“Who is this old man staying in our room?” the two young women must
have thought when I returned to my assigned dorm room. I had checked
into the Seattle City Center Hostel during the early afternoon, made
my bed and set out to explore Seattle. Only one of the four bunked
beds were made when I was there earlier and the thought never crossed
my mind that the rooms would be coed (really).
At 10:30pm, I was tired since I had been awake for 19 hours.
I would have preferred to go right to sleep but these two young women
were on their beds playing on their computers. So, I dropped off some
things and headed back out. When I returned after midnight, one was
asleep and the other was on her computer (again or still, I wondered).
Words were few. Earlier, I said hello, they said hello. I asked if
they were late sleepers since I planned to be up early. Computer girl said
that she is a deep sleeper. The other said nothing other than hello. I
assumed later that she did not speak English since she looked Asian. When I
returned after midnight I whispered good night to Computer Girl,
whose bed was diagonal to my upper bunk.
Sure enough, I woke early and left by 6am. Neither appeared to be
awake. I returned after 10am to check out and CG was, yes, in bed
playing on her computer. It was a gorgeous Seattle day and she seemed
like a nice, normal girl. I wanted to urge her to get out of bed or
call a hotline but it was none of my business, I ultimately decided.
I had a great deal of internal conflict during my stay. First was
the thought of even staying in a hostel. Since the focus of my trip is budget travel alternatives and spending as little as possible,
a hostel was definitely the correct lodging choice. I last stayed in a hostel
eight years ago after a late flight into Anchorage. I am accustomed
to having my own hotel room when I travel, when I am not staying up
all night or sleeping in a car.
Second is my age. I am old enough to be the father of most hostel
stayers. True to form, everyone I saw hanging in the lobby and in the
hallways were early 20 somethings. Same with the staff. The one
exception was Brian, the guy who appeared to be running the show
(managing/owning the place). Brian seemed to be about my age and
enjoyed being there and getting along with everyone. That allayed my
Third I suppose was the security of my things. There were
lockerroom-style lockers in my dorm room but I did not bring a lock. I did
not want to ask the staff to borrow one because that would bring
attention to the issue that I needed one. See, internal conflict. So I
brought the valuables my daypack and left mostly clothes in the room.
Fourth was personal safety. I was not concerned inside the hostel. The
neighborhood surrounding the hostel was not great. It was just fear
though since the worst that actually happened was a street dude
offering “really fat cigarettes.”
Fifth was just the whole hostel vibe. I just wanted a cheap place to
sleep. I did not want to commune in the kitchen or social room. I was
even reluctant to go to the free breakfast; so unlike me.
While I am checking out, down the stairs stroll a couple old enough to
be my parents. Yep, that squashed my whole dysfunctional hostel
thinking and put everything into perspective. Proved to me that
attitude is internal not external, that you are as young (or as old)
as you want to be.
© 2010 Charles McCool