The “Roommate Rage” Edition

In Advice, Funny, Life, People, question, Relationships on November 28, 2007 at 10:30 pm

Two questions came my way about dealing with roommates this week. Hear that? Two. That’s one more than one! Clearly people are hurting, and it’s up to me to help.

First, Zatylia, from the Umbrella Corporation, wrote:

Dear Ally,

Thank God you are back from your hiatus. I felt incomplete.

Question: how do you tell a roommate that his music sucks? Keep in mind I’m passive aggressive!



Second, Tired and Cranky desperately asked:

Dear Ally,

How do you tell a roommate that you hate when her boyfriend is over because because you can’t get to sleep? Without causing a fight, that is.

Tired and Cranky (…I like sleep).

*   *   *   *   *

Ah, my dearest Zatylia and Ms. Cranky – how much I do sympathize with you.

I must tell you a tiny little secret – but be careful not to repeat it, lest it get back to the wrong ears: I too have suffered through the abominable hell of roommates. Don’t even get me started on the gaggle I managed to rope together last year! What a bunch of horrible old hags they were! Noisy, disrespectful, generally inconsiderate both of my private property and my personal space, and not to mention their almost complete and total lack of attention to hygiene!

Oh boy, they were a rough lot. And of course, like each of you, I was quite the passive aggressive roommate! How could I even think of confronting roommate number one for constantly devouring my favourite sugary cereals, or using my textbooks as colouring books!? Or roommate number two’s strange tendency to keep me awake at all hours of the night with queer noises – and not the fun kind that I dream of sharing with one Mr. Ralph Fiennes, let me assure you.

So what are roommates like ourselves supposed to do? Relax, my friends. I sense some strange bond of comradeship with the two of you and our uniquely similar plights (almost as if we were in this together, bonding against a nameless foe). I shall take you by the hand and lead you to redemption! For I am Spartacus, I mean, Ally.

Right – first off, shitty music. People seem to become strangely attached to their music – it’s almost as if they think music relates to their sense of themselves or some crap like that. Personally, I’ve never really understood the connection, although it is true that, being so awesome myself, I have always found the music I listen to to reflect those same awesome values. But I’m pretty sure I’m a unique case in that respect.

Still, informing a roommate that his music sucks -actual- balls can result in their harbouring a lifelong resentment towards you. So what can you do? If they have hope – if they seem semi-receptive and aren’t a complete and total failure, you can always try and change their music tastes to something less offensive.
Invent non-existent correlations between their crap and better music, and then make suggestions like “hey, I notice that you listen to a lot of *insert shitty band here*! I was thinking that you might really like *insert less shitty band here*, since they have a similar sound, only with a not-absolute-crap influence”

Of course, sometimes people just don’t get the hint, in which case you might have to start voicing your personal opinion – just be sure to do it in the most polite and unoffensive way possible. For example, do not say”I f***ing hate this band – God they’re bad! How could you listen to such a horrible band? You really must be a knob to listen to this band”.

You could always try and find common ground. Mention some of the music you’re into that you think they might also like, or have liked at one point, and see if there’s any similarities.
Then, if he happens to be playing his music quite loud, it can often be quite effective to come in and say “man, I’d love to hear some *insert musician’s name* – and I know you’ve got some! Put it on and lets ‘rock this here joint’ or some similar activity involving a shared enjoyment of musical sounds!”

However, sometimes a roommate is just truly hopeless. I have found, in such instances, the following technique to be useful:
~ Download sound file of peacocks screaming

~ Record file into the format required to play it with the best speaker system available to you

~ Place speakers as near as possible to the roommate in question’s living area

~ Play on repeat at near top volume

~ When roommate asks irritably who is murdering children, simply explain that this is this new, indie sound you’re really getting into, and point out that it’s no more offensive than the music he listens to – in fact, it’s probably less so. Invite him to perform sexual activities upon himself, and turn up the volume until the speakers blow or he learns his lesson. Or until the police show up.

When it comes to the boyfriend/girlfriend question, it can be even more difficult to raise your concerns. For some even sillier reason, people are also attached to their significant other, even moreso than to their music. Now that just doesn’t make sense!

In this situation the best way is to be upfront and honest, and perhaps to avoid specifics. Perhaps instead of sitting your roommate down and telling her that you hate her boyfriend and his noisy self it would be better to say “Lately I’ve been finding that the walls in this place are pretty thin. Could you please try and keep it down once I’ve gone to bed? If I start losing out on sleep then I’ll get cranky and that’s no good for anyone”

Make sure that your roommate understands that it’s not that you have a problem with her or her boyfriend, but that the noise is more noticeable when he is over. Also make sure she knows that you are just concerned with sleep and with being cranky and less than your amazing self the next day (not cool for anyone involved, right?).

This is all assuming a relatively friendly relationship with your roommate, which may or may not exist. If it doesn’t, you could always pull a few of my passive aggressive favourites, including “banging on the wall with a broom handle,” “prank calling them from my cell phone,” “calling the cops on them anonymously for disturbing the peace,” and “did anyone order a Molotov cocktail?” Warning: that last can be dangerous for your own personal property and your criminal record.

I understand, I do.

Just thank whatever relevant God is out there that your roommates are nowhere near as barbaric as mine were last year. I don’t know or care how bad your situation is at the moment, I can guarantee that mine was a thousand times worse. For serial. Can anyone say sitcom? No, it wouldn’t be a sitcom – it’d be a horror flick. Yeah – that bad. Including the maggots, and the arterial spray.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars that I managed to make it through that year of hell. And if I can make it through that rancid mess, I have faith that you two can both overcome your own house-mate hurdles!

Until next time!

  1. ally,
    i’m sure that Zatylia will uese your helpful advice. and i know that your roommates from last were crappy. i’ve heard the stories. you will never believe how bad mine were. i mean their cheerful demeanor, the constant fun they were always having and the general awesomeness that surrounded them became very tiring.
    but i survived!

    thanks again for your helpful advice!

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