Person – The Average Housemate

This blog post was written by Lincoln about our housemate in Marina, who for the sake of privacy, will be referred to as Person.

When we first moved in, Person painted a picture of himself as a guy who loved spending time with friends and family, studying and cooking. He also made a point of telling us that he didn’t drink much. Firstly, during our 4 months with him, he attended four social gatherings and visited his family twice. He would play video games for hours on end instead of going to work, socialising or studying, and he ended up failing multiple college classes and losing his job. Additionally, he cooked maybe five times during our time with him, and I’d say four of those times were when his girlfriend had come to stay. I’ve never seen someone eat so much fast food. Lastly, he would drink alcohol two or three times a week and leave empty bottles all over the living room. Person could never afford anything but he always managed to have beer when he wanted it. I understand that alcohol is a priority for some, but maybe he would have had more money if he bought something cheap in bulk instead of a 6-pack of craft beer each time he wanted to drink. Also, one time we went with him and his girlfriend to a gathering in Carmel-by-the-sea, and he was pulled over by a cop. It turned out that he was over the blood-alcohol limit. Luckily, the cop was feeling generous and let him off with a warning, but quietly I never forgave him for this incident, as we could’ve been killed. Needless to say, he was not the person he made himself out to be in the beginning.

The living room was essentially an extension of Person’s bedroom. He would take off his pants whilst playing video games and leave them in a heap on the floor. He left mugs of old soggy tea leaves on the coffee table next to his beer bottles and empty chip packets. Sometimes these mugs would grow mould. In fact, one mug was left to grow in the kitchen, and we made a point of working around it just to see how long he would leave it (it was 5 weeks). He would leave dirty dishes in the kitchen sink (something I repeatedly asked him not to do) and I moved them to a corner of the bench. Eventually his pile would build up and he would send me a message, “whose dishes are those in the kitchen?” I would tell him they were his. “Huh, I don’t remember using that many dishes, I barely cook. That’s ok, I’ll just clean them.” Because he left these piles for so long, he forgot using the oldest dishes and then acted like the bigger person by cleaning what he thought was someone else’s mess. When his girlfriend and father came to stay he would spend time cleaning the house prior to their arrival. This always really irked me because they would think he was a neat person, but we had to endure his mess the rest of the time. Person spent hours tinkering in the garage, apparently building a desk. I feel like during our 6 months in that house he spent 4 of them “building a desk”. I never saw one. Not to mention he already had one in his room, so I have no idea what this was about. He also spent a considerable time cleaning Jack and Kiersten’s room after they moved out and he took it over. It really bothered me that he would spend so long on parts of the house that only he used but did no maintenance on the public areas that affected everyone. He would also consume anyone else’s food and beer, to the point where one of our housemates only bought the minimum amount of groceries because he felt it would all end up going to Person’s stomach anyway. By the end of our stay the kitchen was so filthy that we found mouse droppings on the stove and microwave, and actually encountered a mouse in our wardrobe.

On a personal level, Person was a nice enough guy, but his social inadequacies really started to wear me down by the end. He was extremely loud a lot of the time, and had one of the most obnoxious laughs I’ve ever heard (and that’s saying something coming from me). He would play his video games with noise-cancelling headphones and scream, laugh and swear all throughout the day and night, to the point where we couldn’t hear the TV in our bedroom over him. Sometimes I had to ask Sara to repeat herself because he had drowned her out from the other room. What really irritated me was his ability to be quiet when asked. Sure, its great that we could tell him to tone it down and he would listen, but evidently he didn’t need to be that loud. So why was he? I’m a loud guy in the right context, but living with Person taught me that I’m really not too bad. During interactions he was a chronic interrupter, and by the end of our time together I stopped initiating conversations because it wasn’t worth the stress of being talked over. The majority of the time he would interrupt to divert the discussion to something about himself. Here is an example:

Me: I saw something on the internet today I thought you would appreciate.

Person: Oh yeah?

Me: Yeah, there was a guy who was-

Person: You finished all your exams, right??

Me: Ahh, yeah that’s right.

Person: Congrats, man! How’d you go?

Me: Thanks. Umm not that great but I think I passed.

Person: Really? Even with chemistry?

Me: Yeah that was really tough.

Person: It can’t have been too tough otherwise you would’ve asked me for help. I’m really good at chem, I find it really interesting because…

I’m not exaggerating, this is an actual conversation I had with him, verbatim. As you can see, his diversions weren’t even subtle. On top of this, he was one of the worst listeners I’ve ever met. If I referred to something that I’d told him at an earlier date, 50% of the time he had no recollection of the initial conversation. This was probably because he had interrupted me the first time I told him, or because he was on his phone while I was speaking to him. Mid-conversation he would take out his phone to start reading an article, and despite keeping up vocal cues to indicate that he was still listening, I knew he wasn’t. I’m terrible at multi-tasking, which is why I can’t study and watch TV at the same time. My solution? I don’t study and watch TV at the same time. One time I was driving us to a restaurant with him directing, and we were approaching a t-intersection.

Me: Left or right?

Person: [reading article on phone]

Me: Dude, which way we going?

Person: [no response]

Me: Person! Mate, what are we doing?

Person: [no response] (I wish I was exaggerating this)

Me: Well I guess we’re going left, thanks for the help.

Person: Huh, what’s happening?

