Friday, August 19, 2011

Couch Surfing and Bed Bugs


I currently have an ad on Craigslist because I'm seeking a room to rent in Madison, Wisconsin. A nice lady sent me a note suggesting that I check a web site called "Couch Surfing." She wrote:

"Hi Tom, I just rented my upstairs apt....but have you tried couchsurfing.org? Just an idea... good luck!"

I responded, "Thanks for the link, but I can't help wondering if couchsurfing.org is related to igotbedbugsonacouchthathundredsofstrangersslepton.org."

What is "couch surfing?" As they explain it, "CouchSurfing is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using our system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cultural understanding."

Couchsurfing.org is brilliantly set up, I have to say, and it connects people and couches around the world. Now, I've known for years that it's risky to pick up any kind of upholstered furniture or any bedding from an alley because it could be infested with bed bugs or lice, not to mention have fungus or mold that might make you sick or trigger an allergic reaction. Some of the best hotels in big cities have a bed bug problem.

With that in mind, is it really a good idea to willingly sleep on couches that are in a network of people from around the world who make a lifestyle of sleeping on networked couches? Do these couches get certified to be vermin free by couchsurfing.org? To be fair, the couches in the network get less of a workout by strangers than the average hotel bed, but then again the average hotel bed's linens are changed daily and inspected by local health department officials now and then.

Would you sleep with another person who slept with as many strangers as some of those networked couches do?  There's a name for couches like that, you know.

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