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4 Unspoken Rules of The Roommate Situation

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Sometimes you might even have to cross-dress to get along with your roommates

Oftentimes, in the midst of broke-assitude, we find ourselves in a living situation that involves more than one person per bathroom and sinkfuls of dishes that “someone else” used but no one will fess up to. Most normal and reasonable human beings will have no problem adjusting to life under these circumstances, especially if it means saving a couple hundred bucks a month in rent and utilities costs. But part of that adjustment also means being aware of the unspoken rules of The Roommate Situation, because there’s just some stuff that doesn’t show up on a lease or roommate agreement. (You have a roommate agreement? You nerd!)

1) The Sink Dilemma: No one ever wants to clean other people’s dishes. At the same time though, after a long day of work, no one wants to even do their own dishes immediately after they just fixed a satisfying meal of hot pockets or whatever. This is understandable, but the problem comes when a second roommate is done with his own hot pockets and he sees a plate in the sink – that’s fair game to leave his own plate in there and thus begins a dirty dish standoff until it’s just a total mess. Potential solution: Don’t live anywhere that doesn’t have a dishwasher. Or just eat out a lot.

2) DVR Fights: First there was the fight for the remote, which we solved by creating TiVo and DVRs and whatnot so we can record 19 shows at once and watch them later. But sometimes, during that magical primetime slot in the middle of playoff season for that sport you like, you still get that “conflicting recordings” message and you’re forced to make a choice: Glee or a basketball game whose outcome you only sort of care about. In this case, if it can be watched via Hulu, Netflix, or some other On Demand service, it gets the boot. Just go dig it up online later, OK?

3) Shower Policy: I’m not talking about time in the shower or using up all the hot water because you get up earlier. I mean, for those emergencies when you’re hungover in the shower and realize suddenly that you have to take a leak. “Aim for the drain” is all I’m going to say about this topic. Then we move on.

$0.99 for a whole "meal"

4) Who ate my really cheap food? This one is especially problematic. Sometimes, in the darkest days waiting for the next paycheck, I’ll just come home to relax and cook myself a sad little meal consisting entirely of a $0.99 Lipton Rice Sides. They’re not terrible (although no one would accuse them of being delicious either), but they’re so goddamned cheap that it’s always good to have a couple varieties on hand for those times when you just don’t feel like grocery shopping and can’t afford much else. On more than one occasion though, I’ve had a roommate pilfer my crappy Chicken and Broccoli Flavored Dried Rice and Seasonings Packet and then accuse me of being irrational when I got mad that it was gone. “Here, I’ll pay you back the dollar it costs,” hypothetical roommate will say sarcastically. But that’s not the point. I’m not even mad about the dollar, I’m mad that you think you can pay me to go buy you crappy 99-cent foodstuffs. If you want to pay me to go grocery shopping for your, I’ll clearly be charging a much higher markup.

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Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew is an East Coast transplant from Virginia hamming it up in San Francisco without any intention of leaving. Having worked every typical job from Bike Shop Employee to Bartender to Ad Agency Hotshot, to Dotcom Layoff he now busts his ass covering the "weird things to do" beat for gracious local audiences at and rallies the Western Addy/Lower Haight/Panhandle neighborhoods into action at His work was published in a real, paper magazine one time. One day he might even figure out how to make money from it.


  1. Christy Jovanelly - Cheapskate Commentator
    April 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    the food thing is very true. reason #1 i’m moving into a studio alone.

  2. Rebecca Pederson - Cheap Date
    April 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Food thing is definitely the #1 worst problem. Freshmen year, I lived with this girl who was bulimic and always ate my stuff. But then she would put back the empty container of whatever it was that she ate, which made it more aggravating because it would be days before I realized that my jar of peanut butter in the fridge was really gone. This foolery made the loss so much more difficult to bear.