Most of us have fallen victim to a travel mooch: those out-of-town guests whose visits turn into waking nightmares. But when we asked travelers to tell their ultimate mooching horror stories, we got more than we’d bargained for. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The Idle Imposter
“I was 22 and had just moved to San Diego. My dad told me that a young guy who works for him might come out, and would I mind if he stayed with me for a week or so? I said no, but a week later, Vince arrived. He arrived with little money, and soon, my food and beer disappeared. I restocked everything once, and when it disappeared again, I didn't need to learn any more lessons. When he got too much sun and started to peel, Vince left his dead skin on my table in the living room. And he was extremely messy: his clothes were all over the living room, and then he started wearing my clothes.
I eventually called my dad and said, “What are you doing to me? This Vince guy is a nightmare.” My Dad said, "Vince? Who's Vince?” I told him the guy’s full name, and he said, "He's the janitor here, but he's not the guy I was talking about. Vince must have overheard me talking to the other guy." Vince promptly left my house after I hung up the phone.”
The Feline Fiend
“Back in college, one of my roommates decided to bring her college-flunkie friend to stay in our apartment for six weeks with no notice. She came with baggage: three cats, one of which had a tapeworm in his system and would constantly scratch his rear on the carpet. The girl let the cats claw the couches and carpets to bits and, worst of all, use the living room as a litter box.
I had another roommate, sort of a wannabe hippie from the Bay Area who was into composting, and she had her wooden box of dirt, worms, and garbage in the corner. Three times a day, she would throw her meals in the box, and the cats would follow. Our guest would yell at the cats to get away, but one day, she wasn’t around.
During finals week, I came home early to study, and there they were: the cats were rolling around in the compost dirt, garbage was scattered everywhere, and on the carpet were half-eaten worms, unharmed worms, wiggling worms, and worms that somehow clung to the cats’ fur. I screamed, closed the front door, and went back to campus and didn’t come back until close to midnight.
The next day, the girl and her cats were gone.”
The High-Minded Hijacker
“I did not realize that letting my brother's girlfriend stay in my apartment for a few days before she flew to Europe meant that she was allowed to control my access to my own room, and that my furniture had to be moved out of the way so she could use the room as a yoga studio. Maybe this is common, but I did not know until she stayed.
Side note: this girl did not know Manhattan was an island, but that's beside the point.”
The Multi-Generational Mooch
“I had a friend from Denmark who was going to visit relatives in Baltimore with her cousins and wanted to come visit us for a week. She and I had been penpals for over 20 years, but we had never met and thought it was high time we did. I was thrilled. We have three guest bedrooms, so we had room for everyone. I had only a few rules: #1 was no smoking inside my house, as I am asthmatic. Since I don’t have children, my house isn’t child-friendly, but I politely explained that I had antiques and was very particular about them, and that her two young cousins could look at my Barbie collection but needed to realize that they were not to be played with: I am talking the kind of Barbies that cost over $100, not the ones for $5 at Wal-Mart.
When they arrived, one of her cousins came right into my house smoking a stogie. Despite my asking nicely to please smoke outside, he could not have cared less. The children ran into my Barbie room and began to manhandle my expensive dolls; they even took one out of the box. The kids got into everything and climbed all over my antiques. The kids woke us up one morning at 6am because they wanted breakfast. My friend’s relatives proceeded to help themselves to snacks and food but never offered to clean up their mess.
After spending a few days at my house, we all went to Charleston together. When we stopped along the way for food, my friend’s cousins offered to share their food in the cooler. When we looked in their cooler, we saw that they had stocked it full of food from our fridge.
While my friend is welcome at our house anytime, if she ever wants to come back with her cousins in tow…well, I will have to figure out a way to tell her nicely that they are not welcome.”
And sometimes, it’s not the host, but the houseguest who winds up in a compromising position. Consider these horror stories fair warning for prospective moochers.
The Disappearing Drinker
“A friend and I went to stay with my cousin in NYC; he gave us his bed and stayed on the living-room floor. The first night we were there, we all went out together with his girlfriend. About 2am, he was nowhere to be found. We couldn’t find him anywhere, and of course, we were in a strange city and didn’t know where we were, so we finally hailed a cab home by ourselves, barely remembering the intersection where he lived. We stumbled through the streets at 3am—two young women by ourselves—trying to find our way back to his apartment (and, by the way, it was snowing and cold). We finally found his apartment, and he wasn’t there. At about 4am, we got a call from his girlfriend saying he was passed out drunk on her bathroom floor and wouldn’t make it home.
The next day, he came home and fell on the living-room floor without a word other than, “You guys need to go to McDonald’s right now. My head feels like there is tiny jackhammer in it, and I need French fries.” If he wasn’t my cousin, I would have been mad, but it was actually really funny.”
The Dancer in the Dark
“I was visiting a friend in Cali, and she had a new male roommate living with her. On the first night I was couch-crashing, her roommate came home late with a girl he’d met at a bar. I was sleeping on one of two couches in the living room, and it was super-dark. They stumbled onto the couch next to me, and I awake but didn’t really move or say anything. I thought they'd see me sleeping, but a few minutes passed, and then different types of sounds begin to fill the room. At this point, I decided to make them aware that I was in the room, so I said—in almost pitch darkness—"dude," very calmly. And then hell broke loose.
My friend’s roommate freaked out and started to run for the lights but tripped over something and fell. His lady friend screamed for a minute and then started to make sounds like she was throwing up, mid-scream. I thought this guy was coming after me, so I jumped up, and my feet landed in the girl’s vomit. I tried to dart for a lamp. When the lights popped on, I was next to the lamp in a football stance; my friend’s roommate was shirtless near the other light switch; his lady friend was on her knees, looking for her skirt; and my friend was in there with a bat in hand. She began to laugh, and introductions and explanations followed. As I washed the vomit from my feet, I was finally able to chuckle about it all.”
The next time you find yourself a guest in someone’s home, make sure you don't end up the subject of a mooching horror story: read IgoUgo's Ten Commandments of Couch-Crashing before you arrive.
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