The New York Times today published a satirical piece by Josh Gondelman that hits the Airbnb nail on the head. In this mock welcome from an Airbnb “host,” guests are informed, among other things, that neighbors might get a little “cranky” that strangers have access to their building, and the police may be called because “technically there’s this zoning thing in the city.”
Unfortunately, illegal hotels are no laughing matter in New York City, bringing with them a host of issues including loss of affordable housing, tenant harassment, and security concerns for neighbors and communities. But this clever piece is still worth a chuckle or two:
By Josh Gondelman
OH, my gosh, welcome! So great to meet you! I’m Margot. This is my boyfriend, Claudio. Claudio doesn’t talk much. He mostly speaks with his body. We’re superexcited to have you here for the weekend.
I hope you found the place O.K. Did you park in the lot across the street? Oh, good! It’s crazy because there are No Parking signs all over the place, but they almost never tow. Like, pretty much none of our guests have ever been towed, which is good because the ticket is like $200. Yikes, right? Oh, dear. Where are my manners? Please, go ahead and put those bags down anywhere. Well, not there. Over to the side. Great. Come right this way. I’ll give you the grand tour.
The bathroom’s your first door on the right. There’s a hair dryer under the sink. If the water is slow to warm up, just turn the knob back about 45 degrees and flush the toilet with your foot. If that doesn’t work, just run down the hall to the laundry room, throw a couple of quarters in any washing machine, and run it empty. That always does the trick.
This is the living room, obviously. We’ve got AppleTV hooked up. I don’t use it much, but Claudio stays up late crying and watching serial-killer documentaries most nights. If you can’t get it to work, we’ll be staying at my mom’s place right around the corner, and we’ve got extra keys, so one of us can pop by at any time! There’s literally no time day or night when one of us couldn’t be here. Just keep that in mind!
The cats sleep in the kitchen. Oh, shoot. I cannot believe I didn’t mention the cats earlier. There’re just two. Or three. Maybe there are three now. That’s not a problem, is it? Oh, good, good. I’m so glad you’re not allergic. Because they shed a lot. But they mostly keep to themselves, so don’t worry about giving them attention. Meowzer, that’s the big one, actually hates being touched. If you pet him, he will pee everywhere. It’s like, wow. I’ve never seen a cat pee that far before.
Although if it’s not too much trouble, would you mind refilling their food and water dishes if they get low? It shouldn’t be more than twice a day. Thank you so much. And Dr. Scratchington, that’s the little one with the sharp nails, has a heart thing, so she needs just a teensy little injection every night at midnight. I forgot to mention it because usually Claudio does that. He doesn’t really sleep. Even when he does, his eyes are halfway open. He’s so quirky! If you’re weird about needles, he can come over and do it himself. You’d never know he’s there. He’s very quiet.
Oh, that? That’s the extra bedroom. We mostly use it for storage. If you could just keep that door shut, we’d really appreciate it. It’s, like, crazy haunted. So if you hear what sound like dishes being thrown against the wall or the bloodcurdling screams of children in danger, that’s all that is. We don’t have any terrible neighbors. It’s just the vengeful ghosts that occupy the spare bedroom. Their business must be, like, super unfinished. I keep saying we should call a guy and get rid of them, but Claudio thinks they make the place feel more homey. Anywhoozle …
Just by the by, speaking of neighbors, ours tend to get a little cranky if they think someone in the building is temporarily renting an apartment out. We will get a stern talking-to when we come back. And it might get a little awkward for you because they can call the cops and have you thrown out on the street.
Last time that happened, they wouldn’t even let the guests pack their stuff. Rude, right? I guess it’s because technically there’s this zoning thing in the city. I know. It is crazy. It’s our apartment. We should be able to do what we want.
This is all just to say, if a neighbor asks how you know us, tell them you’re distant cousins of mine in from Moscow, house sitting for a few days. If they ask why we need a house sitter, do not mention the cats. Tell them you’re sorry but you don’t speak very good English. Here. Put on these sunglasses and wear these scarves around your head when you enter and exit the apartment. If they keep asking questions, take this cyanide pill. You’ll be dead before you hit the ground.
Oh, shoot. Almost forgot. I baked some gluten-free muffins, and there are plenty of extras in the cabinet next to the fridge. Have at ’em!