Annie’s Mailbox for April 4, 2011: Roommate refuses to help clean apartment
April 4, 2011
Dear Annie: I am a 22-year-old college student living on a fixed income in a small apartment with a roommate. “Randy” is one of my best friends, and we’ve known each other for 10 years. We’re a good match. I suffer from Asperger’s, and Randy has a minor case of OCD. We are two average, slightly sloppy 20-somethings. But I have a problem with Randy.
We moved in together a year ago and have only twice set aside time to clean the place. The first time, I was the only one doing anything. Randy spent those three days barking orders at me and playing on his computer. A few weeks ago, he asked if “we” could clean. He helped in the kitchen, although I did all the hard stuff while he mostly supervised. The next day, we started on the bathroom, but Randy got sidetracked playing on his computer, and I ended up cleaning it myself.
Once in a blue moon, Randy will vacuum the living room, but he gives up about a third of the way through. He refuses to wash the dishes with anything except cheap paper towels that come apart, so there’s always food still caked on them, and I have to rewash them. Randy yells at me for leaving things out, even though he does the same thing. He’s been known to throw my stuff away without asking, and I’ve probably lost $100 that way. If I ever ask him about these things, he gets angry or promises to try harder, but it never happens.
Randy is now out of town, and he left me all the dirty dishes and a ton of garbage. I admit I’m disorganized and I procrastinate, but Randy makes no effort to contribute. What can I do?
— Frustrated in New York
Dear New York: These are common issues between roommates, and everyone resolves them differently. You could specify which parts of the apartment you will clean and then do so, telling Randy the rest is his. You could ask Randy to contribute money in lieu of working so you can invest in cleaning supplies or hire help. You could pool your resources to hire an occasional cleaning person. Whatever you decide, resentment will build if you don’t deal with it and work out a tolerable arrangement.
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