Prepare to be Horrified

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We have had the most emotionally draining day.  You won’t believe what has happened. Let me take you back to the beginning because what happened to us means nothing if you don’t know the whole story.  I haven’t had the chance to blog about our actual house-sitting experiences yet, but I felt compelled to jump online and type this as a form of therapy for myself. I apologize in advance that there are no photos of the house sit or the pets because I want to keep this as confidential as possible.  As much as we want to warn other house sitters about this woman, we will let the owners of Trusted House Sitters take care of her.  We filed a complaint with them, and let them read the main parts of this blog, mainly having to do with the state of the home, and her mental health.  We felt it was our duty to make sure that she isn’t allowed to advertise for house sitters in the future.  Nobody should have to go through what we did.

If you have read any of our previous blogs on house sitting, you would see that we ended our journey in Australia at the home of a woman who was having surgery and needed assistance with her dogs.  We arrived at her home on January 20th, even though she wouldn’t be having surgery until January 27th.  Our first impression of this woman should have been enough for us to cancel.  Within minutes of meeting us, she showed us the scar on her wrist from where she tried to kill herself a few years ago.  She then shared with us what medication she is on for her “Clinical Depression”.  She then told us her entire life story, including how her husband left her for another woman.  Every night, we sat through dinner and let her vent to us about her life.

We met her 2 dogs, which we absolutely loved.  The house, on the other hand was another story.  The house was absolutely disgusting.  I don’t think it had been cleaned EVER.  There was dog hair covering every surface of furniture, and even the towels we had to use smelled musty.  During our short stay here we came across various creatures including cockroaches, and maggots.  Yes maggots (thank god that was this morning and we are now gone). The cupboards were filled with ants, and there was never a short supply of flies in the air.  If that doesn’t gross you out enough, picture us drinking out of glasses that have live and dead bugs in them!  Yes, I am not kidding, it was absolutely horrifying.  She fed her dogs raw chicken parts, and raw bones that were stinking up the fridge from being so old.  When it came to garbage day, we took the opportunity to throw out most of her fridge because there was so much garbage in there, and the smell was just nauseating.  We didn’t say anything, because it wasn’t our place to judge, but now that we are gone, I feel I need to express how disgusting this was to experience. You would think that we would have turned around and run out on day 1, however, we were now in the middle of nowhere.  This woman lived in a small village, which was 45 minutes from the closest town, and 4 hours from Sydney by train.  There weren’t any buses or any way to get out even if we wanted to.  We also felt sorry for this woman because her family would not assist her, and she would need someone to help with the dogs while she was in the hospital.  So, we stayed, and tried to put the state of the house and our surroundings out of our minds.

She seemed to be a nice woman, at first, but no matter what we tried to do for her, she would always criticize us.  We cooked most nights and cleaned up the kitchen every night, but instead of thanking us, she criticized us.  We watered her 100 plants (not exaggerating), and I kid you not, she came home from surgery and said “I don’t think you watered these because they look bad, I will just do it now”.  Of course, we didn’t let her water them, and we did them for her.  We took the dogs for walks every other day, and fed them their food.

The first sign of trouble came on the day that she announced to us that she would need us to drive her to the hospital and pick her up after her surgery.  The problem is that we don’t have any experience driving on the left side of the road, and neither of us felt comfortable driving in a city with stop lights and lots of traffic.  She told us we could practice, so one day, Trevor decided to drive.  It went well overall, but there were definitely some scary parts to the drive, including a near accident in a round-about.  She wasn’t the best teacher, and caused a lot of confusion with her communication.  I was close to having a panic attack in the back seat.  Needless to say, at the end of the day we were emotionally drained, and made the decision NOT to drive her to the hospital.  We were worried about telling her this because we had nowhere else to stay, and could not afford to stay 2 weeks in a hotel.  We were honest, and she took it very well.  The next day, she had called the hospital and arranged private transportation, which wasn’t a problem at all.  Neither of us realized that she became bitter about this, and was holding it all inside.

