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Rental Apartments Chicago Rogers Park  Evanston
(773) 761-3300 FAX: 773) 465-7733
7601 North Eastlake Terrace Chicago, IL 60626
Roommates from Hell
by: Miss Calculation
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.
THE STERILE HYGENIST 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.
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.
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.
THE SLOB 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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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.