He told me that by letting me figure it out myself, I had more chance of remembering the route. Sure that’s fine, but it might be midnight before we eat. Additionally, I made the decision early on to stop watching TV with him, as he would talk incessantly throughout anything we watched and then ask me what was happening because he had missed plot points.

On the days that rent was due, Person would send us a text message asking for his money, usually around the middle of the day. This is really unprofessional, especially considering we were never overdue. During our stay, the house was home to two Airbnb guests, a new housemate, and for a couple of days a friend’s dog. He didn’t tell us about the new people in the house until they were in the house. We had no idea who these people were, whether they were dodgy and might rummage through our rooms, so it would have been nice to have some notice if we needed to hide our valuables or just generally prepare ourselves mentally. His management of the Airbnb listings was deplorable. One of his guests was a German guy who I had to show which tap provided drinking water and where the toilet was. Person wasn’t sure when the German checked out and barely seemed aware that he was there at all. The second guest was a French girl who had to sleep on a mattress with no frame. When she struggled to understand him due to the language barrier, it was like he’d never interacted with a foreigner before. He continued to use complex words and speak at the same speed, so she just nodded and smiled politely. Person seemed to treat Airbnb as temporary-housemate service, and compared to some of the places we’ve stayed at, he was a terrible host. I can’t imagine arriving at an accommodation to find empty beer bottles, a messy kitchen and a host who didn’t seem to have any interest in making sure I was welcome. When he babysat a friend’s dog, he told me about it as it arrived. It turned out to be a great dog but I guess too bad if we hadn’t wanted it there. Speaking of dogs, when we moved in he told us that Jack and Kiersten’s dogs didn’t bark, but this was another lie. They never made much noise at night but it was rarely “tranquil” during the day due to their constant howling. Also, when it was windy the sheets of laserlight on the outdoor patio would smash against their frames and it sounded like the house was coming down. Combined with the dogs and Person’s yelling, it was pretty frantic at times. He would also loudly rearrange furniture endlessly, which was another source of noise. I have no idea what his desired outcome was but that perfect arrangement of furniture seemed to forever elude him.

The biggest issue we had was probably the toaster incident. When Jack and Kiersten moved out, they took Person’s toaster. Admittedly it wasn’t a good toaster, as the switch had trouble latching and it was just generally old and sad, but it did the trick. So when Person discovered it was taken, he wasn’t happy but decided it wasn’t the best toaster; he would just buy a new one. Apparently he had his eyes on some fancy $40 Kirkland toaster from Costco, and since he was always broke, it would take him time to save up for it. We understood and waited for him to deliver. Here is the timeline of how it went down:

  • 20th March: first toaster is stolen by Jack and Kiersten. Our toaster watch begins.
  • 19th April: Person goes to LA to see family, due to return on the 24th. He tells us he will bring back his parents’ spare toaster. We’re a bit narky because its already been a month, and during this time he was able to afford beer but not a toaster. We ask if he can just get a $7 toaster from Walmart, but he insists that he wants a good one. Our toaster watch continues.
  • 25th April: Person is still not back despite the date. Our other housemate finds his old toaster in the garage and we start using that. Our toaster watch ends. However, we’re interested to see if Person does in fact bring back a toaster, so we don’t tell him about the garage toaster. Our toaster watch 2.0 begins.
  • 1st May: Person returns (a week late). As far as we can tell, he has no toaster, and he says nothing about the garage toaster on the kitchen bench. Our toaster watch 2.0 continues.
  • 11th May: Person sends us a message exclaiming that there is a toaster in the kitchen that he has never seen (it only took him 10 days). We explain where it came from and ask whether he brought one back from LA. He did not. Our toaster watch 2.0 ends, disappointingly.

Apparently Person’s parents’ spare toaster was in use, and once he’d discovered that, the whole thing had left his mind. We explained that this sat pretty badly with us. Essentially, because Person didn’t use a toaster, he didn’t see it as a priority, despite it being our main source of breakfast. We were hurt by the level of disregard that had gone into his (lack of) thinking. He got defensive and told us that he had done everything he could to make us happy, suggesting that our “low” rent was so diminutive that it was hurting his family. This was unprofessional, guilt-trippy and essentially irrelevant. The rent had been agreed upon by both parties months prior, and up until this point we had no idea that it was an issue. We explained that had he told us back in March that he was never going to replace the toaster, we would’ve just bought a cheap one from Walmart and worn the $7, but he had agreed to replace it. I expressed amazement that he took so long to notice the toaster on the bench, and he claimed that had in fact seen it upon his return from LA but had chosen to make a joke about only just noticing it (we don’t buy it). We eventually resolved the situation but the incident had changed the house dynamics. By the time we moved out Person barely spoke to us. On our last day we opted to leave without saying goodbye, and this sentiment was returned. We never heard from him again and we later discovered that he had deleted us from Facebook.

At one point during our stay, a friend of Person’s came to visit, and Person referred to us as “some international students”. It was at this point we realised that he did not consider us as friends, but just as tenants. The constant ways that he disregarded our needs and wishes confirmed this. I know that he would have liked us to spend more time with him in the public areas, but I found very little motivation to do so when I had to move aside his dirty pants to sit down to watch him play video games. At times I felt guilty that he spent so much time in the living room on his own, but then I remembered that his miserable position had only been created by his constant overbearing presence in the house and thoughtless behaviour. I wouldn’t say that we regret our time living with him, but we’re glad it’s over.

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