The Departed: Couch Surfers and Feeding Guests

Australians Crashed at My Place During Their Trip from Maine to The Florida Keys

I had an unusual experience with a pair of Couch Surfers this week.

They had contacted me through the CS website, asking if they could crash for a couple of days.

They were in the middle of a walking trip from the top of Maine down to Key West.

If you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, check out the video.

They actually called it a walkabout. They were Australians, and apparently that’s the term in that country for a walking trip of epic proportions.

So, they wanted to stop over with me for a couple of nights. I said of course, and that they’d be welcome to eat meals with us if they wanted to.

I just asked them to chip in a few dollars for meals, and if they wanted to help out with cleaning up afterward, I wouldn’t turn it down.

In my years of being a Couch Surfing host home, I’ve found that that’s the best way to handle the whole food thing.

I tried variations on this theme, but kept coming back to doing it this way: issuing a casual open-ended invite to meals, and asking for a bit of cash and a bit of help in return.

When I first started handling it that way, I was nervous about being taken advantage of. I wondered if I’d go broke feeding ungrateful people who didn’t contribute anything. Also wondered if I fed people, would I get stuck with all the cleanup?

Yeah, I’ve had a few deadbeats who never contributed cash or help. For those ones, I chose to not get annoyed and just let it go.

I’ve had a few people who were so tight on cash that I could see they really couldn’t help. For those ones, I figured God put me here to help them out, and it would come back to me somehow.

But most of the rest have been gems. They’ve helped out with food costs above and beyond. They’ve pitched in and helped with dishes and various other tasks that had nothing to do with meals but just needed to be done.
The Couch Surfers are mostly kids. I mean, young people in college or just out of college.

Anyway, back to this couple of Australian kids. They showed up with their backpacks and walking boots, looking tired but very normal. I showed them where they could put their stuff. I actually have a spare bedroom with two twin beds, and I put Couch Surfers and Warm Showers people both in that room.

As far as I’m concerned, Couch Surfers is just a great name. It doesn’t mean they have to literally sleep on a couch.

So, the Australian kids kind of settled in and took showers and such, and then wandered out in time for dinner. I made spaghetti and meatballs, and they ate everything with hearty appetites. The conversation was upbeat and lively.

We heard about their trip down the east coast, and they had some stories to tell, for sure!

That night we all turned in.

The next morning, when their door was still closed at noon, I knocked several times, and then opened the door. They had gone! Left! Departed! Evaporated!

Without a word.

Strange, I say. Definitely unusual. You just never know!

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