Once you get sick of living in the huge city where you’re based (in my case New York City), you’re going to move away and have to commute. That also means getting a place to stay for when you’re in NYC. You don’t really live there, you just stay there a couple of nights out of the months before or after a trip. You don’t want to throw a lot of money to a place you’re never at so you get together with several of your friends, rent an apartment in between LGA and JFK, buy as many bunk beds as you can possibly squeeze into it, and call it your Crash Pad.
It’s takes a little while to get over the fact that you’re an adult and living in a bunk bed. I made it all the way to college before I had to share a room with someone and even then I had my own bed. It took until the age of 33 before I had to sleep in my first bunk bed. Yeah, you’re regressing. It doesn’t feel right but you get used to it, sort of.
Crash pads come in all shapes and sizes. Some have dedicated beds for everyone who lives there. No matter where you are in the world, you know that your bed is there with your sheets on it, waiting for you. It isn’t being used by anyone else but you. No one is drooling, farting, or having sex in your bed. My crash pad in Kew Gardens, Queens is like that (also known as Stew Gardens). It’s good peace of mind knowing my bed is my bed. We have three bedrooms for fourteen of us. There are three bunk beds in one room, two in another, and one more plus a twin bed in mine. I have the top bunk but I’m patiently waiting for the guy below me or the girl in the twin to move out so I can upgrade. It’s serious business. I’ve almost planted drugs in their luggage then called the cops just to get them fired and free up a better bed. That’s right Larry and Mara, I’m coming for you!
Some crash pads have what’s called “hot beds”. That means you don’t have your own bed. Theoretically there should be a bed somewhere in the apartment for you but you have to poke around the apartment with a flashlight, find a naked mattress, and throw your sheets on it. It’s like musical chairs. Usually there are only a couple of people at the crash pad each night, which is good since hot-bed crash pads are overbooked and if every single person is there, someone might be on the sofa or futon, or worse. Any time there are more than four people in on the same night, it gets incredibly claustrophobic and fights break out over what to watch on television. Nothing is more uncomfortable than a full crash pad, which often happens between Christmas and New Years. Everyone just sits in one place and tries not to move around because there isn’t any room to move.
In every crash pad there’s one person that’s been there longer than the rest. For some reason that person feels a sense of entitlement or achievement because of this, like that’s something to be proud of. They might have a little more cabinet space in the communal kitchen or at least the best shelves, never those annoying, hard-to-reach ones at the top. They might also have more stuff there than anyone else. After a few years their area looks less like a meager place to crash a few times a month and more like a homeless person’s space, one of those privileged, well-to-do bums who has like three heaping shopping carts full of treasures.
Both pilots and flight attendants utilize crash pads. The turnover rate is high. The best part about the crash pad concept is that you may have five different airlines represented under one roof. You get to hear all about the drama your competitors face as well as all the ins and out of how they do things. After getting all this intel, most crash pads could probably run an airline better than any CEO. We could take all the best aspects from each company and make a super airline. No one airline is perfect.
I like staying in a crash pad where I’m the only representative from my airline. I don’t want to work with those people. I like being able to listen to them bitch and complain about their company (and each other) and feel completely detached. It’s entertaining.
People often ask about the food situation since there are so many people there and only one fridge with very limited shelf space. The ideal situation is to have communal food since leftovers are impossible. If you can’t finish a meal you need to just throw it away because you won’t be back to the crash pad for a couple of weeks and the food will spoil by then. Plus it just takes up valuable space. The space is worth more than your half eaten taco.
At the start everyone agrees with this communal system but slowly over time you stray and get possessive. One person will buy fancy cheese rather than the Kraft, so they’ll put their name on it with a note that says “Do Not Touch!” Then someone will buy a brand name cereal rather than Tasty Os and so they’ll put their name on it. Before long everything in the apartment has a name on it, even a tiny sample bottle of Lawry’s seasoned salt. It’s ridiculous. Currently we have four different ketchup bottles in the fridge with people’s names on them. Not four different kinds mind you, they’re all Heinz, not to mention about 100 little ketchup packets from fast food places that are packed into the place where the butter belongs in the fridge.
We have more individual condiments than the places we stole them from have; there are HUNDREDS. We got your ketchup, Tabasco, mustard, mayo, vinegar from the UK, and soy sauce from Asia. We have little salt and peppers from McDonalds to go with the regular salt and pepper shakers and then a huge 1 lb. container of Morton’s iodized salt. Our kitchen is indicative of the US Government, lots of unnecessary waste.
Every person in the crash pad has a little cubby to keep their dry goods in, but that doesn’t mean that your roommates will respect your cubby. If someone is hungry and it’s cold outside then first they’ll go through the roommates cubbies, then maybe through the take out menus. There’s always a reason not to leave the living room. You say you’ll replace the stolen items tomorrow but they never get replaced, EVER!
So that’s a crash pad in a nutshell. It has its drama but it’s better than sleeping in a chair at the airport or springing for an airport hotel every time you need to stay at base. The temptation is to join one of the party crash pads but that’s just a horrible idea in the long run. The only time you’re there is to sleep so you want to be able to sleep. It should be a sanctuary.