Trust Your Instincts

Back when I was in college the first time, I was renting the top floor of a Victorian house just a few blocks away from campus. It had two bedrooms, so I decided to look for a roommate to split expenses. Based on the advice of a friend, I settled on a young, outgoing, very upbeat girl. My friend knew me for the quiet homebody that I was, and she said that someone that outgoing would probably never be home, and that would suit me perfectly.

Thus began one of the worst roommate experiences of my life.

She was, indeed, a social butterfly, but she’d often bring that back home with her, and she wasn’t a very discriminating person. When I tripped over the scruffy older man sleeping in my hallway and I asked her who it was, she said she didn’t know his name. She had met him the night before and he needed a place to crash. She didn’t think I’d mind.

Other times, I’d come home from work and find the apartment full of giggling girls who were helping themselves to my groceries. These same girls often blew the fuses in the house because, for some reason, they all seemed to come equipped with hair dryers, and insisted on using them simultaneously, as one does, apparently, before a night on the town.

She also ran up the phone bill so high that the phone company started billing us every two weeks rather than monthly, and she was racking up late fees.

Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore, and I told her she’d have to find someplace else to live. I decided that this would be my last roommate ever. But friends told me I should try again. Think of the money I’d save! So, in this time before internet, I reluctantly posted a note on the campus bulletin board.

A guy responded. He was a student whom I’d never met. I hadn’t really specified a gender preference, but this made me mildly uncomfortable. But it was separate bedrooms, after all, so I figured I’d at least talk to him.

When he came over, he brought another friend. And they were big. I got this really uncomfortable vibe from both of them. They felt dangerous. He said he needed an answer right that very second, but I told him I’d have to think about it. He tried to intimidate me. If he was that bad on a first meeting, I couldn’t imagine what living with him would be like. So I trusted my instincts and said no.

The next day there was an anonymous note in my campus mailbox. “I’m going to kill you,” it said. My blood ran cold.

I took it to the Dean of students, and he looked at that guy’s student records, and the handwriting matched. He also said that the reason this guy was looking for a place to live in such a hurry was that he had been kicked out of the dormitory for destruction of property. The Dean had a little chat with him, and I never heard from him again.

I guess the moral of the story is that getting advice from friends is nice, but always, always trust your instincts.

I haven’t lived with anyone unless we were in a romantic relationship since that day. Unless you count my dogs. They’re excellent roommates.


Trust me. You’ll want a copy of this book.


4 thoughts on “Trust Your Instincts

  1. Sam Ramirez

    I can relate Barb. I’ve had many nightmarish roommate experiences. I tried living in the college dorm for a few months, but soon tired of the lack of privacy and my loud roommates. For some reason, they enjoyed practicing a nightly ritual of smashing the wooden desk chairs to bits after getting a little drunk. So, I decided to share an apartment with a classmate I had met in the drama dept. The apartment we shared was above an auto repair shop, just across the river from Saint Augustine. It sounds gritty, but was actually quite nice,with two large bedrooms and a beautiful view of the Matanzas River and the Bridge of Lions. One day, a neatly dressed man with a clipboard knocked on the door and began asking me several questions about about my roommate. Strangely enough, he seemed to know a lot about me, too. When my roommate returned home, he informed me that the visitor was his parole officer. He said he had gotten drunk one night and decided to steal a truck from a construction site and drive it through a chain link fence. He was also dating a judge’s daughter who was after him to “break his legs.” Then, his overnight guests began arriving. I once walked into the bathroom to find a strange woman sitting in there. He also enjoyed rearranging and using my room when I wasn’t home. When I told him I wanted to move out, he couldn’t understand it and seemed a little shocked. I have a million more roommate stories (One roommate in Minnesota wanted to borrow my car to “run some errands” all night. A roommate in Brooklyn accused me of destroying her tacky paper lantern in the kitchen during a supposed, violent cleaning frenzy with a out of control broom. When I moved to NYC to attend grad school, I decided that my next roommate would be my wife. My friends in NYC said that I’d never be able to afford a place in NYC on my own and that “everybody has roommates.” But, I did find my own place and have been here many years. No parole officers checking on my roommate, no strange people sitting in the bathroom, no wooden chairs pulverized into kindling for my fireplace….

  2. Pingback: Op zoek naar een God boven alle goden – Questiontime – Vragenuurtje

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