My apologies for the poor quality of the photo, but sometimes you have to jump on a photo opportunity when it arises!
Recently, I was backpacking in Mexico and staying in a dorm room. I think there were four or five dorm beds in the room, which meant eight or ten people were sharing the space. For the most part, everyone was really polite and friendly. Everyone, that is, except for one woman, who we nicknamed The Tent. This woman traveled light (a sign we’d never get along in the real world), yet managed to find space in her bags for a large fleece blanket. Rather than wrapping herself up at night, she used the blanket to form a tent in her lower bunk bed, thus ensuring she had absolutely no opportunities to communicate with anyone else in the room. Besides wondering just what she might be up to in there, the tent became the elephant in the room that everyone else had to tiptoe around. If we’d known she was sleeping, we’d have been quiet. If we’d known she was awake and reading, we’d have chatted comfortably. If we’d known she was “enjoying some personal time” we would have left the room and drowned our giggles in tequila shots. But since we all had no idea what was going on, we just awkwardly looked at one another and went about our hosteling.
Dorm rooms are shared spaces. It’s important to consider the impact of your actions on the community. If you want to be alone, get a private room or stay in a hotel. Once you check into a dorm, the least you can do is smile and say hello to the other guests. In the words of a deodorant commercial from my youth, “Anything less would be uncivilized.”