I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I don’t like people. I don’t like small talk. And I especially don’t like people who like to engage in small talk. The latter most often occurs with Airbnb hosts.
The boy is the social butterfly of the family and forces me to talk to people when I would rather sit around 10 other people with my headphones on and not discuss the current political climate in our respective countries.
In Rome, I booked an amazing Airbnb close to the Colosseum. It came with amazing reviews and it a really good spot. It’s a private room in an apartment and the owners live in the apartment next door with a door that we can knock on if we need anything.
Of course, I didn’t. So when she didn’t hear from us, she came a-knocking.
She asked us if we needed anything and then wanted to know more about who we were, where we were from, what we were doing there…typical CIA nosy old lady stuff. Jet-lagged and annoyed, I cut the conversation short, politely excusing myself to check on the boy.
In Johannesburg, we were lucky to get a self-check-in place, which didn’t require much communication with the host. We got the key from the guard and kept it moving. The host checked in on us only through the app and respected that I was antisocial.
In Amsterdam, this was the only time we shared the space with the host. And for that reason, we will never do it again. The place was nice, but the hosts stayed upstairs. Anytime they hard us come out of the room or come in from the day’s exploring, they would rush downstairs to greet us and ask us how things were going, where we’ve been, and suggest things that we should have done that were “less touristy”.
They were slightly annoying in that regard and a bit racist in others. We were living in Ethiopia at the time and when I mentioned we lived in Africa, his Dutch colonialism began to show. That place was my least favorite.
While Airbnb can be a great way to save money on lodging, get to know people, and stay in an area that makes the experience feel more like home, it challenges me to socialize under these shallow pretenses.
Now, I don’t dislike all people. I just like the people I like. And I like them because of the connections I was able to make with them when I first met them.
I’m not a fan of people who don’t stick to soup questions. Who just ask questions to be asking them to cut the white noise of silence. I’d rather be quiet than ask someone things that I don’t really care about.
Now, I do socialize. I talk to people. Sometimes.
And I do appreciate when people talk to me. Sometimes. Especially when it’s locals and I can get a deeper, unedited history about the country I’m visiting. Tour guides learn to whitewash and sugarcoat the history of their country to make it more palatable and fascinating. So, when I am interested in learning about a place, I do seek out locals to find my information.
But when I’m staying somewhere, most of the time I don’t want to talk.
Home is where I recuperate. Where I rest and recharge from the day’s events. And if my Airbnb is supposed to be my home away from home, I’d much prefer to be able to not have to talk to anyone when I don’t want to.
Which is probably why I’ve been staying in hotels lately.
I have to honor my introverted tendencies and the ways in which talking too much about nothing drains me. I know that while I am “renting” someone’s space for a time, this somehow confuses them into thinking that I owe them my time as well. While it seems mean and impolite, I am “nice” about it. I engage when I feel like it and kindly decline when I don’t.
For me, it’s less about politeness and more about remaining authentic in my interactions and preserving my energy for the people and things that ginuinely peak my interest.