I love volunteering in hostels but it’s not always fun and games. In my last post I shared one good experience I have had and today I have terrible volunteering story for you. It may not sound at first too bad but I wasn’t paid for working. Only thing I got out of it was small bed (without mattress).
Catastrophic First Week For Hostel Worker
My first days in Tokyo had been full of first times. Volunteering in hostel, solo traveling and trying to survive with my bad English. I had survived fine except the working conditions sucked but I naively though everything would get better.
It was my fourth morning and I woke early to be ready and clean. I felt quite good and nothing predicted the mess this day would turn out to be. It was sunny and I had only five more days until my day off. The cleaning went well. I listened music dancing and mopping around the empty hostel and took in the beautiful neighborhood from the house’s sun patio. Everything was perfect.
Until it wasn’t. I had to change linens on two rooms. The first one was easy. Empty room, two beds with dirty linens. The second one turned out to be my first nightmare of that day. One dorm room, four dirty beds and only one person leaving the room. My problem was how there was no way of knowing which bed I should change the linens.
As bright problem solver I decided to change all the four beds and go to get early lunch. My work day wasn’t yet over. I still had to wait for two people who were going to check-in. My boss had given me permission to be half hour away from the hostel when waiting for guests. So I spend exactly that time walking to nearby shopping mall.
Everything seemed fine again. I hoped I would spend more time on the city but I was still holding on to the promise of coming days off. So I returned and began my waiting. It wasn’t so bad to watch Netflix, talk to the other guest and write. So I waited until several hours later someone ringed the doorbell and I rushed happily to open.
Behind the door stood cute young Asian boy looking a little lost. I of course welcomed him in thinking he must be one of the guests checking-in. The answer I got was flustered “only Chinese or Japanese” and so I was in problems again.
I tried to speak with my hands, basic English words I hoped he would understand and trying to come up some way to talk with him. The boy looked more and more frightened after every moment and my own state of panicking was growing.
So I did only thing I know would solve the problem and went to ask help from my boss who in fact talks Japanese and Chinese and was in the room next door. Oh, the stupid me… I chose wrong option.
After knocking to her door I told to my boss that I needed translating help to talk with this guest. The look for me was deadly but she didn’t have other options than to come and solve the situation. She talked to him and then I showed him around the hostel. When I left the boy to his room’s door, we were smiling stupidly and wishing each other goodnight.
And then I returned to the living room where my boss waited for me arms crossed and angry face on. Then she shouted. Apparently I was useless and should never again ask her help in situation like this. She also dissed my English skills and working speed. Like usually I just kept kindly quiet and listened.
I though my bad day wouldn’t turn worse but of course it did.
I kept waiting for the second guest. I waited, waited and waited. The clock was eleven PM and I had been waiting for whole day. There was no way I was going to disturb my boss again so I just sat there in the living room and tried to find something to do. Then my boss came out to the kitchen to eat.
“The second guest of today hasn’t yet came…” I probably sounded pathetic but I had grown to be scared of that woman.
“She came already when you weren’t here and I checked her in.” Then she went back to her room and I was left behind to keep my anger inside. I had been waiting for hours that I would have spend exploring the city. She had been whole that time inside of her room and seen me many times. Why the heck hadn’t she told me that I was free to go?
That was first day when I started to seriously think about ending my volunteering and just renting a apartment. It took a couple of more days and bad experiences with my host before I sneaked out of the hostel and found charming dorm to live in.
. . .
So as warning example always talk more with your host before going. Ask specific working hours, look everything critically and hope for the best. And if you are not feeling good, safe or valued in the place no one is preventing you from leaving.
Have you had bad volunteering experiences? Or have you ever left the place you were supposed to volunteer?
Tomorrow I am leaving to huge summer camp so the next post is going to be written in forest. I just hope my internet will work. So on next Monday you will get pros and cons of being hostel volunteer. See you then!