In this installment of “What Would You Do?,” strapped for cash, but staying with friends for an indefinite period of time:
I’ve recently moved cities, but am keeping my job and have to go back to my old city from Tuesday to Thursday each week. In order to make it all affordable-ish, I’m going to be staying with my friend and his wife two nights a week when I have to come back for work. My question is…what should I offer by way of thanks or payment for this? My friend kind of joked that I have to buy them dinner when I’m there, but frankly if that’s the case, I’m better off staying in a hostel. I don’t want to be an ass and take advantage of their hospitality, but I am really strapped for cash. (Side note: My friend’s wife is on a diet that involves lots of rules and meat, as far as I can tell, and I’m a vegetarian so cooking for them seems pretty out of the question. My friend’s wife, in addition to being on a weird diet, doesn’t really drink.)
Back in college, I had a friend who found herself with no place to live for a few months, so my roommates and I offered her our couch. She did not cook us dinner nor pay us anything in rent (because she had no money give), but she did this seemingly impossible thing of not getting on our nerves during her stay with us, and keeping our place remarkably clean. This was a big deal because it was a two-bedroom apartment with four roommates with very different schedules, and college kids are generally massive pigs.
Cooking or taking the host out for dinner is usually a good way to thank someone for letting you stay with him or her. This is an unusual situation, and if I were in this position and strapped for cash, I would thank the couple for allowing me to stay with them for two nights a week, and explain that I’d love to find a way to repay them that wouldn’t require spending money (because I had none to give). I would offer to wash dishes, or do laundry, or help repaint a room—whatever chore or odd job they’d like some help with. And like my college friend, I’d try everything in my power not to get on their nerves during my stay with them.
And under no circumstance would I ever blog or write about them in a terrible book.