Divine intervention?


In my ongoing quest to rent out a bedroom, I decided to give Airbnb a shot. An alternative to staying in a hotel,  it’s a sort of distant cousin to couchsurfing but for pay instead of free. One can rent their entire apartment,  a room or a couch and it also works with a review system.

I spent a long time thoughtfully writing my profile and describing my apartment and neighborhood. I posted my own pictures temporarily but also made an appointment for the free professional photo shoot the site offers. Then last night I received a request from a guy named Jeff for 13 nights which added up to be a good chunk of change. His request was polite but brief. His profile was literally one sentence with one photograph. He had been a member of the site since 2009 but he only had one review,  positive, but so brief it was also suspect. I sent him a message trying to squeeze some more details out of him but he kept trying to refer me to the profile on his business website which really wasn’t telling me anything personal about him. Finally I said in so many words : Dude! Talk to me. I don’t know who you are and if you want to stay at my place you need to tell me something otherwise it does not feel safe. He replied that he understood, through me a scrap about how he was staying with a friend and now he’s in a hotel and he needs a place to stay until securing an apartment of his own. He said he wanted to come see the place (which isn’t really the way this site works) and would be happy to meet me somewhere outside the apartment if that would make me more comfortable. I said okay because in this case, I wanted to see him before I committed to such a long stay.  We planned to meet at the corner coffee-house at 5:30.

I got there 3 minutes late, scanning the room for the guy, I could tell he was not there so I sat strategically center stage for an easy find. I’m pretty sure he walked in the door at 5:40 PM. He was wearing a purple tee-shirt, jeans and sandals and actually looked a lot better than his picture. We shook hands and my snap judgement was “This guy is okay”. He asked me about my work and I briefly outlined my creative ventures. We talked for about 5 minutes and since neither of us wanted to order coffee I figured we should just head to my apartment less than a block away. As we approached the front steps, we heard a voice from behind beckoning us to stop and there sat a car that sprung  two undercover cops who were very interested in Jeff. They said someone had made an anonymous call about a man who matched Jeff’s description on my street. They wanted to know if he lived on the block, and what he was doing in the neighborhood. I offered the reason that he was here was to meet and see my apartment as a potential renter. They replied that since I didn’t know him would I mind if they talked to him in private so I stepped away with mind racing “OMG, OMG, WTF, WTF”…..and one more “WTF?”  For those of you who are abbreviationally challenged that’s: “WHAT THE FUCK?”  Three times. I just needed to say it, okay?

The police asked for his driver’s license and inquired about his car and where he was parked. Meanwhile two other police SUV’s converged on the scene forming a blockade as in ” We’ve got you surrounded. Throw down your weapons and hit the dirt!” I approached them again and said “Let me get this straight? Are you saying you got an anonymous call about a guy dressed in a purple tee-shirt and jeans?”  They said “Exactly” . Uh oh. And guess what? He exposed himself to Ms. Anonymous.  Well, the cops couldn’t find any priors on the Jeff so they took off.

I tried to play it cool inward and outwardly. I thought it was down right comical that something like this would happen when I’m deliberately trying to screen him by meeting first. I told him that I found it hard to believe that he would have taken the time to stop and expose himself, on my block, in a bright purple tee-shirt on the way to our meeting. He joked that at least I know he doesn’t have a criminal record. He also said (and I’m not sure if he was joking) that maybe the coffee-house girl called because she was mad that we didn’t order anything. He didn’t sound like he was joking!

So, we went upstairs. That’s right. I figured he probably wouldn’t cut me up into little pieces or show me his privates after the police had just seen him walking in my apartment building. He loved the place and we spent the whole time talking about the apartment and nothing personal. Meanwhile, my mind was doing a continuous dismissal and denial loop of what had just happened. He seems okay and there’s no way he’s a flasher. He said he wanted to rent the room and I said okay. He asked how we should proceed and I said he should request the dates starting Friday night and I would then accept his reservation and he could pay through Airbnb. He asked if we had to do it through the site since we have already met and could bypass the fees. NOT. I told him I wanted to do it legit, start getting reviews and building a good reputation. He said okay, we shook hands and he left.

As soon as I closed the door reality started creeping back into my brain. Doubt. Fear. Hmmm, when I joined Airbnb,  I was going for a different kind of exposure! I don’t have a lock on my bedroom door. I won’t be able to sleep for almost two weeks. Crap. Why did I say yes? But still, I was stuck on my logic which said that behavior made no sense. My current roommate Tori, is a 21-year-old college student about to move back to Ohio for her senior year. She came home and I told her the whole story. After her immediate WTF response, Tori offered her advice,  straight out of what she learned in school:  Judging this situation based  on what I think is clear logic may be incorrect,  for an exhibitionist has a different logic. It’s a compulsion so he could, very well have exposed himself on my street, on the way to our meeting. If I was a cartoon character a light bulb would have shown above my head.

Okay, everyone who thinks God sent the SWAT team to my house please raise their hands? Angels, The Universe, Spirit guides, call it what you like but the timing of that intervention was unbelievable. Possibly, my mother is even up there pulling some strings for me? When I got the final request from Jeff, I declined, only saying it was too long a stay and I changed my mind. Done deal. Lately all roads leading to the unmet friend are littered with lessons. So I’ve learned something. I walk away from this experience not with fear of Airbnb but more savvy of how to go forward and choose the right guests, based on profiles filled with glowing reviews!


7 Responses to “Divine intervention?”

  1. 1 Una August 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    What an experience – OMG, WTF and LOL cause there is a funny side! But better safe than sorry, so glad you declined the request.

  2. 2 Peter Karpf August 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    The ‘gut’ is usually right and my only regret is not listening to it more often and sooner.

  3. 4 Olga August 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    WTF! WTF! WTF!

  4. 5 Tori August 15, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Your posts are incredible, roomie. Miss you bunches. And don’t give up hope of my email eventually arriving. I promise that it will.

  5. 6 Startare August 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    What an adventure, heh! It’s like a movie.

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