So, now we come to today.  The day started like any other day.  We were in the kitchen making breakfast when we found maggots all over the floor.  We were both disgusted.  Trevor got out a mop and tried to get them all into a corner.  I had JUST turned on the air conditioning, and was about to close the windows when I decided to look up how to kill maggots on my phone.  The home owner walked in, and of course the first thing she says is “you have the air conditioning on and the window is open”.  I said “I know, I was just about the close them when I got distracted, you might want to look at your kitchen, it is disgusting.”  The weird thing is, she didn’t seem shocked to see maggots at all.  This made us believe that she has them all the time.  She tried to blame us (are you surprised), and said it was because we used a large garbage bag. Funny, there were no maggots in the garbage, so I don’t think it was a one- time thing, and it certainly wasn’t our fault.  She sat down and said “I want to talk to you also, I don’t think this is working out, and I would like to ask you to leave today, I want my house back”.  WHAT?  She said that we have done NOTHING for her while we have stayed there.  She said she was upset that we did not come into her room the night before and check on her, or ask her if she needed anything.  This is an odd statement, since we have never once gone into her room, nor has she ever asked us to.  The night before this, we had ordered dinner, and asked her what she would like, and I even delivered it to her IN BED!  I offered to get her anything she needed.  Every night before this, we always said goodnight to her because we always had dinner together, but this day she was staying in her room, and never came out.  Every day, she would sleep until noon at the earliest, so we never would dare check on her before this hour.  When I told her this is why we didn’t bother her on the day she was complaining about, she said that was “ridiculous”.  She went on to tell us how she doesn’t think we will survive our holiday if we won’t drive.  She said she told her daughter that we weren’t comfortable driving, and that her daughter insulted us by saying “what kind of 30 year olds are they?”  She then went on to tell us that we have never walked her dogs!  She then said that she never told us we could use the air conditioning (when she showed us on day 1 how to work it).  We were clearly fighting a losing battle with this woman.  It was either her mental illness, or her heavy use of pain medication that was causing her to literally lose her mind.  I asked her how she expected us to go somewhere when she was supposed to give us a ride to the train station in 2 days to catch our flight.  She said that because SHE had to make her way to the hospital on her own, WE would have to figure out our own way out of town.  I told her that was UNFAIR that she put that expectation on us to drive, when we applied to look after her dogs, and she never posted in her ad that she would need a driver, otherwise we wouldn’t have come.  She had nothing to say back to this.  I asked her if she was going to pay for a taxi for us or if she would drive us.  She said “you can pay me for the electricity that you used, the showers you took, the air conditioning, and the internet”.  I said “that is something that gets agreed upon at the beginning, you can’t ask for that after you advertise your house sit as being FREE”.  She owed us money from dinner the night before, which she refused to give us back.  She simply said “you will find somewhere to go”.  She then went to hide in her room until we sorted out a plan.  We couldn’t believe this woman.  After everything we had done for her, and her dogs, and living in her disgusting house, this is how we are treated?  We were shocked.

I immediately got on my phone and started looking for somewhere to stay.  Unfortunately for us, the areas surrounding the city where we needed to catch our train at was incredibly expensive, so we weren’t going to get a deal anywhere.  We settled on a holiday park near the beach, in hopes that we could enjoy our last 2 days, and try to leave on a happy note.  Now all we had to do was find a way out.  There was a bus that came to town, but it only came a few times a day, and we would have to walk our luggage quite far to get to it.  I immediately thought about going to a neighbour to ask for help.  Normally, this isn’t something we would think to do, but when you are stranded in another country with no way out, you tend to do whatever you need to do.  I went next door, while Trevor packed up all of our luggage.  I am embarrassed to admit this, but when the women opened the door, I could only introduce myself, and then I broke down in tears.  I think all of the anger and hurt just came out.  I explained the situation to her and her husband, and they were very sympathetic.  Another surprising thing is that they weren’t shocked by her behaviour.  The woman looked at her husband and said “I told you she was loopy”.  Apparently, this home owner had done a lot of crazy things in the past, and these neighbours were very aware of her personality.  They offered to drive us to another town, about 20 minutes away.  We were so grateful.  She only asked us for $20 for gas, but I made her take $50.  I told her she was an angel, and she accepted with tears in her eyes.  If nothing else, this day showed us that there are good people left in this world, who will help out another human being.

We ended up in a beautiful location, just minutes from the most unique beach we had ever seen.  Within minutes of being in the water, we told each other that we were happy that we were here, and that we were going to make the best of this situation.  If you look at the photos you will see that we picked a great place to be stranded in.  We will be here for 2 nights, and then we make our way back to Sydney to board our plane to New Zealand.  That’s it for now!

Camel Rides!

Camel Rides!

