This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands.
One day, I got home to find some of my flatmates naked and chained to our garden fence. They thought it would be a good idea to go streaking in our very child-friendly neighbourhood, and ended up getting arrested.
If you went to university, you likely have a similar story – or at least had to live in a gross student house you shared with way too many strangers. At that stage in your life, everyone's broke and nobody understands hygiene or basic human decency, meaning you often end up in some pretty undesirable situations.
I rounded up some truly horrific roommate stories, to remind you that things could always be worse.
I lived on the 13th floor of a huge student housing building, next to a man we called Gabber. He was in his late thirties, always drunk and stoned, and a bit weird. One night, after going out, I got home with a friend. We'd taken ecstasy and were pretty strung out. We were in my room, when suddenly I saw smoke coming from under my door. I went outside to check what was going on and walked into a cloud of smoke so thick I couldn't see anything. Meanwhile, the fire alarm went off and everyone came out to the hallway. The fire department was automatically alerted and arrived pretty quickly.
It wasn't hard to figure out where the fire started. Smoke was billowing out from underneath Gabber’s door and the door was still closed, so we were like: fuck, he's dead. But when we knocked on the door, he opened it. He said there was no fire, even though we could see the flames behind him. He closed the door quickly and everyone panicked. We started pounding on his door like crazy. When he finally opened it again, one of my roommates punched him so we could enter. But once we were inside, the fire was already out.
The fire department came and left, and I called my downstairs neighbour to tell him this crazy story. He said: "Oh, I thought I saw a burning mattress falling down outside my window." In the end, we found out Gabber had fallen asleep with a lit cigarette in his mouth and his mattress had caught on fire. He decided to throw it out of the window, from the 13th floor, because he didn't want to set off the alarm. This was the third time there had been a fire in his room. Everyone was really mad at him, but we didn't kick him out. After that, life went on as usual. I think he still lives there.
I share a big apartment with four roommates. A few months ago, one of them found a crayfish on the sidewalk. We'll never know if it had escaped at the fish market or crawled out of a canal by itself, but my roomie decided to "save" the animal. When I got home, I was told we had a new roommate. The crayfish, now named Larry, is about 15 centimetres long and has two big claws. He sits in a plastic tub in our living room.
The problem is, he escapes all the time and ends up wandering around the house. My other roommate ran into him in the middle of the night once and almost stepped on him. She was freaked out and we all had a fight about whether or not Larry should stay. I felt bad for the crayfish; keeping him wasn't good for his own sake, and also a bit dangerous, so I suggested we could release him into the wild. But my roommate says she can’t. She has an emotional connection with Larry. It’s been a few months now. I often see her trying to cuddle with him while he tries to claw at her. It’s totally bizarre, but she doesn’t want to give him up.
My roommate was drunk and hungry one night after she got home from a party. The only thing she had was frozen potato croquettes, which had to be baked in the oven. But she had no patience, so she threw them into a pan on high heat without cooking oil, while enjoying another vodka. In the meantime, the giant pile of potato croquettes caught on fire and a huge blaze flared up to the ceiling. First, we threw a towel over it, because that's what you always see people do in fire prevention videos, but the towel caught fire too.
Ultimately, we managed to put it out with a bucket of water. My roommate was particularly sad about the charred potato croquettes. She tried to eat the insides.
My roommate often locks herself out on her balcony without clothes on. She'll go smoke a cigarette, either naked or in her underwear, and close the door behind her without thinking about it. This happens in the winter too. I’d be out, having a good time on a date or at a party, and she'd call me when it's -2 degrees and say she was locked out and could I please come and save her. Of course, you have to go. You don’t want your naked roommate to freeze to death, clutching her final cigarette between her blue lips. She’s usually borderline hypothermic when I finally get to her, and I have to wrap her in blankets to warm her up again. Fortunately, she always takes her phone when she goes out for a smoke.
Two years ago, my roommate decided to throw me a surprise party for my birthday. When I came home late that night, the front door of the apartment was open and the stairwell was covered in vomit – it was literally up to the walls. A stray dog was running around our apartment, which was completely full of people. It was definitely a surprise, but not a particularly fun one.
There were at least 80 people inside, most of whom I’d never seen before. The party had gotten completely out of hand. A few days later, I got an email from my landlord. He brought up the vomit and the noise, and said that dozens of people had filed complaints with the police. We were fined €200. That definitely sucked, but not as much as scraping vomit and used condoms off the floor and walls after a birthday party I didn’t ask for.