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Roommate Karma

When I was younger I lived in a massive house with four to five other people. Having lived in that house for about five years, I accumulated a lot of stories. This one is about my old (distant) friend and former roommate Hailey.

Hailey and I had been friends throughout high school and, even though we went to college in different cities, we remained friends. I’d been living in my house for about a year when she mentioned that she was moving to my city. A roommate had just left so we had room for her and things seemed like they would work well.

Hailey had a job that required travel and a few months after she moved in she was sent on a contract that would run about four months. She left mid month.  The day after I dropped her off at the airport I got a call from our landlord. She hadn’t paid that month’s rent yet and she hadn’t told him that she would be out of the country for a few months. (We all rented our rooms separately so rent was collected individually.) Not cool. I emailed her right away and didn’t get a reply. I emailed her repeatedly and finally told her that the landlord was going to contact her parents to have her things removed if he didn’t hear from her. She finally sent me a money order that would pay for two month’s rent (she was now three months behind). When she returned to town a few weeks later she was able to pay. She settled everything and moved back to her parent’s home.

A couple of years passed. And then she decided to move back to the city. She knew better than to ask to move in to my house again but she did ask if she could stay over for a week while she found her own place and a new job.  One week became two. Two weeks became a month. I finally put my foot down after six weeks and explained that it was time for her to go.  In the time that she’d stayed with me she had never once offered to help with rent (I wasn’t expecting it but would have appreciated it), she didn’t help with chores, and she stayed in my room with me. She had started dating someone and, since she didn’t have a key, she would wake me up at all hours to be let in.

Fast forward by about six years.  I was living with my husband and Hailey lived nearby. Her friend Ann had an emergency and needed a new place to stay for just a couple of weeks until she found a new place. She moved in with Hailey and did the exact same thing to Hailey that Hailey had done to me. Hailey constantly complained about Ann’s overstaying her welcome, inability to chip in with rent, and late nights out.  As catty as it may be, it was nice to see Hailey get a taste of her own medicine. 0226-16


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  • mark March 2, 2016, 8:38 am

    No good deed ever goes unpunished. I know this is an exaggeration, but I tend to tightly control my charity. I like to be able to say when it starts and more importantly when it ends.

  • Lerah99 March 2, 2016, 10:15 am

    When I was 18, I was a terrible roommate.

    It was my first time away from home and I moved into the house of a much older friend in her 40’s.

    I borrowed her clothes, ate her food, didn’t help out with the chores, my room was a complete disaster, I left stuff strewn all over the living room, sometimes I’d be weeks late paying my part of the rent, I would take long showers using up all the hot water in the morning, and I ran my window a/c on high ALL the time causing a substantial increase in the electric bill

    Looking back on it now I’m horrified at how awful I was.

    At the time, it didn’t seem like that big a thing.
    I had every intention of returning her clothes, eventually.
    And who cares who bought what food? We’re friends.
    And I was totally planning to get around to those dirty dishes, my dirty laundry, scrubbing the tub, taking out the garbage, etc… She just did it before I got around to it.
    And I was always planning to pay the rent. Sometimes I just spent more than I meant to and had to wait for the next pay check.

    It’s amazing what some years and experience will do to change your perspective.

    The next place I lived was an apartment with a friend who had never lived away from home before.
    And I was really frustrated when she’d borrow my clothes, eat my food, be late with her part of the rent, etc…

    Being a few years older and seeing how frustrating it was to live with someone like me, taught me how to be a good roommate.

    I wonder if it’s too late to send my first roommate a gift basket with an apology card? It’s only be 17 years since I lived with her. Maybe she’d appreciate it.

    • Kayesse March 2, 2016, 5:25 pm

      It’s never too late to do something nice.

    • Ernie March 2, 2016, 7:12 pm

      She probably would, she might think it was funny now that so much time has passed.

