I remember having extreme anxiety about my roommates and living situation during my first year of college. It got to a certain point where I kept emailing a leasing agent to make edits on my roommate matching form. Yes, a little excessive, but my worries needed to ease.
I only had one prayer—not to have a roommate horror story. It never got answered.
I didn’t have problems with Janice* right off the bat. Granted, she made unnecessary comments about my appearance and could drain a person if she talked for too long—but overall she and I got along. As a matter of fact, I did actually like her at some point. The first few months living with her and my other roommates, Avery and Rachelle, went smoothly without any issues. Never did I expect the roommate horror story that followed. Then came January.
Janice brought up having a friend stay over to us at the beginning of the month. Of course, we didn’t have any objections. All of us have had people stay over from boyfriends to family to friends—not a big deal. But none of us thought it would turn into a long term thing. Personally, I thought her friend would just stay the weekend—like a normal visit.
Fast forward a week or two, I’m in the kitchen lathering up some greasy dishes with soap.
Hearing the door open from Janice’s room, I look up to say hello. Except I don’t find Janice. Instead, I saw a total stranger walk out of her room, into the the hallway, through the common area and out the door. My eyes followed her every move. She locked the door behind her, which only meant one thing: she had a key to the apartment.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, Avery, Rachelle and I came to see this mysterious stranger around the apartment more and more, whether cooking in the kitchen or simply lounging in the living room. None of us knew her, let alone her name. But nothing’s weird about having a stranger living in your own home, right?
This went on for a month and eventually me and the other roommates had to have a conversation about this “guest.” We decided to simply ask Janice about the situation and for a time frame. Instantly, Janice got extremely defensive, telling us that the girl—now known as Bertha—never uses the electricity and never uses anyone’s items. I guess cooking and having the light and fan on doesn’t count as electricity these days. Keep in mind that part of the question asked for a guesstimation on Bertha’s stay. That question went unanswered, leaving the time frame up for grabs.
In March came spring break, and all of my roommates left for different places while I stayed in good ol’ Gainesville.
One night, I came back from work and froze when I turned on the light. One of the dining room chairs rested untucked from the table. Seems benign, right? Wrong. I am such a methodical person that I sit in the same chair every time I eat and always push my chair in. However, I never used that chair and none of my roommates were home for the break. Immediately, my heart started racing as my mind conjured up the worst imaginings of killers, rapists and kidnappers. Spotting a set of keys on the counter, I peered down the hallway to find the light in Janice’s room on. Janice? No, Bertha.
Though my heart calmed knowing that nobody broke into our apartment, my anger soared at the scare that came. The next day, I found our mail on the counter. Beyond frustrated with the total lack of privacy I had with this unwelcome stranger, I flipped through the mail for a letter I expected. No letter. But there was an envelope sticking out of the top of the trash. Grabbing it, my eyes bulged at the sheer audacity of it all. Above the address of the apartment read: Bertha Joseph. Not only did she have keys in her possession, but she also received her mail here.
Home girl basically moved in.
After a few tense text messages between Janice and I, we agreed to discuss the issue once spring break finished, since she didn’t want me ruining her birthday week. When the time came, the other girls and I told Janice that none of us felt comfortable with her unwelcome guest. Despite everything we said, Janice still could not see the problem and refused to relent even after we straight up told her that we would get management involved if necessary. The next day, Bertha took it upon herself to loudly inform another one of Janice’s guests on how childish and unreasonable we three roommates were acting.
Fueled by the blatant rudeness from a person that should not even have access to the apartment, we all sat down to speak with Janice after her guests left. We soon learned that Janice gave Bertha the okay to live at the apartment without even asking us. After over an hour of heated discussion, we agreed to Bertha no longer having keys and only sleeping over three nights a week. Not much of a shock came when Janice and Bertha did the exact opposite.
And so the roommate horror story continued.
Some time after the talk, I walked into the apartment after work at 1 a.m. On a massage chair lied a naked man with a towel thrown across his body. Air thick with incense, Bertha greeted me as she carried on giving some random man a massage in the living room. Not going to lie, I lost all of my chill. Not only was Janice not home, but Bertha brought a client into the apartment to practice her masseuse skills at 1 a.m. Angered, I told them to wrap it up. Bertha, of course, told me to “relax, baby girl” and not disrespect her client, all while reassuring him to take his time.
When he did finish and leave, Avery and I told Bertha that she crossed the boundary with this. Next thing you know, the conversation turned into an argument of her right to come to the apartment, without once a genuine apology from her. Because why apologize when her and Janice have done nothing wrong? Bertha then left the apartment to go pick up Janice as I hopped into the shower. From over the roaring water, I heard Janice announce her arrival to the apartment by yelling at the top of her lungs about our disrespect towards her and her guest. Never would I have imagined that I would find myself getting cursed out at 2 a.m. Ah, what a life.
Not going anywhere with Janice, Avery and I decided to take the matter up to management.
Luckily for us, however, management told us that their hands were tied since Janice renewed her lease while none of us did. Instead they sat her down for a talk—no more mail, no more keys, no more staying over without her there, no more massages or other secondary guests. By the looks of it, Janice and Bertha show little intention of doing this: mail still comes, Bertha still comes, BS still comes. Let’s just hope that I can outlast this roommate horror story for the next three months until move out day.
*For privacy purposes, fake names were used throughout the narrative