Illustrations by Alex Jenkins
Living alone is a luxury fewer and fewer of us will get to experience in our 20s and 30s. As the cost of living climbs and wages stay stagnant, the number of millennials with roommates is increasing, according to data published last year by Pew Research Center. More young people are moving back in with their parents, turning to barracks-style living arrangements, or pretending that a wooden box inside someone else's apartment constitutes an adequate living situation.
For the rest of us, there are roommates. Whether you choose to live with a childhood best friend or a random person from Craigslist, you're always rolling the dice on whether or not they'll make your life a living hell for the duration of the lease.We asked people to tell us about their worst roommates. These shared-space horror stories went well beyond the freshman year rite of passage of having to fake-sleep through someone else masturbating in your room. And if you think you've been the bad roommate in a house or apartment, we can say with near certainty that someone has peed in your shampoo as a petty act of revenge.
I used to live in an apartment in Boston with this other dude. One day, I headed for my bedroom after coming home, and as I reached for the knob, the door flew open by itself. Standing before me was my roommate, wearing only a skimpy pair of shorts and glistening with sweat.He immediately started word vomiting about how his laptop was broken, and he needed to check his email. "All right," I said, as he retreated to his room.Later that night, when I realized that Safari was open (which I would never use, because I'm not a noob) I checked my browser history. Right there in the history were a ton of videos from CreamPie.com or something like that. Being the Veronica Mars that I am, I found an app that turns your webcam into a security camera. The app detected motion and would start to snap photos from the webcam when someone was in front of the computer.
JERKED OFF IN MY BED, REPEATEDLY
The next night, I ended up crashing with a friend and didn't return home until late the next day. When I got home, I checked the folder on my computer where photos would appear if motion was detected and… BAM. There was a folder full of pictures of this dude jacking off. With my computer. On my bed.I didn't know what to do with this information right away, so I didn't say anything until a month later, when he picked a fight with me over something stupid. The fight snowballed into this crazy argument and finally, I just said, "AT LEAST I DIDN'T JERK OFF WITH YOUR COMPUTER ON YOUR BED!"He kind of froze and told me I was crazy for "making up" something like that, so I told him, "Uh, dude, I have pictures of you doing that." I've never seen someone go silent faster. — Stephen, 29Related: We Asked Our Former Roommates What It's Like to Live with Us
I was living in New York in a four-bedroom apartment. It was kind of a party house, and my one roommate was this little pot-smoking girl. One night, she left a lit candle on a chair in her room and went out, and a few hours later, I got a call from our neighbor saying there were tons of fire trucks outside our apartment. I went home, and the apartment was on fire.Her room ended up being the only one that got burned, but the entire apartment—including all of my stuff—was destroyed by water from the fire department putting out the fire. My landlord wouldn't pick up the phone when we tried to call him about it, because he was Hassidic, and it was a Saturday.
SET OUR APARTMENT ON FIRE
Also, she never admitted to it. The fireman had to tell me what happened. — Carol, 30
I studied abroad in Roatan, Honduras, and one of the boys in our group would constantly sexually harass me. Once he even pushed me into a pool while I was wearing a white dress. Nothing was left to the imagination, and I was totally humiliated. He was a D1 baseball player who had attacked other students verbally and threatened to hit me when I confronted him, so I asked my professors to hold him accountable for his actions. They basically called me a tattletale. It was infuriating.My roommates, one of whom had a crush on this asshole, insisted I was asking for his harassment, even though I had barely spoken to the guy. All of them claimed he was acting out because I was ignoring him. They made their case about my so-called role in the situation at dinner in front of our whole class, within earshot of our professor. I excused myself from dinner and went straight back to our bungalow and peed in their shampoo for exacerbating a humiliating experience and basically perpetuating rape culture instead of standing behind a fellow chick. —Christy, 28
SIDED WITH MY SEXUAL HARASSER
I lived with a random roommate my freshman year of college. We weren't great friends, but she was nice, and the first few months of our living situation were pretty civil.One Thursday evening, we pregamed a bit in the dorm together and then went out to different parties. When I came back to our room that evening, our door was unlocked, all the lights were on, the TV was blaring, and my roommate was facedown on her bed, wearing just a T-shirt, with black vomit strewn across her pillow. She was naked from the waist down, and what could only be human feces had trickled down the backs of her legs and onto the bottoms of her feet. There was even more shit all over the carpet and in the recycling bin. (At least she tried to clean it up?) I slowly shut the door thinking, I am not prepared to deal with this.
SHIT ALL OVER OUR ROOM
I grabbed the RA on our floor, who called an ambulance. My roommate woke up and spent the night in the hospital. I, on the other hand, spent the rest of the night trying to clean the room with two very brave friends. Around four in the morning, while we were still gagging on the smell of human waste, a man in a hazmat suit showed up to my room with industrial strength cleaning products and told me to give him my keys for the night. I slept on a friend's floor down the hall, woke up to go to my midterm the next day, and when I came back to my room, it was as good as new. By way of apology, my roommate left me a bag of M&Ms on my bed with a note that said, "Thanks for being a great roommate!" Chocolate did not seem appetizing after what had happened. — Lauren, 24
My freshman year roommate would wake up every day—even Sundays—at 5 AM to blare Van Halen and Bon Jovi while he studied for exams over a month away. —Paul, 29
BLASTED BON JOVI EVERY MORNING
During college, I moved into a house with my five best friends. We quickly started behaving like the unsupervised 19-year-olds that we were—punching holes in the walls on a nightly basis, drawing a mural of LeBron James riding an elephant in black sharpie on the wall of our living room, and so on.One time, I returned to our apartment around 9 AM on a weekday to grab a textbook from my room, and opened my door to find my room completely disheveled, a half-full pizza box upside-down on my rug, and my roommate and his girlfriend ass-naked in my bed. His own bedroom was just down the hall. I started locking my room after that. — Chris, 24
STOLE MY CLOTHES, HAD SEX IN MY BED
I had a roommate who kept using my frying pan to cook ketamine. There was only one pan in the house, and every time I wanted to use it, it would either be in his bedroom or in the kitchen full of drugs. Eventually, my other roommate bought a pan that the ketamine-cooker wasn't allowed to use, and the original pan became his dedicated ketamine pan. — Mario, 27Some names have been changed to prevent roommate retribution.Follow Justin Caffier on Twitter.