Haunting housing situations remind us of how far we’ve come.
When NorthBay biz asked its readers to tell a story about their worst roommate ever, the answers varied from humorous to bizarre. Aside from the many who asked if ex-spouses counted or told us they’d never had a bad roommate, here’s a rundown of what we learned. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did.
I had a roommate my second year in college who found fault with anyone who didn’t clean the dishes properly. He got so fed up with having dirty dishes in the sink that he gathered up every cup, plate, knife and fork and hid them all. When we came back from class and asked where all of the dishes were, he said we’d lost the privilege of using nice dishes. We searched high and low for them but couldn’t find anything. He didn’t return them for two weeks.
My worst roommate ever was my first roommate ever. I went to college in Washington state and my new roomie was from the area. By the time I arrived to my dorm room with my stuff, she was already set up with a huge poster of Mark Harmon over her bed, neon bedding and flamingos everywhere! She’d covered most of the room with her “style.” Not such a great style match, but I thought, “OK, I can handle this.” She then turned out to be this overly bubbly, “Like, oh my gosh!” kind of girl. I couldn’t take it. We amicably decided we had better matches in our dorm and made a switch. Bye-bye, Mark! Bye-bye, flock of flamingos!
At age 19, my roommate Tom Meyer and I often played pranks on each other. One day, I was in my room with the door closed, playing my guitar (badly), when I was surprised by a pie plate full of firecrackers being slid under my door—with the fuse already burning. I, of course, responded in kind by setting his alarm clock four hours ahead and turning off the hot water to make sure his impending 2 a.m. shower was cold. These challenges often went on for weeks.
When I was 19, I moved from Fortuna to live on the sunnier side of California, Santa Rosa. I lived with four roommates in a three-bedroom apartment. I had the downstairs bedroom all to myself. Because we were young and dumb, we left our front door unlocked. One Saturday night, I woke up (at about 2 a.m.) to three large, thuggish girls wanting to beat me up. Come to find out, they were there to beat up my roommate, as she was messing around with an already-spoken-for guy. I learned that the “cheated on girlfriend” had sent them. I was able to talk my way out of the situation when they realized they had the wrong resident. (P.S. The right roommate was sleeping over at a new boyfriend’s house and wasn’t even home!)
I was a struggling law student at Delaware Law School in Wilmington, Del., now part of Widener University. “Kelly Smith” was in my class and hailed from Northern N.J., where her older brother was a big-time lawyer. (I’ve changed her name to protect myself, since she’s now district attorney in a large New Jersey city.) Boy, did she up the ante on the phrase, “uptight chick.”
She’d make huge pots of escarole and, since she was Irish, not Italian, it was horrible. She was really into ingesting all that spinach for brain power. She was very pretty but said “no” to everyone who ever asked her out. She’d put on her pajamas and study all weekend long, while taking an occasional break to brush her long, dark brown hair 100 strokes per session. (I could see her counting them to herself.)
This put an incredible cramp into my social life; it was my most boring spate of being single because cray-cray wanted no visitors—ever.
After a few months, she told me I wasn’t serious enough about my studies, and she moved out. She never married. I’ll even bet she brushes her hair 100 strokes between court appearances!
As my freshman year in college approached, there was nothing more that I was looking forward to than moving out of my parents’ house and in to a dorm. Moving day came and my parents and I trekked the long journey (45 minutes) to my new home. Walking down my residence hall, I could hear loud bickering, and said a silent prayer that it wasn’t coming from my room. But, alas, it was.
We got the introductions out of the way and the unpacking began. My roommate’s mom started to make small talk and asked me, “Do you like to sleep?” With a puzzled face, I answered, “Yes?” and, she said, “Well, Samantha snores so you should invest in some earplugs.” Had I known that was going to be an indicator of what the rest of the year was going to be like, I’d have requested a new roommate then and there.
Throughout the year, I was plagued with the sounds of a freight train in my room while I tried to sleep. It was horrible and I’m pretty sure it still haunts me to this day. As if being sleep-deprived weren’t enough, I noticed she’d borrow my clothes, which is fine, except that she’d return them with pit stains and smelling like body odor mixed with Febreeze. Being that I don’t like confrontation, I decided I wouldn’t make a big of it and just wash the clothes—only to discover all the change in my quarter jar was empty.
After winter break, I came back to the dorm only to find the whole room rearranged and a stranger sleeping on my bed. I stormed down to the dean’s office and told her about everything I’d gone through. She called my roommate in to her office and tried to settle things between the two of us. My roommate ended up denying everything I said about her, thus making me sound like a liar. Then she stopped speaking to or acknowledging me for the rest of the school year. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than living with a person who doesn’t want anything to do with you.
