I don’t know how much the Pope’s visit cost the country, but I bet it isn’t as much as my first batch of Airbnb guests have cost me, and they’re not even here yet.
I don’t know much about Popes in general, on account of having zero interest in patriarchal monotheism, but I’m sure I read somewhere that he’s not very blingy. Likes a small car, doesn’t request roast swan for dinner, has no need for gold taps or bathing in ass’s milk.
I wish Airbnb guests were as simple. What used to be money for old rope — download the app, change the sheets, key under the mat, bish bosh — has, in the few years since my last foray into hosting, become a blood sport. Everyone and their mother is an Airbnb host now.
I accidentally upload my room listing twice, and get into a Kafkaesque double- booking muddle that makes me want to hurl my laptop out the window, resulting in a chilly message from Airbnb saying they are going to fine me $100 before a single guest has ever arrived. Oh dear. I bet this didn’t happen to the Pope.
“You need to appease their algorithm,” says my Superhost friend. “And get Egyptian cotton sheets. High thread count.”
I find myself walking dazedly around the 24-hour supermarket, the one the size of eight football pitches, with a list of things to keep my imminent guests happy so that I will get a good review and therefore more guests.
Superhost Friend’s dire warning is still reverberating around my head — one bad review and I am Airbnb toast. Dead meat. Finished.
The list is long. New towels. New bathmats. New shower curtain. New shower nozzle. New kettle. New tea tray. New pillowcases, duvet cover, sheets. (No sign of Egyptian cotton in the cheap sheets aisle, so they’ll have to make do with Made In China — will my rating plummet?
This is starting to feel like Black Mirror.) A gallon of bleach, a gallon of paint. Soap, shampoo, bubble bath. A wifi booster. Biscuits, and organic herbal bloody tea.
I’m starting to regret all those filtered photos that have been carefully edited to hide the reality of what my room really looks like — dog hair tumbleweeds, piles of old paperwork awaiting sorting since the mid-90s, lipsticky cups, dusty magazines, spiders abseiling from the ceiling.
In an attempt to project a shabby chic aesthetic with literary/spiritual pretensions, I’ve uploaded lots of pictures of carefully curated books — anything with ‘Booker Nominated’ on the front, even if it’s drivel — and close-ups of a Buddha statue alongside an
essential oil mister. An arty white plate with a lone peach on it.
‘Rent my room, read a clever book while inhaling expensive smells, have a cup of organic green tea as you’re at it,’ screams my listing.
The supermarket bill, I calculate, will require about 22 guest bookings to cancel itself out.
I am such a crap capitalist.
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