind and suggested that we take the stairs. At the end of the little tour, I asked about the laundry facilities (part of the reason I booked his unit) and he showed me that they were in a room in the basement, and would require a special key and laundry tokens. I bought four laundry tokens from him in cash. I was disappointed by this because I was expecting laundry facilities inside the unit, but I didn't say anything. So far, so good.

For the record: there were lots of ants, and while they were quite small, it was kind of creepy and icky. I had to throw out more than one serving of food after finding an ant in it, which is really annoying when buying groceries for one.

He also removed the outer casing on the light switch, which helped to resolve the bathroom light problems, although on my last day it was starting to flicker again.

He dropped by unexpectedly, I think the next day? He said he wanted to check on the condition of the apartment. I was in my pajamas at the time so he gave me time to get dressed. He came by, we chatted about the ants - I assured him that they weren't gross, I didn't mind squishing them, and he should take care of them once I had left. He told me the previous tenant was "a Czech guy" who had spent three months there for PhD research. He told me how the guy bought all his groceries in bulk, as if there were a family of five living with him, and that probably over the course of his stay, he developed an ant problem. I laughed it off and told him I totally understood, that I didn't mind, and that he could take care of it after I had moved out. He told me about the 24-hour grocery store nearby, and I said I had already been there, and he told me I could be a tour guide to Heidelberg. It was very amicable, and then he left.

I was out of the place by 9:10 AM, and we didn't even cross paths. The heat inspection went without a hitch, as far as I could tell.

Okay, this next bit is a bit weird.

I was really shaken by this experience. I try not to think about the recent history of Germany while I'm working here, but after being yelled at by an old lady, I had to remind myself that she was likely literally raised by Nazis. That's the heritage here. I am a pink-haired, Asian-looking, Jewish woman travelling alone. The deck is stacked against me.

I felt MUCH better after his response. I thought that we had developed a rapport. I was all alone in Heidelberg, having to maintain a professional veneer in all my other interactions, and this dude, Richard, was the only person I could turn to about housekeeping issues. He said to come to him anytime about anything, so I did. It made me feel better. But that was it.

So here is the public review I left for him. I had the option of leaving positive and negative feedback privately to him. That was where I reminded him about the ants, and where I suggested that he mention in the listing that laundry costed extra. (I had a devil of a time with those washing machines, and used four tokens on one load of washing & drying, with no means of buying more. I've since moved to a hotel and have done hand washing in the sink with better results.)

And here is the review he left for me.

And that's why I made this post. Because I need to know if I was so terrible - and also so I have something to link to if anyone ever asks why I have such a terrible review on my profile. It's all here, unedited, so you can decide for yourself. Maybe I was a little high-maintenance, but I was mostly just inexperienced. He seemed to welcome the communication, so I followed my instincts and spoke my mind.

Obviously I should have kept my mouth shut.

I came here alone to work, and that's what I've done, for two weeks now: alone in a little room, studying tiny casts of ancient objects, for eight to ten hours a day. My one day off was laundry day, when an old German woman yelled at me about my parents. It's scary, and stressful. I've tried to be strong and self-sufficient and unobtrusive.

Maybe he was just worried that I would leave a bad review for him, mention pests and electrical issues and being surprised one morning in my pajamas, so he was covering his ass. AirBnB doesn't let you view the review someone left for you until you post yours for them. It's a bit of a Prisoner's Dilemma, really.

I guess I just lost.
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