While attending Cal Poly SLO, I met what seemed to be a nice girl and ended up becoming roommates with her. I should have seen the writing on the wall when she asked me to serve papers to her former roommate, who she was suing! That former roommate tried to tell me the girl was completely nuts.
When my roommate and I had a falling out and I’d planned to go home for spring break, I made sure to lock my door when I left. When I returned, she’d taken all of my food in the refrigerator and the cupboards and any of my belongings in the bathroom and put them in a garbage bag in my room. She’d broken the lock on my bedroom door to get in and, while she was there, she crawled underneath my bed to access the telephone wires in the wall (yes a real telephone plugged into the wall) and clipped them so I couldn’t make any calls (this was long before cell phones).
Needless to say, I moved out very quickly and broke all ties with that crazy girl. I even went so far as to cut her out of every photo I had of her and me. I heard she went on to be a preschool teacher, which is absolutely frightening!
At 18, I moved to London and worked at as front desk receptionist at an exclusive hotel in the suburbs. The owner, Mr. Balata, was a feisty Italian man of great stature who also owned a large flat above a launderette a few streets away, which he kept for the staff.
Initially, I shared a room with a gal from Scotland who was loads of fun, but she left abruptly (as many did in this industry), and I ended up sharing with a girl named Tracey. Tracey was tall drink of water, with bright red hair, freckles and a rather angular face. She wasn’t particularly friendly. In fact, there was nothing warm and fuzzy about her. She came and went, as I did, and we didn’t interact much. Although our room was large, it didn’t seem large enough for Tracey, as she was incredibly messy, throwing clothes all over the room (on my side, too) and had a horrible habit of leaving half-eaten food all over the place.
The hotel was a hub for staff from all over Europe. Many were from France, and one of them stood out—Bruno. He was quite the Casanova, handsome and charming and obviously had a way with the ladies. I brushed off his advances and ignored him most of the time. For some reason, he liked that and pursued me more and more. After about six weeks, I gave in and we became an item.
This is when the roommate situation became a nightmare. I remember the first morning after coming in from a very late night out with Bruno, I woke to a mouthful of hairspray! Tracey was furiously spraying her hair right next to my bed and the fallout of the spray filled my mouth—almost choking me. I let it go but noticed daily that she’d become snappy and kind of mean. I was happy in my little world, so I ignored her. But then the barrage started. I found holes in my clothes, coffee stains on clean white shirts (I didn't drink coffee), lipsticks snapped off the base, jewelry either broken or bent, even a heel snapped off my shoe. I knew it had to be Tracey, but why and what was I to do?
I told Mr. Balata’s wife and, to my astonishment, she divulged Tracey had had a one-night stand with Bruno way before I ever arrived, and she’d wanted more—but he didn’t. So I opened up the conversation with Tracey and the war broke out. She hated my guts all because of a guy. I insisted on moving into the hotel for a little while until another room became available.
I'm glad I got to live to tell the story. Bruno and I were together for two years. We ended up moving to France. But when he mentioned marriage, I ran back to the United Kingdom. Strangely enough, he found me on Facebook 33 years later. He’s happily married and living in Belgium.
My worst roommate ever was a mid-30s female who became unemployed right after she moved in. She couldn’t find a job. She’d just sit on the floor in front of the coffee table, eat all day and watch “Family Guy.” Finally, she went out to a job interview at Safeway to work in the deli. She got the job. I congratulated her, but she complained because it was a whopping seven-mile “commute.” She’d walk around with such heavy steps that it sounded like Bigfoot was in the house. She used to eat my food, claiming that’s “what roommates do.” I finally asked her to leave after just three months. I’m still in therapy over it.
I had two roommates while serving in the U.S. Army 218th Military Police Company in Augsburg, Germany, in 1984. The three of us came from different backgrounds. It’s imperative while serving in the military that your room is maintained in a clean and orderly manner. And although the three of us had very different styles, eventually we developed a system that let us maintain a clean and orderly room that kept us from having to perform extra duty. It might have had something to do with the First Sergeant finding his favorite beer in our mini-fridge at all times.
I once shared a hotel room with a woman who snored. I took a night flight into Chicago to give a speech in Wisconsin the next day. I missed the last bus to Wisconsin at 11 p.m., so I had to rent a car and drive there. My sense of direction is challenged, so it took me twice the amount of time to find my way. By the time I got to the hotel room that I was sharing with another speaker, I was exhausted. I finally got to bed, but I never slept. She snored loudly all night.
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Located at 1410 Neotomas Ave. in Santa Rosa,NorthBay biz magazine is a monthly business-to-business publication covering Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. This year, the magazine is celebrating 43 years of continuous operation. It originally hit the stands in 1975, when it was called Sonoma Business, and only covered Sonoma County. Norm and Joni Rosinski and John Dennis, acquired it in 2000 and changed its name to cover an expanded market. Today, the magazine is part of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. More here..