Sharing Spaces

I got a credit collection call today asking for “Jane”. When YA was younger and still needed daycare and after-school care, I rented out a room in my house to cover the costs.  Over the years I had a variety of housemates, some great experiences (still friends with Fredrick) and some sad (Dawn passed away a year after she lived here) and some just downright weird.

My first suspicion that Jane was a little on the weird side was the day she moved in. We had agreed on the day; I had told her I would be home about 5. When I arrived home, her car was parked in the driveway and she was asleep in the front seat.  I knocked on the window, she rolled down the window, said she’s be in shortly.  Then she went back to sleep and didn’t come in until 2 hours later.

She wanted to set up a weekly house meeting which I resisted; that’s too formal for my taste. Our dog, Katy Scarlet, didn’t like her.  She was estranged from her adult daughter but wouldn’t tell me why.  She never got a job, although she talked about looking quite a bit.  When she’d been living at the house for about 5 months, she told me she would have to travel to Colorado for something and due to a previous legal problem, she might be arrested and have to spend a couple of months there.  She never went to Colorado.  Then at the 6-month mark, massive numbers of forwarded pieces of mail started showing up for her.  One day I counted 44 of them and this went on for about 3 weeks.  She never explained.  Did I mention the dog didn’t like her?

At the 9-month mark, she made coffee in her little coffee pot and then left about an inch of coffee in the pot for days on end, never cleaning it. I asked her about it a few times and she always said “Oh, sorry, I’ll get to it today” but never did.  When the coffee had completely dried up, she moved the pot to the top of the refrigerator.  At this point I told her that things weren’t working out and that she’s need to find another place.  She didn’t argue.  The day she moved out, I took the ratty coffee pot and set it on top of one of her boxes.  She moved it to the counter.  I carried it out and put it in her car. After that day I never saw her again or even heard from her.

The credit collection calls began about 6 months after she moved out. These calls came from Colorado, Arizona, California and also here in Minnesota.  And the callers asked for her under a variety of names, although they were all a variation on “Jane”. They did slow down and then trickle off but over the years I’ve probably gotten 50 of these calls.  Today’s call was almost exactly 22 years since she moved out.

Tell me about a “colorful” housemate/roommate that you’ve had.

47 thoughts on “Sharing Spaces”

  1. Except for my two spouses and Annette, my roommate in Basel, I’ve never really had a roommate. Oh wait, I have! I’ll pull a BiR on you, and announce that I’ll think about it, and be back later. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. jeff was a guy who worked at a print shop
    he was the son of a guy who married one of our friends moms
    he was jewish and had the big fro
    he centered his life around drugs and music
    it was time to find a house to move into in november so we went out on saturday night to get the sunday paper and found a place with 4 bedrooms (4 guys) at an affordable price ($240 a month) and went to the landlords house and paid the deposit before the add hit the streets. we flipped coins for bedroom selection moved in on a cold december weekend i really didn’t know jeff at all.
    mark i grew up with and hung out with at school, dave was marks friend and a great guy who was my first gay friend although it wasn’t acknowledged at the time and jeff who came from california and had a different set of references. he was the organizer who set up cleaning schedule with who cleaned what rooms on the rotation and what got cleaned in each room, he arranged parties in the house most every weekend and had an interesting assortment of people stopping in. it was a big old house on portland and lake with wonderful woodwork and a large living room dining room and was wonderful for get togethers
    we hadn’t done this before, any of us. it was everybody’s first house and jeff kind of proclaimed himself overseer except he was a leader whose followers didn’t follow, he eventually moved out with a couple of the people who came over to a party one night and we kept track of him but he followed an odd path of drugs sex and rock and roll. when you see it in print it sounds glamorous, when you watched jeff robot it was kind of pathetic. drugs got him with some paranoia induced episodes landing him in the nut house, sex wasn’t sexy it was sleazy and rock and roll was loud music i didn’t really like, lots of yes, emerson lake and palmer, pink floyd, wishbone ash, i was into jazz and folk and unfortunately in a moment of vanity on moving in i demonstrated that my stereo while not the biggest did have the best sound so it was declared the house stereosovi couldn’t go listen to my own music in my room
    mikes davis mississippi john hurt and joni mitchell is where i was at, 1973 and that began a couple years of moves every 6 months with new attempts at room mate chemistry until i bought my house in 75 i had my brother and my girlfriend each take a stint before moving in then i went solo until i got married in 81
    those were interesting days
    thanks for the flashback vs
    i took guitar lessons from a guy who booked a room in someone else’s house and i didn’t get it, i couldn’t imagine having an interloper to deal with on a daily basis. i have enough trouble with my significant others in this life, plugging in random bodies would have been too much.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I had excellent roommates in college and am close to two of them now. Then in grad school . . . not so good. A few years ago my finances hit the rocks. In desperation, I rented the upstairs of my home to a couple I didn’t know. That did not go well.

    The husband was a sweet guy who worked in a machine shop. Born in Germany, he lived with acute guilt about his country’s history. I once made the mistake of calling him a “German.” He made it clear that I had just said the ugliest thing possible about him.

