The Doolin Tourist

The Doolin Tourist

I was recently reminded of this woman I met in a hostel in Doolin, Ireland.

I was backpacking through Ireland on my own and was having a grand old time–until I came down with Bronchitis. Now, I love Doolin (a tiny town on the west coast that boasts nothing but pubs and gorgeous scenery) but I didn’t like being stuck in my hostel room for a week. I alternated between freezing and burning up, from sleeping hours at a time to hanging out in front of the toilet. I was miserable.

Anyway, I’d been in Doolin for about 5 days, which is around 3 days longer than what most people spend there, when I met this other American woman. She claimed to be a journalist, though she never said who she worked for, and she was staying in my hostel. She stood to about 6 feet tall, had flaming red hair, spoke over everyone else, and you could always find her in the common room hogging the TV.

This woman was basically the stereotype of the “Ugly American.” She was loud, crass, obnoxious, and made it a point to ridicule everything she found unsatisfactory about Doolin and its environs. She’d been there for about a week and showed no signs of leaving the hostel.

Now this woman also happened to be sick, but she complained so much that people lost sympathy for her almost as soon as they gained it. She sat in the middle of the common room, surrounded by piles of tissues, and screamed at everyone who spoke too loudly, walked too hard,or got too close.

In an effort to receive some human interaction, every afternoon I would go down to the common room and find a corner in which to read. I tried my best to ignore her, and she never said anything to me, but the other hostel-goers were getting increasingly perturbed by her antics. She cursed a lot. Whenever she’d leave the room, the others would make fun of her and ridicule her. To be honest, it was hard not to blame them because she really wasn’t a pleasant woman to be around.

Well, one afternoon she was complaining and being her usual self and everyone was ignoring her. The more they ignored her, the louder she got. The commotion was giving me a headache and I felt the nausea coming back on so I decided to go back up to my room. Before I left, however, I told everyone good-bye and then I looked at her and said, “I hope you get to feeling better.” That’s all I said.

Later that evening, I heard a knock on my door. I was surprised to open it and find her standing there with a bottle of wine, some medicine, and a heating pad. She got me all tucked into bed and took care of me for the rest of the evening.

Before she left she said, “It meant a lot to me that you said you hoped I would feel better. Nobody else has talked to me.”

I think about that a lot, especially when I judge people too quickly or am being too harsh towards them. She actually ended up being okay.

Paddy’s Doolin Hostel

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