Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Special: Living With Roommates: A Dream or a Nightmare?

Photographed by Sam Lewis.

Beware of Scammers

I share a common nightmare with most other college students: adding to the student loan debt I’m already in. However, by the end of freshman year a common dream I share is getting out of the dorms. Where do I go? Craigslist. Everyone uses it, right? That’s right, everyone—including people with the same moral values as your average bank robber. So I followed the hordes and got the Brooklyn apartment, signed the lease, and went back to Craigslist to sublet the apartment for the summer, until school begins again in the fall. Now I’m not more gullible than the average person, and I’m smart enough to be in college. So when I got huge checks in the mail from potential roomers I had been corresponding with for three weeks (via internet and phone), I thought if anything they were the idiots in the situation. They sent me, a total stranger, a check for three grand, and trusted that I would keep the first month’s rent and send the rest of the money back to them. I should have know it was too good to be true… A week or so later, after most of the money had been transferred back to them (and how unfortunate, they can’t sublet anymore due to a “fatal family car crash”), the check bounces and my bank account is drained. I barely had anything in the account to begin with, so one morning I woke up to discover the amount had plummeted into the negative thousands. This may all seem like an obvious plot, but I can promise you these people are great at what they do and it really only takes one hopeful college student desperate to sublet, to run such a scam. So yes, everyone uses Craigslist, but not everyone has three grand to send you or the ethical standards to let you know if they don’t. Now I’m stuck with more debt to pay off, rooms to sublet, and police reports to file.
—Pip K. Francis

Extreme Actress
Imagine coming home from a sunny day in the park to find that your roommate has separated the fridge into two with tape to ensure that you wouldn’t touch any of her precious macrobiotic food. Well, if your roommate’s a self-absorbed anorexic actress, this is what happens. But it didn’t stop there—imagine visits from her porky Russian mother who critically asked, “Are you really going to eat that?” to whatever your dinner was. What about your roommate installing a lock on her bedroom door to ensure that you didn’t steal her quarters for your laundry? Well, that was my roommate freshman year. My only advice, avoid actresses.
—Barbara Nauhu
Union Square Hardcore
During my freshman year, the four floors of apartment style dorms in Union Square had more disciplinary write-ups than any of the other, much larger, residence halls. At the center of this maelstrom was my apartment. Two of my five apartment mates were older, hardcore kids from Philly who had recently graduated from straight-edge to binge drinkers. One was big and stoic, the other small and loud-mouthed—I’ll call him Napoleon. Because of my dread-locks, he referred to me exclusively as ‘shit-locks’ and constantly threatened to shit in my pillowcase.

Early on, somebody found a box of terrible records on the street. Three hours and a dozen 40s later, we were smashing records across each other and throwing the jagged pieces like death Frisbees, embedding them in the walls. Breaking things became a nightly tradition. As we weren’t cleaning up after ourselves, the task soon became insurmountable. The funny part was that other people loved hanging out there. The ‘anything goes’ atmosphere attracted freshman like a carcass attracts flies. At times, people brought things over for us to smash. When guests left items, especially cell-phones, we would glue them to the ceiling.

One incident was too gross to be proud of or ignore. The shower drain had been slowing down for a long time and when it finally stopped up—I’m not making this up—white, crawly, worm-like creatures emerged from the grate. We called the maintenance guy.

By the end of the school year, Napoleon never had lived up to his word about defecating in my pillowcase. When all was said and done, I proved to be the bravest. No one else thought it was possible to extract the dishes or appliances from the layers of grime. I took the bet and walked away with a full kitchen set, including a toaster and microwave.
—Alex Waddell

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