Give It Some Welly
So, sadly, our South Island adventure was over. The plan was to make like Jonathan Ross and lay low for a bit.
Wellington beckoned, where we would set-up shop, restock the coffers and rest-up after a tough month of tourism. I say “tough” when, really, I suppose I mean “nice”.
Where There’s A Welly There’s A Way
Things didn’t go according to plan right from the off. We had decided to go all Phileas Fogg and use a combination of train and boat. Sadly, hot air balloon and camel were vetoed at the last minute.
We said goodbye to Louise’s friends and perfect hosts, Jye and Angie, at 6.30am, boarded the train at 7am, and by 9am we were already late. The only saving grace was that apparently the boat was late too. I bet Michael Palin didn’t have to put up with this.
After an uneventful boat journey where I was charged so much for a papercup full of chicken nuggets, I considered writing to Gordon Brown for a bailout, we drifted cheerfully into Wellington harbour.
Within an hour, we had already found our hostel, and already been disappointed. Steve, the bloke behind reception looked like he had been awake after a night at the Monster Truck Race, with his baseball cap and Castrol-stained lumberjack shirt. He charged us for our bedding, looked confused, confided in us that he “ran a Mickey Mouse operation”, and went back to looking confused again. This was the highest rating hostel in Wellington, by the way.
And he’d put us in Room 1. Room 1 is never a good room. Room 27 is a good room. Room 43 is a good room. It’s usually far away from other rooms, on a higher floor, or perhaps out back where it’s quiet. Room 1, however, is always next to something, like the reception, the kitchen or the TV room. In this case, we were slap bang in the middle of all three. And it was a Saturday night. And the rugby final was on. Not good if you’ve got up at 5am. Shit.
Put The (Wellington) Boot In
I think Steve knew I wasn’t happy. Maybe he was a people person, maybe he had a highly-attuned sense of empathy and was eternally hypersensitive to customer satisfaction. Or maybe he saw me continually re-shutting the kitchen door every 5 minutes to block out the noise and slowly twigged.
He found me in the TV room, and played it all matey. “Is it too loud?” he asked. “To be honest – yes” I said, being honest. “Oh I’m sorry” he started but then, just when I thought I had him onside, he changed tone “only I didn’t think with being in New Zealand’s most social city on the night of the rugby final, anyone would want to go to bed at 9.30”
“It’s a democracy” he added with a hurt expression “And I have to go with the majority, Phil” He added my name on the end in a passive-aggressive attempt to portray himself as the “reasonable one” – as if to say “I’m doing my best here – you’re the one who’s making hysterical demands” role.
But this wasn’t a democracy. It was more like tyranny of the majority. And we all know what majorities do. They do things like vote in George Bush. Twice. Imagine if Steve ran a pub: “Can I have a white wine please?”, “No sorry. Everyone’s getting hammered on tequila shots. I’ve got to go with the majority, Phil”
The best hostels are run so residents are free to fill their time how they wish without imposing upon each other. Steve should have been able to say: Want to spend the evening speed-reading Harry Potter? Be my guests. Want to get drunk with those other guests? Knock yourself out. Want to knock yourself out? My pleasure. Want some of my pleasure? Well I draw the line somewhere.
Democracy is also about choice. And I choose not to get hammered and watch the rugby, so can I go to bed please?
And I did get to bed eventually after a room swap and an elaborate system of sound dampening involving both my earplugs and my iPod. There wasn’t a lot of room in there when I’d done.
It was clear we had to find alternative accommodation. And so that would be our task for the next day.