Saturday, 4 August 2012

The responsible adult

'' A guy checked in and he s only traveling with a small suitcase and a fan. He's here for a whole week though'' said one of the staff last week . The strange man became the infamous '' guest with the comb'' .

'' Maybe he is on the run and the police is looking for him''

Everyone laughs at the impossibility of the scenario. I smile. I know that ANYTHING can happen in a hostel.

Flashback Kipps Brighton 2009

It's 7 am I get in to work to catch up with the usual list of what happened the day before , what is it we have to fix, how often the fire alarm was set off and how many complaints by the neighbours...

I was the responsible adult there. Aka the manager.

I see my night staff still up. And that , for a manager is VERY bad news. He's also a good friend of mine and I know from his face something big had happened.

I see a suitcase that belongs to a guest of ours. James. A middle aged man who s been with us for th past 3 months, almost a family member. He had even given me management tips and definitely helped me to be a responsible adult.

'' OMG what happened to James? Is he ok ? Did he have an accident?''

'' His name is NOT James'' he answers , still in shock.


He shows me an article with our friend's face on it. '' WANTED''

A conman. Sorry not A conman. THE most wanted conman in the UK. He was on crime watch a couple of days ago ( our TV mysteriously broke that night and we could not watch it) Someone spotted him in Brighton. Now the cops came to let us know last night.

OH dear..... So much for responsible adult.

Back to present , Kipps Canterbury while cleaning
We finally found what was in the guy with the comb's suitcase, beside the fan ( Bringing a fan to England. WHY????)
3 Asterix albums , chocolate , sleeping pills and ONE polo shirt.

Mmmmm ....

3 hours later he goes to the intern with his key , still staring.and said with a mysterious look:

'' My job in Canterbury is over. I am going now'' and checked out 2 days early.

I could not even make him a hot chocolate..........

Our group of French teenagers left too. It was like losing cousins and that. They only stayed for 5 days but time does not count here. Only experience does. And we had good laughs. And good adult conversations too.

The leaders were looking forward to going home and stop being the Adults. BO-RING

Responsible adult : the person who is serious and has to show the example at all times , for the young generation to follow the perfect path of wisdom.

ie : BO-RING.

'' Annabelle, you used to be the manager at Brighton right? What happened ? '' The Dutch intern asks. She's smiling today , she only has to make 29 beds. I'm not forcing her to clean the hostel with a toothbrush.

'' I became boring so I went travelling. Here am I now '' I answer, still hating to talk about it.

YOU? BORING? She does not get it. Yeah , I'm working hard on the non boring bit now. I gather everyone noticed.

Flashback Kipps Brighton 2009
'' Shhhh here she comes'' . I could hear , everytime I got in . No, we can't tell her that , she's the manager''

Life is lonely at the top....

Don't put your feet on the couch , the kitchen is closed now, no you can't cook , no you can't walk around the hostel wearing the staff's dress, YOU ARE A MAN.

'' WTF happened here last night? '' I say cleaning yet anoher vomit from a french regular who had too much to drink AGAIN.

Well , The new staff member took the guests to a pub and then.... SHe got them to her place for a strip poker.

WHAT? We had just hired her. Why can't people play by the rules for God's sake?

The rules, the rules , the rules...... I WAS THE RULES.

Another warning I had to give. When you work , you can't play strip poker with the guests ok?

WHATEVER. was the treatement I usually got.

I was so into the rules that one day I saw that girl in the mirror that was no longer me. I never go out drinking with anyone. Because I'm the manager. I can't laugh and share crazy stories with anyone , I'm the manager. I live in my flat alone. I'm the manager.

It was 5 to midnight on 31st of December 2009. I just put one of my drunk guests to bed after  holding  her hair back while she was vomiting and I thought she was stupid. I could not relate to her anymore. I felt negative, jugdmental and bitter. It freaked THE HELL OUT OF ME.

I had ceased to understand people.

I looked at this girl in the mirror and swore: NEVER AGAIN.

10 days later I was in a farm in the jungle in Malaysia living with deadly scorpions

Welcome to your midlife crisis Annabelle ( or is it the teenager one?)

At 5 to midnight on 31st December 2010 I was in Sydney , Australia thinking about that story drinking with the staff I mentionned at the beginning of this post. He had invited me over for New Years. He still calls me boss but I'm no longer the responsible adult. I can share crazy stories with people. I am one of them.

I still called Kipps Brighton at dead midnightUK time that night.

Back to present , Canterbury West station
'' Look after my garden okay?'' My manager asks me.

I'm almost in tears as I put her on the train.

Don't cry , you have to look after the family she tells me, be strong, Annabelle''

She is going to Brighton to work at the other Kipps for 12 WHOLE HOURS.

What are we going to do without our ''Mama'' ? When she s not around, nobody eats or knows what to do. Mama is our mummy. She belongs here!

And now she's giving me the '' You are now the responsible adult'' treatement.

I called her later that night and she was obviously enjoying NOT being the one in charge for a night .

'' I served shots to a hen party Annabelle , that was crazy now I'm gonna have pizza with the Italian intern . He's hot you'd love him''

Ah Kipps Brighton........
'' Who is the responsible adult for 12 hours now?'' All the young eyes are looking at.... ME.
Mmmmm Let me think........ NO.

I was handed the phone as I was having a nap later that day.

A voice in french

' So I want to book this room I told you about the other day but I was at work and I could not call because of my responsibilities. and ..............


I get dressed and take the booking. 13 minutes 33 of french grown up talk

'' Why would I give you my credit card number? Are you a serious place? I don't really trust the British'' .

Darling, I AM FRENCH.

.... And the bathroom , is it clean? Because we need clean you know, can you translate the price in Euros. Bloody English and their pounds we do not get it.''


She was the spitting image I have of a responsible adult. I have Been brought up with this idea.

Something about ceasing to understand the world and play by THE rules.

Still freaks the hell out me.

So what did I do on my night off ? I went to get drunk with the young ones on a pub crawl

Of course., Annabelle had yet another point to prove.

There I was cheating at pool drinking shots of Tequila, making people laugh with various jokes that thank God , I forgot.
'' So what room are we deep cleaning tomorrow Annabelle hahahha''


There was also a 48 year old guest with us. Her boyfriend was from Germany , she 's irish and lives in Canada. She does couch surfing , drinking and laughing. She is also a serious teacher.

Admiration. Role model. I wish I could be her.....
Later that night the 2 young staff disapeared.

'' Where are the boys? '' I ask

'' They want to go and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at the hostel.

I glance at my watch , almost midnight.

I run on the street and caught them

'' You are NOT bringing any alcohol back to the hostel. You 're not messing up the staff's shift. He just got back from holidays . Respect his work.I'm not impressed and Mama would not like this. '' I was now dead sober.

The 2 boys were looking at their feet and apologized.

I got back in and told the girls that if there is ANY problem tonight , refer to me.

'' Annabelle, You are tough and you are also fun. You act your age when it's necessary.We know we can rely on you. That is cool''

She got me the next round of shots.

So... maybe I was never that boring manager in the end?

Responsible adults : People who forgive the imperfection in others because they've been there, done that BUT people who also stand up for their values and protect the people/ things they care for.

Play by your own rules. Because only YOU know what is worth fighting for. ...

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