I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. See, if you’ve been reading this blog or have interacted with me in person or maybe have just talked to someone who has talked to me over the past few weeks and is marveling at how intensely I dislike my roommate, you probably know that I intensely dislike my roommate. I kept hoping that he’d mellow out. I figured that surely, given time, he would see how absurd it is to yell at somebody for leaving a dishrag hanging from the refrigerator door handle because that makes getting to it easier than placing it on top of the fridge. But no. This man has just turned 30 (I think), has a Ph.D (or at least some sort of postgraduate degree) and is apparently capable of tying his own shoes, yet has no idea how to live with another human being. So I’m going to tell this story in the form of advice for anyone who is still learning how to live with a roommate.
If you’ve ever lived alone, you are probably used to having everything just the way you like it. You never have to wait to use the bathroom, the oven, or the TV (if you still own one). However, living with another person complicates things, in the sense that there is another human being present and that human being has just as many desires, hopes, and dreams as you do. Negotiating any conflicting living habits can be tricky, so let me provide some helpful tips:
1. If you want to use the bathroom, but your roommate is inside, wait. You might feel that you absolutely have to shower, shit, and shave right this instant, but your roommate would probably feel the same way if you were in the bathroom. So observe the Golden Rule. If your roommate is in the bathroom for a long time (45 minutes, let’s say) or if you really need to relieve yourself right this instant, it is acceptable to knock and ask them to get out. Politely. Under no circumstances should you demand that they get out just because they got up before you did and you have work this morning. You need to plan for shit like this. Speaking of which…
2. If your roommate, in an unimaginable act of generosity, decides to get out of the bathroom even though he was just about to step into the shower and he’s pretty sure you said you weren’t going to get up until later (which is exactly why he got in the bathroom so early in the first place), do not scold him for showing “attitude”. If he tells you that you are the one showing attitude, consider the possibility that he is right. Do not under any circumstances start knocking stuff over, screaming and yelling because you can’t believe your
subordinate roommate would speak to you that way. They are, as I have already explained, a person. People like to be treated with respect.
3. If you do start screaming and yelling at your roommate over something that petty and childish, apologize immediately. By that point, you’ve probably burned your bridges already, but there might be a faint hope of reconciliation if you show that you value their presence and are perfectly willing to compromise on some things in order to keep them happy. Don’t just insist that they don’t do “it” again (especially when “it” is something like closing the bathroom window when they shower and forgetting to open it again). There is this thing called “force of habit”. If a person is used to doing things a certain way, it might take them a while to adjust to a new way. Be patient. A few gentle reminders might be acceptable, but if you’re banging on their door multiple times a night because they put the toilet cover down (or something equally minor), sit down and rethink your priorities. Take a good, long time to ponder. Your roommate will appreciate the respite.
The long and the short of it is that I’m moving out. I was going to get a job, furnish my place, and settle down, but this guy has made it impossible. He’s a nightmare. Never in all my years have I seen a grown man act the way he did this morning. It was fucking unreal. Since I never signed a lease, I’m pretty sure I can just back out. I’ll pay rent for September just to give him time to find somebody else (good luck finding someone who will put up with this bullshit, bub) and move back in with my father in California. (My father, thankfully, took the news well.) I plan on returning to NYC someday. Maybe this time I’ll get a place in Brooklyn. But for now, the plan is to put all of my shit in storage, fly back (probably next week, as I have to say goodbye to some people), get a job, save up, then come back here when I have enough money that my need to find a place right fucking now isn’t so dire. Six months, maybe? A year? I don’t know. But believe me: I will be back. I was borderline homeless for a week or two last year. I considered dropping out of school. When a bizarre incident took care of that problem (see: “Disclosure”), I decided that the Flying Spaghetti Monster wanted me to stay in New York. Perhaps it would send ninjas after me if I left. I think I can handle the ninjas now.
Every time I told my roommate to be patient or that he didn’t need to make this big of a deal out of something, he responded that I was showing him “attitude”. What is this, one of those old English primary schools where kids could get caned just for talking back? My attitude isn’t the problem. My not wanting to roll over dead is.
Try not to worry about me. I’ll be okay, I think. I’m still rattled by all this drama, but I’ll get over it. At least now my roommate won’t have to worry about anyone leaving the toilet lid down. It’s what he really wants, isn’t it?
I’ve never been to Burning Man, but I like this video. I can’t imagine why I’d be thinking of it now.