A stranger once burst into our Airbnb & bolted to the bathroom because life as a nomad is never dull

The couple in front of a door marked, "Private."
Photo: Provided by Michael Jensen

First, an apology. My husband, Michael, and I are fully aware that we write about toilet issues fairly regularly.

Then again, toilets are a part of travel.

Take the time a few weeks ago when Michael and I were sitting at home in our Vancouver Airbnb, which was a basement unit in a house.

The front room of our Airbnb.
The front room of our Airbnb.Provided by Michael Jensen

There was a door which led into the other half of the basement and the rest of the house where our hosts lived.

A door that we had always assumed was locked.

But suddenly, the door flung open, and a man stepped inside our apartment and made a beeline directly to our bathroom, closing the door behind him.

I looked at Michael.

Michael looked at me.

Had what we thought happened really just happened? Was there a person in our bathroom right now? Someone we’d never seen before?

Later, I told some friends that I felt such an unprecedented, unique feeling of confusion that it should have its own word.

“Sh*t-stunned,” I said. “Or bowel-wildered.”

Then one friend, Tyler, volunteered, “Poo-plexed?”

Which is, henceforth, exactly what this very specific emotion shall be called.

At that moment, Michael and I were completely and utterly poo-plexed.

Finally, Michael said, “I’m going up to talk to our hosts.” This was smart. There was an unknown person in our bathroom. It would take too long to text them.

He immediately left to go up and around to knock on their front door.

But that meant I was left alone in the apartment.

Except that, no, I wasn’t alone. There was someone in our bathroom! Which is why I felt so poo-plexed.

And he’d now been in there long enough to know that this was definitely a poo-plex situation — emphasis on the “poo.”

The bathroom where the, uh, crime took place.
The scene of the, uh, crime. Provided by Michael Jensen

Should I knock? After all, this was our apartment, which was relevant for two reasons.

First, I was technically his “host,” and a good host should always be sensitive to the needs of their guests.

Second — and perhaps more importantly — he was literally an “intruder in my apartment,” and people who unlawfully break into other people’s apartments should be apprehended and possibly punished.

But people who break into apartments are, by definition, unpredictable, so the last thing I wanted to do was confront him.

Five looooong minutes later, the man — finally! — stepped out of the bathroom and immediately, and without making eye contact, headed back through the door.

He was gone as quickly as he’d come. Had he ever even been here? Part of me wasn’t sure.

Once again, I was poo-plexed.

Michael returned from upstairs.

“John and Linda are mortified,” he told me, meaning our hosts. “They have a guest, but they have no idea what happened.”

Had the guest gotten lost? Or had he had some kind of embarrassing bathroom emergency that he didn’t want to share with them? When it comes to matters such as this, I believe we should all always try to be as understanding as possible.

But it still felt really weird — a violation of sorts. What if Michael or I had been naked? What if we’d been in the bathroom with the door unlocked? There had definitely been no knocking involved on either door.

The couple standing in front of a door marked "Private"
Provided by Michael Jensen What does the sign say?! Provided by Michael Jensen

Later, John came down to formally apologize.

“There’s no excuse for what happened,” he said. “It was really inappropriate, and we’re really sorry.”

Then he handed us a bottle of expensive wine.

It was the right apology, and it worked. Sh*t, er, stuff happens. This didn’t even really have anything to do with Airbnb. The fact is, once when I was staying in a hotel, someone walked in on me standing in my underwear. The front desk had given them the wrong key — and when I called to say something, the front desk worker barely even muttered an apology.

But what happened in that Airbnb wasn’t a complete loss. I experienced a new emotion — a very particular kind of confusion.

And with Tyler’s help, we also coined a very helpful new word: poo-plexed.

Trust me, if this ever happens to you, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Brent Hartinger is a screenwriter and author, and one-half of “Brent and Michael Are Going Places,” a couple of traveling gay digital nomads. Subscribe to their free travel newsletter here.

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