And then he had the cheek to put his hand out to shake mine. I stared him in the eye and laughed in his face as I shook my head. He didn’t like it, and told me that if that’s how I was going to be then he wanted me out of the hostel by tomorrow evening. And that was the moment when I knew I was going to rob him. My options were pretty limited. I said ‘Yea, whatever, prick,’ and walked out of his office. I felt stunned. As I reached the top of the stairs it hadn’t really sunk in yet what had just happened. Fifteen minutes ago I’d been sleeping peacefully, nothing out of the ordinary going on in my world. And now I found myself without a job, without a place to stay, without a ticket home and without cash. In the staff bedroom Matt was still asleep. He woke as I walked in and turned his head to the door to ask what they’d wanted with me. ‘He just sacked me. Mario got Julian to fucking sack me.’ Matt’s reaction was laughter, accompanied by ‘What you gonna do?’
‘Rob him. You in?’
Matt had no interest in robbing Mario and fleeing the country. ‘I’m comfortable enough here, thanks. I like this job; I like living in Rome. I’m not ready to leave. You can do what you want, though. You’ve just been sacked!’
I said ‘Fair enough,’ and started packing my bags, while Matt went downstairs for breakfast. He returned to the dorm ten minutes later. ‘Julian just sacked me. Mario got him to do it.’ Too fucking funny. ‘You don’t wanna rob him, though.’ ‘Well actually, I do now.’ ‘OK then.’
The brief meeting between Julian, Mario and Matt had been as amicable as mine just a little while earlier, meaning that Mario would be in vigilant mode, aware of the risks posed by two disgruntled and hostile ex-employees wandering around the premises. So before doing anything else, we had to trick him. Together, we walked downstairs and knocked on his office door. He was alone inside; Julian gone. I apologised for refusing to shake his hand earlier, and told him I had just been shocked in the moment, but deep down I knew he was a good man and I was grateful to him for even allowing me to stay until tomorrow. Matt said some words of similar description. Mario bought it. We all smiled like old friends and shook hands and patted backs. Then we asked if actually we could stay until Tuesday morning, in two days’ time, as there was a cheap flight back to London that we would grab. He agreed. Thank you, you’re a legend. More back patting and we left the office. Too easy.
We went back up to the fourth floor and finished packing our shit. Somehow we had to get everything out of the hostel without anyone clocking us. We couldn’t just walk past reception with our gear, not when we’d told Mario we were staying until Tuesday. In the dorm next to ours a group of cheerleader type American girls were chatting loudly. We tapped their door. ‘Ladies, you couldn’t do us a favour, could you?’