Thursday, November 10, 2011

AirBnB Stories

I booked my AirBnb room late this time. A woman has an unused 1BR apt in Battery Park, normally listing for $250/night, but she offered it for $100. With rates starting at $150 for a lousy hotel on the edge of midtown, it would be a bargain.

I really don't like Battery Park. It's apparently designed to keep New York out, plain and simple--it's a gated community. The views are incredible, but it's from this incredibly sterile place, inhabited by, I'll assume, people who choose not to live in New York. Instead they live in Battery Park, which is basically a block away.

I get to the place and the doorman tells me to head up to that floor. He seems to know my host. She greets me, we chat a bit and I learn she's from the Ukraine. She shows me the room, and explains she'll be back very late and will sleep in the living room, that something had happened, and it's a long story. 

And then she leaves.

I look out the window--it's the 33rd floor--and watch the ferries crossing the Hudson, the sun setting in the West, its reflection off the other tall buildings. The apartment itself is small, but clean, like model-apartment showroom clean.

Every time I rent I do a quick camera scan; I'm not paranoid, I'm realistic (though I can't imagine why anyone would want me on camera for anything ;)

I have a meeting at 5:30, so I head over past Zucotti Park to get my dose of Occupy, into the station, and out for the night at the AVC/DonorsChoose event. 

When I get back late that night, everything is as I left it. So I check email and the news, and head to bed. 

When I wake up, it's dark. I can't see anything, in fact. And I can't move. I can smell something, like the smell of a hospital intensive care unit. I'm tired, and aching a bit, and fall back to sleep. 

I wake again and it's light, but I still can't see. I try to move but it hurts, and my arms are restrained. I hear some voices outside the door, and then some shuffling sounds, then another door closing. It's quiet. 

For about thirty minutes I struggle to free my arms, bending my wrists so my fingers can somehow grab the restraints. And suddenly, I break through whatever's holding my right arm back. I reach for my eyes and remove the blindfold, and I'm blinded again by the light from the window.

And I'm still aching. There are towels around me, and blood. I pull the covers off. My shirt is on the floor, and my right side is bandaged, blood seeping through the bandages. 

Everything else seems ok. 

I find the AirBnB business model to be compelling. But every time I rent through AirBnb, I lose a kidney ;) . I think it's a rich ground for stories-great ones, terrible ones, complex schemes, etc. In this one, who really owns the apartment? Marina just sleeps there occasionally. Who owns the apartments around it? Who pays the doorman, the maintenance men, and what other things do they do? A real writer could easily produce a season of shows with believable stories (some true, some not). This one was, well, not. And I gotta get out of here in 15 minutes, so see ya in the comments. 

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