      I was an awful roomate my first year of college. Messy, selfish, etc…

      I’ve always thought that they should have a mandatory class, the last year of high school to teach seniors about how life will be as a young adult. How credit card interest and student loan debt works, how to file your taxes, how to identify a scam… After reading this story today, I would add a unit on what living away from home for the first time means, and how to be a good roomate.

  • NostalgicGal March 2, 2016, 11:41 am

    I had hit a corner and I drove with what I had in the back of a (small station wagon like) car, just enough money to get there, food stamps (what I had left for that month) and enough cash to get a pair of nylons. A food pantry I had gone to had also had clothing and I got three outfits to interview in (nice looking dresses). In that city I had enough friends to possibly crash couches for two weeks and find a job. First friend was a queen of a lady, and the next day I landed a temp job where she worked. A weekend worth of days turned into seven weeks and I got hired, but. I paid my half of food, moved into an adjacent apartment when it opened up, and paid her back for half the rent for those seven weeks. Later years, a friend of mine hit the same issue, so I offered she could stay to do the same, and expected 1-3 months. Which turned into 2.5 years, involving her parents, and a formal eviction notice. It almost cost me my marriage (she left my DH alone but the stress was bad). I tried to ‘pay it forward’ and it bit me bad. As mark said, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished….

  • Dee March 2, 2016, 12:23 pm

    OP, Hailey proved to be a lousy roommate who caused you a lot of grief. She didn’t care how her actions affected you. This is NOT a friend. Given all that, you decided she would make a decent short-term guest. You had evidence to the contrary and you ignored it. I don’t even understand why you still communicate with Hailey as if you are friends. But I do hope you told Hailey, clearly and succinctly, how much her actions hurt you, at the time and when she calls you up complaining about the same behaviour from someone else. You do no one a favour by pretending things are okay when they’re not.

  • Devin March 2, 2016, 1:22 pm

    I’m currently getting ready to do a quick career change/relocation and will be staying with my brother for the first month. Stories like this are the reason that I made him have a long chat with me about the ‘terms’ of me living there. His thought is “Stay as long as you want, pay us or not, either way.” But I know that can quickly lead to resentment, even though initially he genuinely doesn’t care.

    OP I’m glad you finally found your polite spine and told her it was time to shove off. It sounds like you let her live on her own term, and should have immediately set up rules of the house for her staying with you. Its up to you to tell her that she will contribute X dollars per week towards bills, that you expect the house to be kept-up to your liking, and that its lights out at a set time during work nights; especially since you weren’t ‘hosting’ her as a guest.

  • JD March 2, 2016, 1:23 pm

    Well, it is kind of nice to see someone get a nice dose of her own medicine! OP, I’m glad to see you told Hailey she had to go when she was staying “for a week.” So many submitters have people who’ve stayed way, way too long and yet they don’t tell them to go. How hard was it, when Hailey complained to you about Ann, to keep from saying, “You mean, the way you did the same thing to me?”

  • Becca March 2, 2016, 3:10 pm

    Be careful with these house guests that turn into squatting nightmares!

    My auntie just had this horrible incident happen that makes me scared to ever let anyone into my home for a visit that isn’t someone I’d move right in and take care of myself.

    Auntie’s story is like this, she’s in her 70s, her children are all 40 something-ish. They are problematic, cannot take care of themselves well and still call mommy whenever something goes wrong. Cousin calls Auntie and says “I need a place to stay for awhile, just to get back on my feet!”

    Auntie tells her that “Okay, you can stay any time, that’s not a problem! I cannot take your boyfriend in though, there’s not much room and I don’t really get along with him well, he’s rude to me.”

    So cousin shows up anyways and drops this loser on her doorstep, knowing that my Auntie was far too kind to actually turn him away if he was dropped on her like that. So Auntie accepts it’s just a little bit of time and he’ll be gone, she works enough that they won’t be there together all the time at least, right?