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Sand Dunes

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11 thoughts on “Prepare to be Horrified

  1. C.Beeker

    Hey Perky Ts, my heart goes out to you! I’m so sorry you had this rather traumatic experience! My hair stood on end as I read the details of the situation. We’ve landed in homes that had cockroaches, scorpions, black widows, rotting food in the fridge, smelly mattresses and stinky bed/bath linens, too, but never to this extent. It’s a real eye-opener, isn’t it?! Of course it’s next to impossible to weed out these sit assignments long-distance in advance, but we always try to Skype/Facetime potential home/pet owners and have lengthy conversations with them because we had a near brush with a woman who seemed relatively sane in her emails. It was only when we Skyped that the warning bells started to go off for both my husband and I. I didn’t walk, I ran to my laptop shortly after that Skype and came up with some excuse as to why we’d no longer be able to entertain fulfilling her house/pet-sit needs (we hadn’t committed at that point). Her post remained unfilled for months afterwards so I believe we made the right choice.

    While some homeowners offer to send pics of their home or give you a Skype walk-through of their house, most don’t and I feel it’s awkward to ask. I saw a great checklist on another housesitting Facebook page that included things related to the cleanliness of the home. The checklist owner said she brings up this part of the conversation by asking how they tend to be — are they super tidy and have a place for everything and everything in its place or are they pretty laid back about their home (something like that — I forget the exact wording she used). That seemed like a pretty diplomatic way to open the topic. I’d think you could tell a lot just from how someone would react to this type of discussion.

    Anyway, these are things that we’ve started to make part of our own screening process when we apply to housesits. After that ‘close call’, we realized that not only are home/pet-owners checking us out, we shouldn’t feel ‘desperate’ and at their mercy. No one deserves to be stressed out or in tears over a service they offer for free! We try to apply due diligence when considering which house/pet-sits to accept. What situations will be a good fit for us? Do either of us have any reservations or a negative gut feel about the posting? If so, we don’t feel bad in telling them we are no longer available and are withdrawing our names for consideration. Chances are, there will be plenty of other housesitters eager to fill their posting.

    1. Perky1 Post author

      Hi C.Beeker – I would love to see that checklist you mentioned, it is worth having for our next assignments! It is hard to ask someone to walk through their home though (as you mentioned it is quite awkward eh?). We Skyped with this woman, and honestly, she seemed “normal”. No warning bells at all. I am really not sure how to avoid this happening again. I think we will stop going to places that are far away from major towns/transportation though, because at least then we can take care of ourselves if we want to leave.

  2. Nick

    WOW, that story is unreal and pure craziness… talk about Bonnie Pshyco!! lol – Glad you two made it out of there alive!!

  3. Cheryl

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience! It sounds absolutely horrible and I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’ve done two house sits and have two more coming up this month. All of my house sits are in the USA, which is where I’m a native. After reading of your terrible experience, I’m even more convinced that I don’t really want to leave the USA for any house sits. I house sit alone, though. If hubby was interested in doing this with me, I might consider a foreign country. But he’s not. I look for house sitting assignments that are in or near cities where I already know someone or know the city. I travel in a minivan, so I can sleep in my car, if the need arises. I would not want to be stranded in a far away place and have to face what you faced. I’m so glad you at least have each other!

    1. Perky1 Post author

      Hi Cheryl! Please don’t let our experience deter you from leaving the US! There are SO many amazing people and amazing countries you can experience! Honestly, our experience could have happened in the US or Canada. It is all about the home owner, and how they pride themselves on their home. I don’t think it has anything to do with Australians, because we absolutely loved our first home and home owners! That is interesting that you house sit alone! I wonder if my hubby would mind that someday haha cheers!

  4. Pingback: Our House Sitting Experiences (So Far) | The Perky Travellers

  5. Alexandra

    Hi Perky,
    Sorry to hear about this absolutely insane experience for you 🙁
    Thank you for writing about it so others can learn from you. We are a housesitting and pet sitting website. We are located in US. After reading your post we are going to work even harder on screening our users to insure pleasureful experience, safety, and happiness of both travelers and house owners.

    http://www.travelandtails.com

    Thank you from our team! Hope all your next sittings are going to be amazing!!! Happy travels!

  6. Caitlin

    Oh my god, you spoke to my very soul. I suffered at the hands of an almost identical experience while housesitting in Scotland. The lunacy of being told you’re suddenly responsible financially for anything and everything they can think of, or that the flies flitting around their living room were somehow spawned by you and not there before they left.

    I felt my skin crawl and my stomach turn reading this, because I remember those exact feelings. Leaving that place was the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had. Freedom. Ultimate freedom.

    Sorry you had to experience that!

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