Nightmare roommates and how you avoid them

23 Sep

roommatesYou love them. You hate them (We’ve all had em). Either way, there they are—all the time—in a small, and perhaps getting smaller, space.


Whether they were the victims of blind chance or just imprudent choosing, here are stories from students at the University at Buffalo who had nightmare roommates and lived to tell about the experience.

With the wisdom they’ve gained and advice they have to offer, you’ll be better equipped to avoid catastrophic roommates and live in harmony with the person, or persons you live with now.

“He smelled like feet and [butt],” said Jonathan Joseph, senior legal studies major, of his roommate from sophomore year.

“I never saw him shower,” he said of a person he lived with for months.

Besides his sleeping habits—being up literally all night long looking at morally questionable content on his computer—Rashad, a transfer student, ate fattening, greasy foods all day: chicken wings, french fries, pizza, etc.

Joseph noted his favorite greasy indulgence was chicken wings. Despite Joseph’s pleas to throw food garbage in the hall trash can, Rashad would ignore them and dispose the half eaten chicken wing bones in the room’s trash can, stinking up the triple even more than it already had been by his refusal to wash himself.

During the day, when he was sleeping, Joseph and his other roommate would dump water and spray febreeze on Rashad, but it neither woke him up nor made him smell any less putrid.

Joseph, a particularly cleanly person, admits having had to use extra cologne because Rashad’s stench would cling to him when he left the room.

The smell became so rancid in the room that even the Resident Assistant refused to enter.

Janse Tong’s roommate was slightly less stinky than Joseph’s but no less maddening.

It appeared Janse Tong, a junior communications major at the time, and her prospective roommate Yuenleng Tee were perfect for one another. Both were from Malasia—they shared a common language and culture. Both were friends with the same person, a mutual friend who brought the two together. And Tee seemed friendly and nice.

 But even the most demure looks can be deceiving.

Tee would often cook traditional Malasian dishes in the two person apartment she shared with Tong. If Tong wasn’t home for dinner, and if she wasn’t there to help clean up, Tee would get mad. If the living room wasn’t decorated a certain way, with certain aesthetic touches maintained and preserved, Tee would get mad.

“She wasn’t OCD (obsessive compulsive),” said Tong, “just a control freak.”

The control didn’t end with the cooking, cleaning and decorating of the apartment. Tee also wanted Tong’s social life to mirror her own.

“I had plans for the weekend,” explains Tong of the incident that ignited the simmering tension between the two. “She (Tee) called Friday night to say ‘You have to come with us to this party (Friday night)’ I said, ‘I didn’t know I had to go with you.’”

Because Tong didn’t go with her to the party Friday night, instead following through with her original plans for the evening, Tee commenced the silent treatment toward Tong.

Tong would only learn of her anger from their mutual friend who served not as a go between for the two but more of a communal dumping ground for both their frustrations.

It got so bad that Tee, who had a car, would no longer take Tong to the grocery store. Tong had to take a bus. Tee also began hosting loud parties nights Tong was studying.

Eventually Tong began working more hours at the University food court just so she could stay out of the apartment.

Tong endured Tee for the entire year and was happy when she graduated in the spring.

Her advice?

“I would never live with someone I didn’t know ever again.”

For Danielle Hanna, senior communications major, the nightmare became clear after only one incident.

Hanna and Heather, both sophomores, shared a double room Fall 07 on the SUNY Purchase campus.

Heather was from a small town, and Hanna figured she hadn’t gotten out too much because all she did when she arrived on campus was party.

“She went out literally every night,” said Hanna. “I don’t think she ever went to class.” Although that wasn’t entirely true. Hanna later admitted she did go to one class—tennis.

Though Hanna says the first bad sign was that she was extremely messy, the real turn off came soon after.

A light sleeper, Hanna woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of her roommate and male friend engaging in the kinds of things that should be done in single rooms only.

Only a few feet separated her bed from her roommate’s.

Hanna ignored it and tried to fall asleep again. She admits being too embarrassed at the time to do or say anything to her tactless roommate, and friend.

She thinks there are some lines you just don’t cross with your roommate, and that having sex in the same room is one of them.

“There’s this automatic thing where you know you don’t do that,” she said.

But when it happened a second time—with Heather’s boyfriend who drove from Iowa—Hanna couldn’t just go back to sleep and ignore it.

Something, someone, had to stop the shenanigans.

“I said, ‘Heather this is the second time, and I really don’t appreciate this!’ I don’t like confrontations, but I was pretty mad at her.”

Heather’s boyfriend from Iowa broke up with her soon after, and the roommates stopped talking. Heather was upset at Hanna for “blowing her in.”

Hanna notes that it wasn’t long after the incident that one of her two pet turtles “Gabana” died when she wasn’t in the room, after his rock was mysteriously moved.

Hanna doesn’t know for sure, but she has her own theory about who killed little Gabana—and why.

Hanna concedes the whole messy situation could have been avoided had she been up front with her roommate Heather (who later failed out and moved to Boston) and explained to her how uncomfortable she felt.

She advises roommates to be open and honest about their feelings and to not let them fester.

The breaking point for Joseph, who had the stinky, nocturnal roommate, came when Rashad woke him up in the middle of the night panicky because his computer crashed. He wanted to use Joseph’s to watch his favorite T.V. show on-line.

He also found out Rashad was using coke in the bathroom with his buddies.

The morning after the panicky computer episode, Joseph went to the Resident Hall Director and said that if Rashad wasn’t out of his room, he would go to a hotel and bill UB for the cost.

Two days after Joseph made the complaint, the resident hall staff took him out of the room.

Joseph discovered the reason Rashad transferred to his room in the Ellicott Complex spring semester was because he got removed from his other room for doing drugs. He questions why the University knowingly placed a drug user in his room.

“Take matter into your own hands,” advises Joseph. “Don’t let others handle your own business.”

There are a few golden rules when comes to roommates. If followed, you can avoid a nightmare one.

First, live with someone you know. Second, be up front with your roommate. Don’t let feelings fester. And third, be assertive. Know your rights.

And one more thing—take your turtles with you when you leave town.


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