Surfers Thereza & Matej

couchsurfers Matej and Thereza

Matej and Thereza

couchsurfers Matej and Thereza

Matej and Thereza

March 25, 2015

I came to realize I don't document the interactions I have with the surfers who crash through this pad.

I've taken head-on snaps of previous surfers, some friendly semi-stagey shots. I've taken no good candids showing the things that make hosting random strangers worthwhile. So, mid-conversation, while we were playing "Whose Country Has More Problems?" I excused myself to retrieve a camera then came back to my spot on the floor. 

Surfers Matej and Thereza, two Czechs who arrived the day after the German bounced, were a team critical of the Czech Republic, I was on my own being critical of the US of A.

They said life in the Czech Republic is absurd. To prove their case, they cited the back and forth bans and lifts of bans on smoking. The Czech Republic is the only member in the EU without a nationwide smoking ban presently. They actually had one for a while, then it was reversed. Thereza and Matej said smokers smoking in public places wasn't the problem, it was government policy being changed at the whims of the elected officials who had little regard for prolonged stability. Their politicians' narcissism leads one party to overturn laws they just don't like. And their politicians were ugly too, Thereza said. 

I countered. Earlier, Thereza and Matej had been talking about the school system in the Czech republic and their issues with the national universities, so I started off on ours. I explained the limited accessibility of US colleges. Then I went off on the disparities in the public education system, segregated by districts and funded by those districts tax revenues, that prepares US students for college. I went off on the failings in this city, where at some NYC high schools – high schools nearby to this apartment – they have a mere 25% graduation rate. My main point was that for all the observable wealth of NYC, life is forever hopeless, success is unattainable, and the American Dream is only a dream for many of the city's residents, especially black and Hispanic men. 

We went on like this for an hour.

Nobody wins the game, but everybody has a sad laugh.  

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