    Oh how it turned into a nightmare quickly. This guy was quiet for the first week, they just coexisted at that rate. Then he started getting mouthy with her. Turns out he’s detoxing, AWESOME, right? Argh. So after a couple weeks Auntie tells Dude that he needs to go. He refuses. He just squats in her one bedroom apartment, refuses to get himself out of there. He won’t help out, he doesn’t pay anything, he’s just the ultimate freeloader.

    So Auntie tries to get him kicked out. This guy isn’t on the lease. He’s not a roommate by any means, he shouldn’t have any right to be there, right?

    No. In that state if you’re there 10 days, you have rights. You cannot be kicked out, since you’re considered a tenant. This is a civil dispute the cops say to her.

    The only thing that changed it was when he finally slipped up and said “I wish I could beat (deleted) out of you but I don’t want to go to jail.” So she filed a report, only then did the police come and “evict” him from her couch. She wanted to do it the legal way, she didn’t want any of her goon grandchildren and brothers go up there to do any intimidation -.- She’s a better, much classier, wonderful person than I am.

    It scared me too because I had that friend like yours. She’d visit for a week at a time, in my bed, it was draining. My boyfriend was confused and excited when I finally kicked that one out of my life -.-

    • Ernie March 2, 2016, 7:27 pm

      How awful for your aunt.

      I think we need to re-visit those strange tenancy laws that so many places seem to have. It seems to me like the leaseholder/mortgage payer should get to be the ultimate authority in every case, and if they call and say someone is squatting, the sheriff should be able to get them out right then and there. I don’t really see the upside to the way that so many places do it, where freeloaders seem to have all these rights.

      • Becca March 3, 2016, 12:52 am

        They’ve stripped many rights as a landlord in the name of “protecting” against slumlords, it’s out of hand to say the least.

        I’m exhausted thinking of the extensive landlord/tenant laws out there, they all differ regiom to region too. You can never catch up.

        • EchoGirl March 4, 2016, 10:14 pm

          OTOH, my state just keeps stripping rights from tenants. They’ve repeatedly lessened the burden of proof for landlords to withhold security deposits, and a recent law says that landlords can evict a tenant for any “criminal activity” suspected (not even proven) on the property. It’s a mess.

      • NostalgicGal March 3, 2016, 3:32 am

        Worse is some places, if a home is vacant and someone moves into it (squatter) it may take a good year of legal maneuvering to get them out, and in the meantime they may have trashed the place. (case that hit the news, a mansion that was on the market and unoccupied, someone broke in and moved in, and the owner of the place had an expensive battle to get them out of there… a law meant to protect low income and elderly from being evicted by a landlord’s whim went sideways and the squatter knew how to work the system.)

  • Just4Kicks March 3, 2016, 7:09 pm

    My late MIL broke her ankle after tripping over one of her dogs, and since my FIL worked part time, but strange hours, my husband announced she could stay with us for “a few days”.
    Uh huh. Yeah.
    My FIL brought her over that night, bag and baggage, and then left.
    I said, “Oh…I was making dinner, he is certainly welcome to stay! Why did he go?!?”
    My MIL’ s reply: “Oh, he’s going back to pack up all THREE dogs and their food and leashes….he’ll be right back.”
    I won’t go into further detail other than to say things were VERY frosty for the next five weeks until she and I had a HUGE screaming match one morning, and she called one of her other kids to come get her and her Damn dogs.
    ….my husband was in the doghouse also, since I wasn’t not asked if any of this could take place…..

    • NostalgicGal March 9, 2016, 2:36 pm

      I think you’ve mentioned she was Saint Mommy Dearest to him…
      I would’ve packed that night and moved out until she was gone, honest.
      Betting your FIL appreciated emptying the house.
      Shaking head. You have my belated condolences and sympathy.

      • Just4Kicks June 24, 2016, 7:28 am

        A little late on my part, but thanks so much! 🙂

        After that, and many, MANY stunts like it from my late MIL, I started calling my husband Norman Bates.
        “What the hell does THAT mean? Norman Bates?”
        Figure it out, sunshine….