    We never had a chance at friendship because of his wife, a pretty woman who had gone to high school with my erstwife. She was spiteful and volatile, but I don’t care to go into details because I concluded she was mentally ill and not in control of herself. I spent about a year with them. In that time she had two spectacular meltdowns. She was one of the unhappiest people I’ve ever met. I was relieved when the two of them moved out.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Rise and get the eviction papers ready, Baboons,

    My cousin, Diane. Oh, Lordy, she was a mess. And she still is. At every decision point life provides, she makes the wrong choice!

    Many years ago I allowed divorced, single mother Diane to move into my upstairs of my St Paul house after she was evicted because she could not pay rent. Her ex-husband did not support the children financially. She stole food, she neglected her kids, she was fired from 2 jobs in 4 weeks, she did not pay the minimal rent we charged, and finally, she left her kids ages 2and 6 years old, alone in the house when she went to work. I had to report her to Child Protection for that one.

    I asked her to leave. She did leave, but she left behind a 10 page, single spaced letter outlining my misbehavior towards her, then stated she had become a witch. She “cursed” me with a “spell.” This makes me laugh just typing this. Several weeks later the collection calls started.

    Her life has been so difficult. It is hard to take her seriously, but when I do I avoid and pity her.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ve personally known two people–both men–who always made poor choices. Before meeting them I thought bad decisions were made in ignorance. No. Those guys made bad decisions when they were ignorant AND when they had all the facts. In fact (and I’m quite sure of this) the more solid facts they had the more inevitable it was that they would choose the most disastrous option.

      And now, god help us, this nation is led by such a man.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Other than Robin, my current roommate, I’ve only had two other roommates. Both were while I was in college and both are still good friends. One is an internationally-known artist and the other is a James Beard Award winner. I’m the least interesting of the three of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Patty and I weren’t exactly roommates, but we might as well have been. We lived in adjoining “apartments” in an old mansion that had been divided into multiple living spaces. One of the more satisfying and interesting living arrangements I’ve had. A grand old mansion filled with really interesting characters.

    Patty was a trust fund baby, whose childhood had been traumatic and chaotic. During her teens she had fallen in with a crowd that introduced her to drugs, and she had spent a fair amount of time in rehab. Her “friends” from this period of her life would show up from time to time, still pushing drugs and leading her astray.

    Patty was cuter than a bugs ear, smart and quick on the uptake, she was a delight when she was firing on all cylinders. She struggled with depression and when it came to money management she didn’t have a clue. She would often rely on me to float her loan until she could make her next monthly withdrawal from her trust fund. I have lots and lots of Patty stories.

    Patty and I would start the day by eating breakfast together at the restaurant at Holman Field. Then we’d each go off to our respective jobs. Upon returning from work in the late afternoon, Patty would knock on my front door, and announce that it was “martuni time.” She’d have fixed us each a martini. She’d come in, and we’d both plop down in my new sofa, and chat. I had never had martini’s before, but with Patty it became a beloved late afternoon ritual.

    At the time I was doing some volunteer counseling at Face to Face on Friday evenings. My fellow counselors became a group of friends who enjoyed doing all kinds of things together. One of them was playing softball. Patty joined our softball team. Everyone was smitten by her, she was a lot of fun.

    Unfortunately, Patty had a tendency to attract males who were leeches. Don’t know if it was the money, drugs, or her good looks, but she seemed forever hooked up with some unsavory character or another. Eventually she married one of them.

    The last time I saw Patty she had just become a mother, and she was drunk. She may also have been high on drugs. She was living on Cape Cod, and though she made a brave effort to put up a happy front, I sensed she was in trouble. Now I have lost track of her. Even though she had an unusual last name, I’ve been unable to track her down. Perhaps it’s better so, I fear hers is not a happy ending.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The movie Sideways features two guys on a short vacation in California wine country. One brilliant touch is the pairing of men who don’t have a single thing in common except the fact they once were roommates. That’s what makes roommates interesting. Most of the time we pick the people we associate with. But life sometimes thrusts a roommate into our lives who is totally unlike us. They become that oddity: someone we get to know extremely well although they are not the kind of person we’d choose to be with.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love that movie. Paul Giamatti is so brilliant. Then he went on to play John Adams which was even better, if possible. (We continue our string of shared beloved movies).


  8. When I was saving money to buy my house, I moved into an upper duplex for two years. It was a three bedroom that I knew about because one of my coworkers at the bookstore had lived there for a number of years and was moving out to live with her soon-to-be-husband. The other inhabitants were another bookstore employee and the sister of another employee, so I knew one pretty well and had met the other a few times. They were both recommended by the woman who was moving out. The one who worked at the bookstore was a former Trappist monk who had recently left the monastery and was adjusting to life outside the religious order. He had wanted become a priest, but the church thought he was better suited to the monastic life. It didn’t work out for him.

    As a coworker he was pleasant and responsible. Once I moved into the duplex, though, I started seeing a different side of him. One of his quirks was that he left the windows open in the dead of winter. I would get up in the morning and find that the bathroom window had been left open and it was 50 degrees in the bathroom. Or that he had left all the dining room windows open and an icy wind was blowing through. I tried talking to him about how this bothered me, both from a personal comfort standpoint and also because I am opposed to wasting heat on principle. It soon came obvious that expressing objections made him more, not less, likely to leave windows open. He evidently wanted to annoy me.

