I was extremely fortunate to be able to find an apartment in San Francisco – not the Bay Area, but the city – for less than $500/month ABP, and I didn’t have to be anyone’s man-whore. Bayview wasn’t exactly the ideal area and the house could have been cleaner, but I had my own room, Internet, and closet. That’s really all I needed to get out of debt.
Now for the downside. I didn’t exactly have the house to myself. Nor was I with respectful roommates. You see, I forgot just how terrible members of the human race can be (myself included) when stuffed into a cramped living situation together and everyone’s faults and quirks become everyone else’s problem. Having lived by myself for so long, I just naively assumed people who lived in a city that practically required you to have a few roommates would be capable of a little decency, respect, and consideration for others around them.
Not so much in my house.
Caleb was twenty, and the perfect embodiment of everything Louis CK is describing in the above clip. Although he certainly wasn’t evil in any sense of the word, he had a really funny idea of what was considerate behavior. The very first conversation we had together involved him trying to convince me he was going to making upwards of $100,000/year doing door-to-door sales, followed by him asking me how much I made. Later that year, as I making tea, he walked into the kitchen and spontaneously said he was going to become a porn star.
His profession and income didn’t bother me. What did was his refusal to ever clean up after himself and get mad when I asked him to. He rarely flushed the toilet. He blasted music late at night or early in the morning, never using earphones (“they hurt”), and acted completely indifferent when others told him to keep it down. He’d intentionally leave his door open as he was listening to music, knowing the noise was permeating the rest of the house. And through all of it, only a call to the landlady would get him to alter his behavior. Quite possibly one of the most conceited hypocritical boys I’ve ever met.
When I heard Caleb was leaving, I thought that might be an end to the madness… of course, he had to have introduced his dear friend JT to the building before his departure. I’ll admit, he had better hygiene and cleaning habits than his friend, but his attitude and ignorance about the rest of the world left me with little desire to socialize with him. And yet, that’s what he wanted; he made it clear this was going to be a household he would enjoy living in, and that required every roommate’s obedience to his desires: smoking together, spending time together.
When JT saw I wasn’t interested in this, he turned snarky, treating every encounter as a chance to use sarcasm and yell at me through the door. If I was the least bit intimidated by him, this might have worried me. As it stood, he was just coming across as a complete 20-year-old douchebag. I guess he had the right friend.
Mike was a different story altogether. Spending most of his time in his room, smoking pot and watching Law and Order SVU reruns, I rarely came across him unless Caleb and JT were in the house. He had a habit of hoarding dishes in his room, occasionally breaking ones I had bought then refusing to pay for them. Sometimes I would be awakened at 4 AM to the sound of his iTunes blasting something terrible. 4:00 AM, in a full house, and I need to ask you to turn it down? Really?
Though these three case studies tried my patience, there were two others who I was somewhat indifferent about. Nan was a Chinese exchange student. I would have loved to have spent more time speaking with him, but our schedules were pretty out of sync. When I did run into him on the weekends, I’d catch him listening to Mike explaining certain aspects of “American culture”… no wonder people abroad can be so misinformed. Nan was a nice enough guy, but he was a complete slob: his room was full of dirty dishes, sunflower seeds over the floor, clothes and books scattered everywhere.
Antonio was probably the most reclusive of all. He and I shared the house to ourselves for over two months, yet never had more than one or two conversations. On top of that, he had the room adjacent to mine, where the landlady had deemed it necessary to install a dividing wall in the middle of what once had been a master bedroom. Antonio got the heating vent in his enclosed space, which led to him always adjusting the thermostat to meet his needs, not those of the house. The sound of cursing outside my door when I brought the temperature up to a more reasonable level was common. Every night, I’d hear him playing computer games until three in the morning. Occasionally he’d yell into his phone about a family member in prison, and how he was trying to make a better life for himself in San Francisco.
When I finally left in June, every person in that house behaved as the perfect embodiment of the behavior I had observed. Nan was out. Antonio stayed in his room. Mike was watching TV. JT banged on my door and started shouting how I shouldn’t ignore him. Caleb, about to leave himself, just said “So Turner, today’s my last day. Yeah, my new place is twice the size and half the rent.”