BY VINCENT VARNEY
If you’ve ever sensed the cold, dead hand of redundancy hovering over your shoulder, you’ve most likely thought about your unemployment contingency plan. For some, this plan involves mooching off parents. That method seems a natural fit for me, seeing as I’ve looked like a teen for an abnormal number of years – think 17 Again, but perpetually looped and renamed ’17 Always’ – but for others, it’s not an option.
Most people find the preparations for a financial nosedive to be daunting, similar to the actual nosedive, but I say they’re taking the wrong approach. Why, there’s no reason getting back on your feet and in a well-fed state can’t be entertaining, if not exciting! In fact, to make things easier I’m going to outlines my latest income austerity plan, step-by-step: It’s called the ‘Tourist in your own city’ technique and it involves exploiting the generosity of strangers, crashing on their couches and emptying their fridges.
1. Adopt a tourist persona
You’re unemployed. You have little to no savings and won’t be able to pay rent beyond next Monday. Thankfully, all hope is far from lost, permitting you own a wig and have knack for accents. If not, best of luck with life.
To adopt your tourist persona, first pick a country – for example’s sake, let’s pick Spain. After typing “Spanish clothing” into Google Images, you’ll find the average Spaniard enjoys wearing a Flamenco dress or a gold-embroidered silk jacket, and so should you because you’re now a Spanish. The best fake tourists read up on their new homeland’s history, traditions, famous attractions and pop singers, so it’s a good time to hit Wikipedia. You’ll also need to learn a few Spanish phrases (Old el Paso commercials are a goldmine) and start speaking with an accent, the accuracy of which isn’t too important, evidenced by Quentin Tarantino’s “Australian” accent.
2. Hit the town
You’ve donned your foreign and historically-faithful disguise, so the next step is delicately choosing a bar to target. Obviously, you can’t show your face at your regular hangouts because of the risk of being recognised – even in a red matador shirt I still look like me – so your best bet is to pick a bar you’ve always wanted to check out but never gotten around to. You’re a tourist, so live a little! Be sure to enter the bar with a smile and polite demeanour so you look approachable.
Pro-tip: Tourist attractions are also a no-go. Today’s tourists have become naturally sceptical ever since a certain Australian serial killer kidnapped and murdered a bunch of their kind, so they will likely place a mental magnifying glass over every person they meet. Simply staying away from true tourists is your safest choice as they can smell deceit a mile away. Stay away from serial killers, too.
3. Turn on the charm
After purchasing a drink (you still have a bit of cash, right?), pick a friendly-looking bunch of guys or gals and ask to sit with them. At first, they might squint at you strangely – I mean, look at your bizarre outfit – but just explain that you missed your train or got on the wrong bus or did something else stupid, leaving you stranded in a big and scary city. Normally these sorts of mistakes deserve a condescending roll of the eyes, but when committed by tourists, errors are endearing. You’ll most likely be offered a seat, admittedly out of pity, and if not, forget those heartless bastards and try your fraudulence elsewhere.
You might be thinking, “Oh crap, I don’t know how to talk to strangers, let alone chat them up!” But don’t worry because you’re a tourist! You’re exotic and people will want to talk to you, sort of like school kids staring curiously at an exchange student. And in fact, the less you talk, the better – it will support your “I don’t speak English too well” cause.
4. Seal the deal and perhaps a few meals
The trap has been set and your prey has taken the bait. Though you don’t want to sound too imposing, you’ll need to start casually dropping hints about having nowhere to stay. Assuming you’ve adequately fulfilled the previous steps, one of your new friends should offer you at least a night’s board at their house, and in doing so, they’re also giving you free reign over their fridge and car.
Please do bear in mind that I’m not a monster and I’m aware this guide abuses the goodwill of mankind, so I leave you with this suggestion to balance your karmic alignment: You’ll eventually overstay your welcome, probably after transferring the contents of your old apartment to your new friend’s place, so look for a new victim every few days until you find a new job. Happy house hunting!
Vincent Varney is a Sydney-based writer whose hometown would have crumbled without tourism. As such, he can’t help but see tourism as the answer to all of life’s problems. In fact, he has many problems, most of which are recounted at @VincentVarney