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Episode Info

Episode Info:

Download Episode! Airbnb Hosts love what we do - the hospitality, meeting travelers, interacting with happy people, and showing off our places.  There are problems, ranging from rude guests, messes, animals, noise etc.  But physical safety isn't a common part of the experience. This episode addresses two incidents around the same time in Portland involving guns.  No one was physically hurt, but this is a good lesson about people who don't see guns as part of their world, and people who don't see the world without guns.   0:00 – 4:00 Introduction and discussion about the upcoming Vendor Fair in Portland, October 20, 2018. 4:00-8:40 Dan Cohen has been a host for 2 years in the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland and instantly found he liked hosting.  Dan has two listings that are short-term rentals. He enjoys the communications with travelers and providing hospitality.  Wife Jacki, with Dan cater to people who are visiting children and grandchildren as well as those visiting Portland. They mostly get couples or single people. Dan is a co-host, helping out friends who want to be involved in short-term hosting but who don’t want to do the work. He takes care of 7 listings, managing the advertising and most of the cleaning. [At the time of the interview, Airbnb still had a specific co-hosting option.] 08:40 – 13:00 Dan finds a gun. Dan describes the situation he encountered while cleaning after a guest checked out. He and Jackie went in on a Saturday morning with their 6-year old daughter. After an hour or so, he noticed that something had been left on the nightstand. It turned out to be a gun in a holster. He has little experience with guns but wanted to disarm it. His daughter was still in the room on the couch. He removed the magazine and thought he’d disarmed it but didn’t know for sure. He went onto the Portland Area Facebook Site and posted a picture and asked for advice. He received instant response. Most responses said to contact the police. The guest who checked out was a woman and was a good guest (other than the gun) so he didn’t want to call and turn her in, but was just really concerned. After he called the police, he got an email from the guest saying that she’d left behind her gun. 13:00-17:00 Dan’s guest emails him about the gun: “I need to let you know that the nightstand by the bed contains my Celtic 32 pistol that I travel with for protection. It is loaded, with one in the chamber, it has no safety, so please be careful…I’m very sorry about this, we are almost home … I don’t think you can ship it, so I will need to come back and pick it up from you… I just remembered now or I would have called you earlier …if you can please keep it somewhere safe and I can arrange to pick it up next weekend, I would be grateful.” At this point, Dan began feeling angry because of her nonchalance. The police were on their way, and when the officer came in, he pulled back the sliding piece at the top and a bullet flew out. It was loaded even without the magazine. The officer seemed a little confused about what to do, and told Dan that he could either give the gun back to the owner or the police could do it. The officer then called the guest and spoke with her directly, and then took the gun and left, saying that the guest would come and pick it up from the police. 17:00-22:00 Dan emails his Airbnb guest. Debi and Dan discussed the response he got from the Portland Area Airbnb Host Facebook group. He was very impressed. Most were supportive, some argued for guns in support of the guest, but he began to feel more and more upset. He realized how dangerous the situation was. “Kathy – we are more upset and angry than you can imagine. We are not “inconvenienced”. We return forgotten items to our guests all the time. It’s part of our job. Yesterday morning, we all went into the studio together, Jacki and I and our 6-year old daughter. We were there an hour before I found your loaded gun. 24 hours later and I am still shaking. What if my daughter had found it? What if we were a statistic right now? Me dead, my wife dead, my daughter dead. Any combination of those things could have happened because of a scared, irresponsible, truly unforgivable gun owner who left a loaded gun behind with no safety, a bullet in the chamber, in reach of a child. Before you apologize for our inconvenience, please consider what you actually did. The risk you put us in, and the fear and dread we still feel…thank you for reading this, and I hope this wakes you up…. “I’m terribly sorry, it was irresponsible and I have never done that before. I am so glad to know you are all safe and definitely wanted you to know the second I had remembered. It definitely has been on my mind that not everyone has a comfort level with guns. My dad is a police officer and so my comfort level with them is different. I understand your side, and again I am terribly sorry.” 22:00-25:30 Dan’s recommendations: Debi and Dan continued discussing his feelings about this, and what he might do differently. He said the guest was an older woman, a real estate agent who might go into unsafe areas, lots of reasons to justify having the gun but no excuse to forget it where she did. He recommended that if anyone experiences this, they should not touch the gun if possible, call the police right away, and should ahead of time put it in their house rules disallowing weapons. Debi asked if it might make us less safe in some way? Dan still wants to put a house rule of no guns. And he thanked Debi for her work on 25:30-29:00 Another incident - Tamara Goldsmith: Debi wraps it up with Dan, but says that there was another incident about the same time, and begins a new interview, talking with Tamara Goldsmith, a Portland host and shop owner. Tamara renovated a church about 8 years ago to be her home, and converted part of the back to be an ADU in 2014. She and a friend wanted a big, odd place to renovate, and she and Debi discussed Tamara’s Airbnb, how far back off the street and quiet it is. She has one bedroom and can accommodate 4 people maximum. She has met lots and lots of travelers. 29:00-38:30 The cleaner had a gun pulled on her. Just a week after Dan's incident, she got a text from her housekeeper who said her employee got a gun pulled on her. It was a chaotic, confusing time and she tried to get back with her but couldn’t get through – she offered what support she could over text, but pieced together that her employee claimed she had a gun pulled on her and was not coming back. Tamara went over to the apartment, the guest was a young woman with her husband and sister and baby. It was the sister who pulled the gun and explained that the cleaner walked in on them. Tamara asked if they were aware it was 2 hours past checkout time, the guest wrongly thought they were checking out the next day, and Tamara showed them proof they were to check out today. Tamara said she’d help them pack up, the house was a wreck and the guest launched into the story in a defensive manner and that it wasn’t unusual in Texas for people to carry guns. Tamara tried to listen to both sides, and wrote to Airbnb the next day saying that the guest or guests’ sister should have a flag on their account for these actions. Airbnb responded with the policy “express permission must be stated before ever bringing a firearm into another person’s home”. The guest was out within an hour after helping them pack up. The Airbnb employee also recommended that Tamara also add “no weapons” in her house rules. Also Airbnb recommended the cleaners need to knock on the door loudly and announce loudly “Housekeeping”. Airbnb ended up terminating the guest’s account, and the guest contacted Tamara to ask if she could intervene. Tamara did think Airbnb's response was stronger than needed, as it was her sister’s actions, but it was Airbnb’s call. Tamara also told Debi that all of her cleaners are African Americans and told her that when you see a gun, you run. It really was humbling to Tamara.  Debi mentioned that Airbnb recently sponsored Implicit Bias training for Host2Host, but this goes so much beyond that. 38:30-43:36 What to do differently? Tamara now reminds guests that their checkout is in the next morning. She sends a note the night before and says hope you have had a great visit, and about checkout at 10:00. She also has housekeeping knock loudly and announce they are housekeeping, and addressing it in her house rules. Debi discussed the cultural differences between Portland and other areas that have more guns. Tamara also expressed her appreciation for the Portland Area Airbnb Host Facebook group for the discussions there when she needed support. 43:36 Debi’s final comments, including reading Airbnb’s rules about weapons. LINKS: Tamara's Airbnb listing: Tamara's shop: Dan's listings and his co-host listings: The Studio: The Laurel: The Laurelhurst: Co-Hosting The artFlat: The Oasis: The Nest: The Daydream:

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