    The other housemate wasn’t around much, as she was planning a wedding and spending lots of time with her boyfriend. When she moved out, another sister of a bookstore employee moved in. She got along better with him than I did. I remember, though, that she invited her family over for Thanksgiving dinner, a few siblings and her elderly mother. I was about to leave to go to my mother’s place. Just as they were sitting down to eat, and I was about to exit, he put on some extremely loud music – I think it was the Violent Femmes, IIRC. His door was shut, but the volume was such that you would have thought it was open. I knocked on the door, he opened it, and I said “Jeez, learn some manners,” and left.

    While I lived there, he was dating a few women. He had a pattern of becoming smitten with a young woman, but when she started to warm up to him and seem receptive, he would end the relationship by simply not answering the phone or returning calls. One time he arranged for one of his girlfriends to meet him at our place to go to a movie, but then he wasn’t there when she arrived. After waiting around for an hour or so she left. That was his way of communicating that the relationship was over.

    I didn’t keep in touch with him after I moved out. I’ve sort of wondered over the years, though, whether he had any history of abuse in the church that might have contributed to his maladjustment. Interestingly, while he was in law school he interned for a lawyer who is quite famous locally for representing victims of clergy abuse.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. My quirkiest roommate was probably Wasband, but let’s not go there.

    I spent the summer before my senior year of college in San Francisco, invited by a friend who had graduated and moved out there. She and two other girls (both also fresh out of Iowa State) needed a fourth for a nice 4-bedroom apartment just blocks from the Golden Gate Bridge. None of the girls was really outrageous, but between the three of them there were parties to go to, the location of some mighty fine restaurants, advice about the temp jobs I was working, help ditching some guy I’d met in a bar (I didn’t say we were always smart), and directions on how to navigate the busses and streetcars in SF. (No one had a car.)

    Mid-summer we realized we were paying so much for our luxury apartment that we couldn’t afford to go out much. Found a two-bedroom place out in “The Avenues” (west end, nearer the ocean) for about half the rent. After we got rid of the fleas, we had a great time. Suzi, who was my room-mate, was gone most nights at her boyfriend’s, so I had a room almost to myself. She WAS a character had supported herself by selling door-to-door exercise machines, etc. The other Susan (we still keep in touch at Christmas) was dating an older guy with a “chocolate colored XKE”, and regularly made us roll on the floor laughing. I have pictures from one of our Monopoly Wine parties that would make you all laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. OT: I just took a surprising phone call from my daughter. She was fooling around on a web site that lists people who have “unclaimed property” that they might access if they can prove they are the person specified. My daughter’s name was not listed as having unclaimed property being held by the state of Minnesota.

    My name was listed. Twice.

    I am not buying any chocolate colored XKEs just yet. But it is a fun thing to contemplate.

    It reminds me of a sweet film nobody has seen, a Gene Wilder film set in Ireland called “Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin In the Bronx.” If my unclaimed fortune is over a million bucks I’ll fly out to celebrate my birthday in Minnehaha Park with y’all.


    1. I notice that you set the bar pretty high: “over a million bucks.” Even a modest 50,000 bucks should be more than plenty for that.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I checked out the web site for unclaimed property. A company called Reliastar has money for me. Maybe Tuesday I’ll be able to find out how much. My dad took out a life insurance policy with that company. I thought that money was gone. This is fun!

      Liked by 3 people

  11. I just had a weird experience—I put my dogs out for their morning potty break just in time to glimpse goldfinches copulating atop a garden stake. Who knew?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Having lived with many dogs, some terriers, I say they count. My terriers all seem to believe they are human, with the exception of aggressive mousing, which is definitely a terrier trait.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Only had three roommates, both fine. Second one was a high school friend so I knew his many quirks going in. He was failing at the U when I moved in. I started supervising is study, made him right a to do list, woke him up from naps, edited his papers. He went on to become a very successful dentist. And not one word of thank you. Kidding. But I doubt he was aware of what I did. Dizziness runs through all five children in that family. Brilliant, but thick. His younger sister was on my yearbook staff for three years, editor last year. If anyone told a joke we would all wait for XXX’s 20 minutes. It took her that long to get the joke and laugh. He went onto a bit of fame. In the 70’s Steve Cannon needed a dentist in the middle of the night. He called many. My roommate opened for him. Steve went onto praise him on the radio over the next few years.
    My first roommate was a dorm roommate. We were about perfectly matched. We were in a suite with another pair. We got along well. Three guys from northern MN and a Jew from NY. Wonderful e experience seeing his point of view.
    Other roommate and I shared the master suite of a converted one south Chicago mansion, once owned by Mortimer Adler. We ignored each other in that huge room. I only lived with him for a quarter. He later slipped into psychophrenia.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. OT Started last week with 7 medical appts. before the end of June. Had three this week. Now have 8 remaining. Two doctors have prescribed three drugs I cannot take because they are forbidden for upcoming tests. I need a spread sheet.

    Liked by 1 person

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