Kitchen Tyranny

by admin on September 9, 2009

My friend “George” was living in a house with three roommates.  Eventually, all three moved out, and the landlord moved new ones in over the summer.  One of these new roommates, “Betty,” loves to bake and does so every night.  Well, you might think, who wouldn’t love to have a roommate who’s making delicious treats all the time?  Well, there are two big problems there:

1) Betty’s not just making a pan of brownies; she will literally make something the size of a wedding cake and leave it to sit on the counter for a week.  Who wants to eat that?

2) Betty has not ever washed a single dish or pan.  EVER.  Once the sink was full, she began placing things onto the counters and every other available surface … and kept piling things on.  It was not unusual for George to move some dishes off the stove (yes, the stove) and find a baking sheet with a bunch of cookies still on it, forgotten by Betty.  George had to eat out most nights (on a grad student’s salary) because he couldn’t use his own kitchen or even get a clean dish.

The final straw for George was a couple of weeks ago, when he walked into the kitchen and was literally made sick by the stench of rotting food.  He had signed a lease on a new place and moved within a week.  And that poor kitchen is still under assault by Betty.  0908-09

The solution to this dilemma, once appeals to reason have been exhausted, was to have collected all the dirty dishes and deposited them on Betty’s bed.  Or in front of her bedroom door if access to her room was restricted.   George then buys his own dishes, a pot or two and keeps them in his room for his own use.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

NKKingston September 9, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Having lived, and still living, in shared accomodation, it’s always worth having your own dishes. If there’s nothing clean, and it’s all one person’s fault, sometimes you just have to stand over them – most people will apologise when faced with the plain fact they’ve prevented you cooking for yourself. I’ve had more luck with that (providing I’ve had time to wait for them to run out of excuses first) than piling the dishes somewhere obvious; half our pans spent over a month outside when a housemate wouldn’t wash them. I think they were still there when we moved out.

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Wondering September 10, 2009 at 7:32 am

Apart from that: Betty is most certainly not quite well and needs some help. What kind of a roommate would just look and do nothing?

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Alexa April 28, 2010 at 9:56 am

Jeannie, I think your answer to this is wrong. It is passive-aggressive, which is just a very dishonest way of being aggressive. Betty isn’t just a slob if she’s making this much stuff and then leaving it to rot. She has some kind of disorder, perhaps something like anxiety or OCD. George should have talked to her and tried to convince her to see a professional. If she refused, it would have been time to contact her family to intervene. At any time during this process, George should have starting making plans to move.

What you wanted to do would just be harassing someone who appears to be mentally ill. I’m sure we can both agree that wouldn’t be very tactful.

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TC July 19, 2010 at 2:50 am

I have roommates like Betty, but not as bad. I don’t think it’s a disorder. I think they just lack follow through.

I don’t know what their home lives are like, I can only assume their mothers clean up after them. They know to clean up after themselves, as I had come home one night to see a note on the fridge about washing dishes and wiping down the sink when I was done… for one plate, one glass, and a knife and fork. I had to rearrange dirty dishes to find my offending dishes. And let’s not talk about how they were so irritated by my one dirty plate-knife-fork that they kept moving my items out of the sink and onto some clean dishes I had… although after inquiring into who did these deeds made this particular action stop.

Before you are mistaken, these are the same roommates, who, when I left for the 4th of July weekend
(and carried out the garbage the morning I was leaving) let the garbage pile up to the point it could fill two garbage bins for the 4 days I wasn’t home. I took pictures, put the pictures on a letter and sent copies to each of them, and the landlord.

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Jude November 21, 2010 at 8:18 pm

No it’s not mental illness — it’s plain laziness. I’m living in a boarding house situation with two college age women. I’m in my late 50′s. We live on the second floor, access is through a poorly build wooden out door stairway. In the 6 months that they have been living here, I have taken the trash down those stairs 90 percent of the times, while the other 10 percent one of the young woman has taken it out when I’ve asked her to. That young lady is also the one who will at least wash her own dishes if there is enough room in the sink to actually wash them, or she sometimes asked me to wash them if she is late for class or something. That’s fine with me.
On the other hand, the other on has never lifted at finger to clean anything, she won’t even bother to wash a knife she’s used to butter her toast, and will completely ignore her dishes until her parents come to visit, when she will knock on my door to inform me that I need to clean the kitchen because her parents will be here in 15 minutes.

Since the nice one is getting married in 2 weeks, and the landlady is showing her room for possible new tenants, I was asked if I would clean up the kitchen and wash the dishes, and since at that point I did have some dishes that needed washing from dinner that evening, I washed everyone’s dishes, and put my own away. Left other people’s dishes, clean, on the counter. The next morning I woke to 10 dirty glasses, 3 bowls and a ton of silverware, and a nasty note about why didn’t I put her dishes away.
I’m moving to another room, downstairs, and hoping the 2 new people who move in can put up with lazy messy girl.

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Enna April 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

It could be laziness or there could be some underlying issue. Mental illness covers a broad specturm form the minor to the extreme. It’s worthwhile talking to such a housemate face to face. A constructive, polite chat is what is needed rather then letting it get to that stage.

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