Preparing for my first guest was nerve wracking. I imagined all of the things that could go wrong…especially the things that could go terribly wrong and then I magnified that by 100! Eventually, I calmed down and thought reasonably about my preparation. Was I ready? I reviewed and re-reviewed my lease. I went over my check lists…all 15 of them. I worried about having enough towels, would people know how to work the B-B-Q grill, the fire pit, and the tv? Would they respect or burn my house to the ground? The questions and doubts, mostly irrational, running through my mind were endless.
In an attempt to calm myself, thought back to my phone conversations with Mac, the 1st guest. I immediately felt better. He and his family, his wife, two children (8 & 10) and his mother-in-law. Five people, that’s what we agreed to when we made the reservation and he filled out the lease. He explained how excited he was to leave the city of Chicago behind for a week and show his children beautiful Colorado. We talked at length and discussed, because he asked, that this was my second home and I cherished it. He promised to take care of it like it was his own. He was so nice and seemed so sincere. Recalling these conversations allowed me to breathe a bit before they arrived.
Sucker! That’s most appropriate word to describe how I felt half way through his stay. On my way out of town after Mac and his family arrived I drove by my property. I know, stupid, but I was just so excited, oh, and I had forgotten to leave them the password for the internet….typical rookie mistake. When I arrive at the property there are 3 cars in the parking area. That’s weird because only one of them has out of state tags. I drop the password off with the older non English speaking lady who answered the door and I left still wondering about the cars.
About 20 minutes later, when I got to town and had cell service again I had a message from Mac saying that his wife’s college roommate decided to join them and her son. He explains in the message that he understands that he will have an added cost for the additional people. OK, not so bad; I can totally deal with this. He was honest and let me know. He didn’t have to, right? Surely this is a good sign.
When I get home I look at the camera that points to the parking area of the vacation rental. Now there are 4 cars in the parking area. That’s weird. After a few hours of thinking about it, I start to panic. Is this one of those horror stories where people just move in and you have to try to get them out through the court system and it takes week or even months and in the meantime they destroy your house! What have I gotten myself in to? Why did I ever do this?
After working myself into a frenzy I decide to call Mac. He answers. My blood pressure has shot up and that also makes the pitch of my voice shoot up. Its not pleasant for me or the person I am talking to. I ask Mac, “How many people are there?” Silence. Then I hear him softly counting, “Uh, just 6 of us and we are really enjoying your place.” I ask, what in hindsight was stupid question, “Are you sure there are only six people Mac?” Its important to know that I have seen Mac, his wife, his mother in law, 2 children, a 50 year old woman and 3 college age kids (one of whom weighs at least 300 pounds) walk into the house. I KNOW there are at least 9 people in my house but he continues to lie. I get flustered and say “OK, I’m not sure I believe that, but OK” and I end the call fuming but not knowing what to do.
Now I am almost hysterical. If he can lie about this what else is he doing. Do I call the sheriff? Do I drive back up there and tell them to get out of my house? Do I call VRBO and tell them to cancel all of my pending reservations and act like I never had this ridiculous idea to rent my house? I am envisioning my beautiful house being destroyed - toilets being clogged and overflowing, stuffing being pulled out of mattresses and furniture being destroyed.
Well, it doesn’t end as my very dramatic imagination had predicted…thank goodness! I will spare you the drama that occurred between Mac and I. However, because this one part is so ridiculous it is funny, I will tell you these particular guests' "escape route" as reported by my neighbor.
They eventually figured out that I wasn’t psychic and that I knew how many people were there through the security camera (which of course is disclosed in all of our literature). So, when they are leaving and packing up the cars only 6 people are ever seen on camera, even though there are 4 cars in the drive. The 300 pounder and the other two college age kids appear to never leave the house. But wait, I can see on the camera footage the young kids looking nervously at the camera and trying, and doing a very poor job of, nonchalantly glancing up the road at something out of the view of the camera. Then suddenly one of the college age kids comes running down the road and jumps in a car and drives up the hill. Then, about 3 minutes later, here he comes again, jumps in another car and drives up the hill again. All the while, the young kids are giggling and looking at the camera and then up the road as the cars drive away.
Obviously what he was doing was picking up the college age kids so that they would not be in the camera's view. My neighbor said it was hysterical and she enjoyed the entertainment while having her coffee that morning. She said the extremely overweight guest/intruder had to literally climb up the hill on his hands and knees through the neighbors yard to the road. Remember, this property is in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and we don’t have a whole lot of flat area, especially at this house. I was told it took several rest breaks and collapsing flat on his back when he finally did reach the road. All of this to escape the camera.
As annoyed as I was, I couldn’t help but laugh. The effort these people went to in attempt to trick me. So ridiculous, right?! I had so many speeches planned to let Mac have it. My speeches all included scolding for teaching his kids to be liars too. Thank goodness I finally gained some common sense and kept those speeches tucked away and never shared them with anyone. My first terrible guests left the house in decent shape (other than dragging my brand new bath towels down to the lake). Strangely, I hemmed and hawed over the deposit. Part of me wanted to 'teach him a lesson' and keep it all because he lied to me. Of course, there was the other part that was terrified of getting a bad review from my very first guest. Eventually I decided to give him 25% of his deposit back to make up for the extra people (and the lying). He called and asked about the status of his deposit about a week after his circus-like departure. I explained that I knew for a fact that he had extra people, beyond our maximum occupancy, which created an extra charge. He said thank you and that was that.
So, my first guests, although infuriating to me paid me an additional $400 for breaking the lease and I am knocking on wood as I say this but the rest of my guests have been fantastic. I am hoping that means I got the bad one out of the way and bring on the good ones! Now I can laugh about this but I guaranty I will never forget about it.