Chances are, if you attended a four-year institution and/or are a young professional establishing yourself in the real world, you have probably had a roommate. Either by happenstance, financial need, or mandatory placement, you were sharing a living space with a person less known than any third degree-separated friend; some even lucky enough to share a space with close friends. This was the ultimate test of friendship, and can either make or break relationships.
We can begin our review starting at the other night. I was sitting in bed, wide awake with the yammering, sorority girl laughs and chatter by my third roommate—my actual roommate’s girlfriend. With respect to details, this is his first time living on his own. I have been more than charitable in trying to help him live independently- how to properly clean, deal with the corporate lifestyle he got thrust into, write a check; even showing him how to cook – further, offering him some of my cooking to take with him to work or have for dinner (his cuisine is only microwavable meals and cereal—he’s 23).
I have even gone so far as to give him a slight discount on rent. Why? Because when I was transient and without a place to go, trying to figure things out, then later establishing myself, people helped me- and I was blessed to have a good group of friends that did so. (First piece of advice, folks- pay it forward).
Living with this man-child has been a true test of one’s forbearance:
- Dish piles are left in the sink- not the dishwasher.
- Spoiled food and unorganized clutter take up the fridge space.
- No cleaning is done- not even offering to help me clean nor to contribute to buying cleaning supplies or necessities (paper products, toilet paper, Lysol, dish detergent etc).
- I have become privy to his sexual escapades. Apparently this was the first time and to her “it was just natural” …I use quotes because they talk about this- on speaker phone, for all to hear, in GREAT detail- until all hours of the morning.
- On weekends, I sometimes wake up to the entire kitchen trashed- including the use of my Waterford crystal glasses, given as a most generous gift- as if a ghostly fraternity had pledge weekend here.
- Trash piles up and, despite valet trash service, he will text and ask when I am taking it out. Apparently, placing the bin outside for valet service to pick up at is a difficult- indeed, arduous- task. And the recycling? Despite having a recycling bin on the patio, it is left next to said trash bin- on the kitchen floor.
At the very least, he is paying his bills on time- which is all you can ask at minimum, I guess; the only tradeoff was coming home after working all day to playing Mom.
Now we have the third “roommate” who is just annoying as a he is- and is on the cusp of starting to use our laundry and basic utilities regularly. To clarify, if this is an emergency situation- I would have zero problem. Heck, when my Dad visits for a weekend during trips (an event given with a week’s notice), he does some laundry if need be.
So as I lay in bed, my ire drawing ever higher as it is now 2:30 am and I have to be up at 5 to get to the gym, have a solid breakfast and timely commute before rolling in to work at ten to 9, I reach over, grab my phone, and begin a text.
“I HAVE TO BE UP AT 5. KEEP IT THE HELL DOWN! “ is one thought that comes to mind, but that’s rude.
“Hey- can you please keep it down,” would suffice, but no emphasis on the blatant disregard for courtesy.
“I have to be up at 5 and am trying to sleep. If she could be please quiet down I would appreciate it.” Ah, there it is. Tact truly is a lost art.
Right before I hit send, I stop. I delete the whole thing.
You’re probably thinking “he just did all this bitching and finally gets to send the text message and doesn’t?! What a wimp!”
Her Fran Drescher laughs were drowned out as I lay gob smacked by the loud epiphany that opened the floodgates of memories and guilt – I was once that roommate.
Almost 4 years ago, I was living with two of my close friends, and one person that I had known from campus. I slacked off in my cleaning duties and left dishes piled up after cooking. Falling victim to the dangerous hookup culture, I would have wayward strangers over for relations that resulted in inconveniencing my roommates/friends at whatever hours of the night or morning. Our other roommate fumigated the lower level of the townhouse with marijuana, he even tried to sublet his room out, in blatant disregard of the lease. We had another roommate that would bring unnecessary drama and rude guests- of which I was guilty of also, at times- and would leave greasy, grimy food and materials out all over the counter.
At one point, I discovered that it is was quietly celebrated that I would be out of town; to be totally honest, I was not upset nor did I blame anyone other than me. In fact, I would have celebrated it too- because I do now when the manchild is away every other weekend.
It was no way to live, no way to treat friends, no way to act.
I have learned to forgive myself and atone by amending my life and ways. By the grace of God, I reconnected with one of the old roommates and closest of friends. With wounds healed and a bond resealed, we simply look back on this period- it could even be considered an era- and laugh.
Friends, until you’re really making bank and advancing yourself, you must accept the truth that the cost of independence sometimes comes with caveats at its inception. I can guarantee you, at some point, this newfound sense of freedom intersects with having a roommate. Recognize that two (or more) people occupy one living space. Be courteous, be kind, and be honest. Keep the drama outside; chances are, that person has something going on in their life and does not need your garbage flowing into their lot. Don’t feel bad sitting down and writing out a list of chores and dividing duties. Stay conscientious about utility usage and noise. Don’t feel bad about laying down the law with the lease either.
When in doubt, the Golden Rule is the sterling standard of human interaction action: treat others the way you want to be treated. We all fall short of this- what matters is how we rectify past actions, commit to ourselves to be better than we were, and exercise mercy abundantly- but also stand your ground (politely) if it becomes overbearing.
Communication, as DJ Khaled would advise, is a “major key” to enjoying your youthful independence and living peacefully with others.