I never lived in a dorm in college. Sometimes I wondered if I’d been cheated the experience. Mostly I was just grateful.
I think I’m making up for it now.
Currently I share a two bedroom apartment with two young girls; we’ll call them Amy and Becky. I want to clarify that my roommates are both perfectly nice girls, they just have a fair amount of quirks that, when combined, test my tolerance for people (which is admittedly very low to begin with). Now, I know I’m hardly the perfect roommate, and I know I have my own slew of flaws, but these girls seem to be lacking the sort of common sense that generally comes with age. Granted, I’m only a few years older than them, but I’m aware of the fact that we’re all in the general age range where a few years makes a world of difference.
I honestly haven’t talked to my roommates much in our six months of living together, but I’m assuming that this is their first time living away from home. And there are little things, and big things, that just make me scratch my head. The first day they moved in, Becky exclaimed that yay, we have a dishwasher!, to which Amy replied that she doesn’t like to use dishwashers because they don’t get the dishes clean enough. Which is painfully ironic now, six months later, because washing dishes has been one of the constant battles I’ve had with them.
Admittedly I’m a bit lax, too, with washing dishes, especially when it’s been a long night and I just want to go to bed, but I’ll do them eventually, usually the morning after. But apparently their standards for washing dishes are even laxer than mine, and I found that, day by day, I seemed to be the one who was always washing dishes, although I definitely wasn’t the only one dirtying them. Now, I’m not a confrontational person, although I do have a recent tendency towards passive aggressiveness, which is surprisingly ineffective. I tried dropping hints, making casual remarks along the lines of, hey, the rice cooker has been sitting in the sink for two weeks now, do you think you might wash it? And I’d get a shrug in reply, and a week later the rice cooker would still be sitting there in a murky pile of water, which isn’t a big deal because I’m not that much of a fan of rice anyway, but it’s the principle of the thing. So finally I made the decision that I just wasn’t going to wash dishes anymore, except for those I needed at that particular moment of cooking. The sink piled up, and I found more and more creative ways of eating my meals out of coffee cups and plastic containers; and meanwhile my roommates seemed to be eating a lot of takeout. We were at a stalemate, and the worst part of it all was that I was the only one really suffering.
A month this went on. I was ready to call it quits, to throw in the towel, or rather, pick up the dishrag. And then late one night, while tolling away at my computer (I think it was November and I was frantically novel writing) a miraculous sound met my ears. The whoosh of water, the clatter of china. Amy was washing the dishes! Once the noise ceased I tip-toed out into the kitchen, and there it was, like Christmas day, an empty sink and full draining board. Delighted, I dried the dishes, put them away, then gathered some leftover Halloween candy into a little bag and attached to it a note: “Thank you for washing the dishes.” I left it on the kitchen table, and nothing else was said about the incident. I still wash most of the dishes.
Amy isn’t necessarily a bad roommate, she just has these strange little quirks that I can’t quite understand. Like her obsession with vacuuming. At 11pm. On a Tuesday. Right outside my bedroom. The thing is, it’s not that she’s a particularly clean person. I once asked her how she can stand to always be eating over her laptop, what with the crumbs, and she replied that she wasn’t concerned, if it got too dirty she’d just buy a new one. (Just buy a new one! I guess that’s the other difference between myself and my roommates.) And the kitchen table, which is her main place to sit, is covered, not only in books and papers, but sticky stains of meals long past. Now I may be a messy person, but it’s mostly paper and clutter. I can’t handle food mess. It attracts cockroaches. Which I’m incredibly lucky that this apartment has never had, especially considering that Amy likes to leave food sitting out overnight. (It has been suggested that perhaps the insects are afraid of my roommates.) I once asked her if she wasn’t concerned about it spoiling, and she shrugged and replied that, no, she wasn’t. I really think things like sanitation and consideration just don’t occur to her. I confronted her one night, during her 11pm vacuuming, and suggested that maybe the person who lived below us might not appreciate the noise on their ceiling while they were trying to sleep. She gave me a bewildered look, said she was just finishing up, and hasn’t vacuumed since.
To be continued..