My Nightmare on Glenrock Avenue: A Cautionary Tale

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Let me put this in simple terms. I lived a nightmare inside my housing arrangement junior year at UCLA. The misery began late in the summer after failing to secure an apartment in due time. Unaware of the housing process and effort it required, I nonchalantly set the task aside. With the school year beginning in September, I could no longer avoid the inevitable. Before doing so though, I needed a roommate.

Delaying the search for housing was my first mistake. Quickly settling on a roommate was my second.

Ted and I became roommates after finding ourselves in similar positions, without a place to live. Our relationship began inside the John Wooden Center at UCLA where we developed chemistry playing basketball together. One afternoon he reached out asking whether or not I had found a roommate yet. In the blink of an eye finding a roommate became a thing of the past, but I would regret my decision for the rest of the year.

Eagerly and naively, we walked up and down the hills of Westwood in search for our new home. After checking out a few places we stumbled upon a huge “Open House” sign on Glenrock Avenue. The apartment held few openings, and after a quick tour Ted became adamant that we sign. As quickly as I had found a roommate I found an apartment.

Our small room, located in the corner of the living room of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, served better as a single than a double. The monthly rent of $925 for a six by six square foot apartment didn’t set off any alarms thanks to the apartment manager, Ron. He did an outstanding job of making me believe the fully furnished apartment with AC and a breathtaking balcony view deserved the high rent. Furthermore, I committed the rash decision to sign without urging my parents to take a look and provide me with input. After failing to contemplate my decision I found myself sharing an apartment with seven people total, five of whom I didn’t know. Why didn’t someone stop me?

507 Glenrock Ave. Apt #304 served as the new home for a musician, grad student, community college student, aspiring actor and fifth year; people in different stages of their lives, seeking to fulfill various goals, none of which paralleled mine. Within the next few months, issues arose including refrigerator space, overnight guests, volume of music, drugs, cigarettes, trash, unkempt bathrooms and more. Above all else though, Ted inviting his hometown friend Greg to spend the “weekend,” made living on Glenrock Avenue one of the worst decisions of my life.

When I first met Greg I didn’t react much. He behaved respectfully toward everyone and according to Ted, Greg would only spend the weekend with us. After seven days, he remained. Three weeks flew by and Greg continued couch surfing. I knew things got out of hand as he unpacked his belongings and hung clothes in the living room closest. The weekend guest unofficially became our eighth roommate. I didn’t care much because Greg came off grateful for the opportunity afforded to him.

In reality it bothered me. I’d sit there and listen to him complain about his struggle back in Milwaukee, meanwhile I paid close to a $1000 a month to live there and he stayed rent free. His presence created stress within my life, among other issues, but as my roommate’s friend I felt obligated to let him be. My other six roommates appeared unfazed by Greg’s continued presence. I didn’t want it to fall to me to ask him to leave. Months and months went by, he came and went, more often coming back than leaving. Never once did anyone question why.

Greg appeared destined to stay throughout our lease agreement before one day everything took a turn for the worse. Having made our living room his, Greg felt comfortable leaving his belongings out and about. In reality though, without storage space he had no choice but to. No one ever touched his stuff until one day, someone stole $300 dollars from his luggage. Soon after, all hell broke loose. The once passive and thankful Greg became a different individual, threatening all of us until his money surfaced.

As days went by his rage increased. He couldn’t fathom someone stealing money from him, but without evidence, who could he blame? Our housemate Taylor, the community college student, had a habit of taking from others; laundry soap, bottled water and food often times went missing thanks to Taylor. With the reputation of a petty thief, Greg became adamant Taylor took his money and unleashed a flurry of punches at him. The ordeal made everyone but Ted and Greg uncomfortable. Greg deemed his assault justifiable, and Ted vehemently defended his friend. To make matters worse, Greg had no evidence Taylor took his money and based his actions solely on presumption.

By the time spring quarter at UCLA drew closer and closer to an end, and with summer in sight I sought to escape Glenrock Avenue. I could no longer bear to live this nightmare. I offered my $925 a month apartment for $700 and quickly found a taker. The relationship between Ted and I deteriorated to the point that I didn’t bother to inform him I had actively searched for a sublet. During my last day I went inside the room as he napped, opened the door and introduced him to his new roommate. The predicament I underwent became the new guy’s problem to deal with not mine. What happened to Greg, his money and the other six roommates? I couldn’t care less. As my ride waited for me outside I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. The nightmare on Glenrock Avenue finally came to an end.

Obed is a senior at UCLA studying English and Digital Humanities. He enjoys playing basketball and covering a wide range of sports from European soccer to football.

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