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Roommates from Hell
by: Miss Calculation

 She will make you dread coming home.

Some people are picky about partners; others are picky about food. Me, I’m picky about who I live with. OK, so you can be lucky and strike gold, landing someone who pays bills on time, cooks a cannelloni to die for and is pals with the hippest folk on the north side. However, should you get dished a dud, don’t despair: there are ways to handle your hellish roommates.

In Kiev, I lived with a girl who would get a murderous look in her eye if a dirty teacup was left in the sink. We all feared the worst when she was assigned to bathroom duties as every bottle of shampoo, body wash or lotion in sight would be sent flying out of the bathroom door like a cruise missile. Later, we’d go and rescue our toiletries from whence they lay – or worse, fish them out of the trash and put them back on the shelf.

Finally we decided the Sterile Hygienist had to be confronted. I drew the short straw. Having long worked with fear tactics, she proved impervious to my logic and reason. Left with no other choice, I told her bluntly to stop terrorizing everyone, or we'd vote her out. The bully backed off, and we never had to fish our toiletries out of the trash again.

How to spot them: It’s hard to miss their constant mutter about clutter, or the sudden Clean Sweep Missions on which they frequently embark.

How to fix them: Most SH’s are bullies, so standing up to them is the key. Face issues head on and don’t waver – stand your ground.

 She will make you dread coming home.

Unable to see the point of washing dishes, the Slob with whom I had the misfortune to live several years ago used paper plates instead. A sweet, sweaty smell lingered around her and her jeans were almost damp they were so grimy. She would shower once every two days if we were lucky, but never used soap, even when we placed enticingly new bars in the shower and near the bathtub. This meant she never quite smelled clean. She was a lovely girl, but we weren’t sad to see her go when she decided to pack her possessions in his backpack and take off to see the world. If anything, we were glad to see an end to those piles of paper plates.

How to spot them: Sadly, the Slob has yet to learn about the benefits of water and has many antisocial habits. These include disposing of the contents of his/her nose onto the sofa, turning his/her underwear inside out for a few days’ extra wear, or forgetting to flush the toilet.

How to fix them: Most Slobs are blissfully unaware of the effect they have on other members of the household, and thus find it hard to change. Start by tossing any paper plates in residence, insisting on daily showers for all housemembers and if the Slob can manage that, it’s well on its way to reform.

 You can trust me... 3. THE BORROWER
Manifested in various forms, the Borrower shows its true colors slowly. There’s the type that actually asks, constantly putting you on the spot so you’re forced to say yes. New jeans – yes. Make up remover – yes. Last of your treasured breakfast cereal – yes. Yes! Yes! Yes! This pattern continues until there is nothing left – the Borrower has literally sucked you dry!

Then there’s the sneakier type of Borrower, the sort who conveniently "forgets" to ask. Slowly you realize your new shampoo is approaching empty. Your favorite biscuits are a sorry mess of crumbs still sitting in the packet. And your wardrobe now consists of exactly one pair of undies, a dirty T-shirt, and a single tartan sock. At that point, you realize the Borrower has blown town (and probably borrowed some money for the trip).

How to spot them: Borrowers are always slurping surreptitiously from other people’s orange juice cartons, pinching cigarettes or eating leftovers. Most live by the motto: ‘They’ll never notice if I just take/eat/slurp that.’

How to fix them: It would be fine if Borrowers occasionally bought a case of beer for the house, but they never do. There are two solutions for living with Borrowers. 1) Hide your stuff. They’ll be stumped for a while, but it’ll force them to buy their own shampoo/moisturiser/jelly beans. 2) Organize a central house fund to which everyone contributes to pay for basic items, so the Borrower is forced to pay his/her own way.

 She will make you dread coming home. 4. THE UNPAYING TENANT
OK, OK. I admit to having been one of these myself, in my youth. I lived at home with my parents and was so desperately in love/lust with my then boyfriend that I spent every night at his house. I had the sneaking-back-home-by daybreak thing down pat. But having since suffered many Unpaying Tenants as a bona fide paying tenant, I now understand why the UT can be such a nuisance. The Unpaying Tenant is usually the lover of someone who officially lives in the house, and slinks in each night at around 11pm. Thin walls make Unpaying Tenants more bothersome, but it’s a tricky one to deal with. Your roommates’ lovers invariably fall under a certain unwritten roommate code: "Don't make trouble, in case your turn to get lucky comes next". Who’d want to jinx that?

How to spot them: They’re crafty and very good at tiptoeing. However, any manic laughter or squeals of pleasure going on behind closed doors can almost certainly be blamed on the Unpaying Tenant.

How to fix them: You can’t, unless the entire house gets sick of it. The code works like a charm in share-households all over the world. However, if a UT is really getting to you, suggest (nicely) to their associated Paying Tenant that they might want to chip in some extra rent. Even if your position creates some discomfort, I guarantee those extra visits to your apartment will lessen.

 Don't use the air conditioner...it's only 95 degrees in here. 5. THE TIGHTWAD
Tightwads in the day-to-day scheme of living are bad enough, but when you actually have to share a home with one it can become unbearable. There are two kinds of Tightwads. There’s the type who genuinely have limited funds, but don’t consider ordering a round at the pub a move to file for bankruptcy. These Tightwads, while annoying at times, can usually be tolerated.

The other type is the Tightwad as a "personality-type." Separate condiments and sauces are fine, but there are roommates out there who insist not only on individual bread and milk, but separate toilet paper to everyone else. This kind of Tightwad is a master at dividing the household, because everyone else soon catches the disease – "I loaned you ten cents last week, didn’t I? Yes I did, so pay up now, you’ve had long enough to get it."

How to spot them: Tightwads quibble. They quibble over rent and bills. They remember when they bought a bottle of toilet cleaner three months ago and that’s why it’s your turn this time. They halve everything clean down the middle, and never fail to collect every cent they ever lend.

How to fix them: For basic items, some Tightwads will agree to the pooling-household-funds plan, and it does keep annoying money conversations to a minimum (simply work out how much bills/basic items cost per week, ask everyone to contribute to cover the cost). However, when mysterious measuring lines appear on the outside of the milk cartons and who last bought the Kleenex box becomes a regular breakfast table discussion topic, I’ve only one thing to say. Ditch the Tightwad and welcome serenity back into your household.

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