It was this month seven years ago that some random fruit picking types crashing at a ditch-dive hostel in some far away land called Juastrailyuh (south of Mexico, I think) got charred extra crispy thanks to some damned pervert lighting up the whole place like a cheap wicker basket. Hey, that’s fine, I can’t complain. I’ve always said that there are too many young people around the world, doing interesting things, getting in my way, harassing me when all I need is a long stogie and some cheap whiskey to wash down whatever food I may have found in the dumpster that afternoon.
Yes, hostelling brings out the best in a traveler. You and your backpack out on the open road, thumbing your way across the nation, or another nation, or some sort of armpit somewhere or other on this polluted planet we call home. In fact I’ve always seen it as a crock of shit for young kids and gap year types to pretend that they’re doing something useful with their lives before trudging back into the fold of a slow cubicle death while giving them just a small smidgen of fodder to banter about around the water cooler for the decades to come, while they watch their wife age anything but gracefully and their kids and car payments squeezing their annual raises like a perky nurse gets squeezed at a geriatric hospital. I don’t mind, it’s not my life. Those fucktards can have their little adventure while the rest of us maniacs run around into perpetuity, perfecting the art of stupidity in the search of cheaper drugs and angrier hookers the world around.
Yes, you can tell I’m a bit bitter about the situation. I’ll never have that happy little life in another world and have chosen to live my dreams rather than just have that small chapter opened and closed somewhere between eighteen and twenty and then get right down into that business of dying. I often get surrounded by these kids going through the “hey, isn’t this world neat” phase while their parents send Western Union codenames and numbers so they can string them along for a year or so while they hook up with other like-minded naÃ¯ve types seeing stupid things like the Eiffel Tower, Ayer’s Rock, the pyramids, or whatever the hell else is out there, Flickr’ing their photos back to the friends at home, Myspacing all over the place, websiting a bunch of shit that shows that cameras really should be kept out of the hands of amateurs. Don’t waste my goddamned time, kids. I want the real stuff – show me some hardcore porn of your girlfriend, or you puking your guts out, getting your teeth kicked in by a pile of angry chavs. The landmarks I can go buy a god damned postcard of, you know, by some local weirdo with a fancy SLR or whatever they call those cameras not made by Fisher-Price. But I digress.
Hostelling can still be a very useful endeavor for us soulless belligerents who hate society, however. Yes, you may need to put up with a pile of bullshit about where your shared dorm-room-mates have been, or will be going, to teach english or pick berries or something stupid like that, but keep in mind that gaining their trust is critical to gaining more of their assets. Of course mommy and daddy went out and bought them a nice graduation present, probably some backpack that can fit umpteen dozen liters of pure dog shit for their foray across Europe in a commuter train, and some dirty socks and unused condoms because they were afraid to go into the brothel and tell that hot African refugee chick that he really wanted to shag her, even if it only cost twenty euros. Hey, that’s fine. Whatever works for them. If he gets laid, or if she hooks up with a suave, swarthy, and smelly mediterranean type, it’ll just make your own ends a little easier for them to swallow. In addition to whatever else they swallowed, like ecstasy or roofies or cheap hippie drugs that I will discuss in a later article.
What we’re after here is the opportunity that if you can gain their trust, they’ll leave their backpacks filled with smelly socks and other crap under their dorm beds, along with hopefully a few things that you can use. Naturally, be the last to leave in the morning, feigning some sort of hard hangover or injury to the groin for going to that Berlin anti-war protest the day before. “Ow, I’m sore,” you say in that fake feel-for-me-because-I-hate-the-corporations way that all the young college kiddies love. They think you’re awesome for being an old drifter, telling them tales of woe and wonder that they will again recite around their own water cooler as they do the green mile every day after their “grand adventure”, riding that slow downward spiral to the grave. They’re funny like that, they’re mesmerized, they’re probably downstairs at that cookie cutter cafeteria loading up on crappy orange juice, watery coffee, and a few cold cuts and buns for their day out on the town to see a bunch of old historical sites as directed to them by the backpacker guidebook and MySpace pictures they found before their trip (mommy and daddy bought the guidebook for them, of course). Now’s your chance to start poking around.
I’ll generally go for the Ipod-type thingies as they can be easily pawned, and if they’re dumb enough to leave their money belts, take half of the cash. Always leave them something – it will mean that they will be down at the train station trying to buy a sleeper bed on their Eurail ticket before the “holy shit, I thought I had more money” thought crosses into their little “gee-wizz it’s Europe!” minds. By that time you should have already snuck yourself onto an earlier train and be hiding out in the washroom when the conductor walks by, but that’s yet another article I’ll eventually get to once the shakes from my meth symptoms wash away for a bit.
Robbing hostel-going kiddies’ backpacks isn’t the only way to land a bit of extra scratch. You could also do the advanced hostel-robber’s technique of landing a job at the till, overcharging hostel kids, and then just offing with the money from that and a pile of credit card numbers a week or two later. Of course, use a fake name and nationality – Aussie is always a good one, and Canadians are so hard to figure out that anyone could pretend to be one for a short while. If other Canadians try and test you, just say you’re a recent immigrant from wherever and are still studying the How-to-be-a-Canadian booklet and your parents bought you all economic passports. It will shut them up if nothing else.
The extreme case to all of this, of course, is that a pile of the drifting young folks will be on to you and your overall plan to tour whatever continent or country you’re in with these tactics. Running away may not be good enough, and your exit will require more difficult measures. Luckily most of the ditch-ass dive hostels around the world, the unrated types where the real underbelly like me sleeps, have a very low compliance with frilly things like building codes and fire regulations. I recommend a big fat cigar in the foyer before lighting some of those “parasail across the Rhine” brochures and let the whole shithouse go up in flames. This will likely kill a lot of young people, as fire escapes are usually nonexistent in shitty hostels, there is no real alarm system, and all of the backpacking types are super-protective of their cheap clothes and aren’t insured worth shit for when bad stuff happens to them and would sooner toast like a cheap Parisian pastry than leave their overbundled backpack to burn. So, they’ll likely roast just like those fruit pickers did only seven short years ago in southern Australia, the poor things never knowing what hit them, accelerating the process that they dreamed of completing in and around a water cooler and cubicle back in their home country, dreaming of becoming a worker drone greater than just the college joe who didn’t do the gap year thing.
Hey, life sucks that way. It’s hard to live with that on your conscience, but if you’re like me, you’ll be so hopped up in a drug induced haze and stuck somewhere on the road to Hell that it won’t really matter after a few more months of paralyzing and almost deadly overdoses. Hostels can be not only a great place to crash, but also a solid source of income. The trick is to keep moving, keep talking, and keep smoking. Above all, keep smoking. Seven years ago some fruit pickers took those words to heart.