How to Live with Other People (Like A Jerk)

by Patrick Braud

So you’re moving in with some new roommates. If you’re consulting this guide I’m guessing that you’re an only child and this is the first time you’re living with other people. Or you had siblings and you were all just awful, terrible to each other, or you previously had roommates and you totally messed up and you’re looking to not do whatever it is you did last time. Well, I don’t know what you did last time. I’m just an internet article; I don’t know you or your life. You’re out of luck there, but I can give you some general pointers on the proper ways of living with other human beings.

© 2005 Warner Bros. Entertainment"WHERESTHEDETONATOR...ha, just kiddin'! Hey, roomie!"

© 2005 Warner Bros. Entertainment
“WHERESTHEDETONATOR…ha, just kiddin’! Hey, roomie!”

It can be a bit of a process if this is your first time living with these folks. You want to make a good first impression, and time and time again I’ve learned the hard way: you don’t make a good first impression showing your new roomies your awesome Batman costume by hanging upside down from the ceiling above their bed at 2:35 a.m. And it is especially not a good first impression if you then drop down on them from the ceiling at about 2:37 a.m. It is even further not a good first impression to immediately grab them and scream in their faces in the Christian Bale voice.

You’ll learn that the ways you go about your daily business may interfere with the respective daily businesses of your newfound roommates. They might not say, be happy with you piling all of your dirty clothes in the living room in an attempt to create a 7-foot tall masterpiece that you scale and designate “Sweaty Gym Socks Peak.” But hey, sometimes people don’t want to play “Donner Party Adventure” with you; that’s just life. The good news is that there’s always room for you to work your own habits and large, disorganized piles of things you like to leave around into their lives, and vice versa maybe!

Leave Helpful Notes Around the Apartment

Like this, but more of a Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Like this, but more of a Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Let’s turn the tables a little bit; maybe you’ve just encountered something that you’re not used to from a fellow roommate. Here’s a scenario: you just found a single dirty dish and cup in the sink when you clearly designated dirty dishes to be piled in each individual’s room until they begin to look like a Cat In the Hat style balancing act. You may not have verbally discussed it with your roommates, but you’re clearly leading by example, here.

A great way to combat this kind of single dish & cup combo menace is to just leave a helpful note saying something like “Not cool,” and placing it just next to the particular problem. This works for nearly any kind of issue, and your roommates will understand not actually bringing these kinds of things up to them, because you’re just trying to make them like, not a big deal, y’know? It’s not worth getting all confrontational or whatever! Vague notes avoiding direct conflict point out the varying things you aren’t comfortable with, and I would recommend never taking any of them down so that your roommates can know every little thing that upsets you, and all at once.

Move all piles of smelly food and clothes to own room, because smells disappear when a door closes

"Damn right he’s not the father! WOO!"

“Damn right he’s not the father! WOO!”

This is just science. It follows the track outlined above of Seussian balancing acts, though expanded from dirty to dishes to a variety of areas, including piles of blankets and hoodies that you keep out in the common areas for warmth and then discard when you get a little too fired up watching TV and dancing with the non-baby-daddies of Maury.

Despite the fact that you haven’t washed these in months because hey, you have other hoodies and blankets you’re trying to get through before your usual hoodie and blanket laundry load, no one will notice the odor of your furious, sweaty dancing when you shove the offending articles in piles underneath your bed. If it gets really bad, feel free to stick a towel underneath the door crack to block the odor from seeping out into living rooms and into the nostrils of people who apparently have sensitive noses. Better make this a used towel, though. Don’t want to waste a good clean one on floor germs.

Designate things that are yours with labels/stamps/lines drawn on the floor/etc. just so they don’t get confused

Have something of yours that you don’t want the grubby paws of your roommates to snatch right up? “What’s mine is yours” is for commies and Europe so let them know with a very clear label. Sharpies are okay, but why not throw a little flair on your obsessive cheapness with a stamp or label maker that you stole from the supermarket? Just remind them that “Navel Oranges PLU 4012” means you.

“If you don’t want me to have all of these clothes of yours, just keep having a different conversation over the phone. Cool, thanks!”

“If you don’t want me to have all of these clothes of yours, just keep having a different conversation over the phone. Cool, thanks!”

Your roommates might say things akin to, “That was mine, I bought that last week,” or, “I literally just bought that. Like, today. You were even there!” Just remember to trust your “impeccable, totally unselfish and incredibly giving and awesome and everybody loves you forever” self. It’s not your roommates’ fault that their memories are clearly terrible and that they’re probably really stupid, that’s just society, brother. They fell through the cracks.

Be the life of the party…every night

Are your roommates trying to study for their MCAT tomorrow, or trying to finish some late night seo services work? Just trying to sleep at 4:27  in the morning? Get them to experience life and to stop being so stuffy and lame by bringing the party to them at all hours of the day and evening! They’ll understand by the empty liquor bottles you leave strewn about your room and the varied thin and wiry people you bring back from that new outdoor club under the freeway that you’re a free spirit who can party all night, especially thanks to those magic hard candies and breath strips your club friends continually supply you with.

Adopt a cat for the apartment

Luckily, just in case things still aren’t going well for you and your roommates, there is a last resort that everyone can get behind: adorable kitties! The Internet seems to like those, so ignore possible complaints of allergies or “dog-people” and generalize the Internet’s rampant love to your roommates!

Whatever it is, I bet it’s just the cutest widdle infection!

Whatever it is, I bet it’s just the cutest widdle infection!

The actual adoption process is easy; just make sure you have a big enough cut of meat to coax the adorable kitty to you. Your roommates might say something about weight limits for pets, or point out that the local zoo has lost track of one of its exhibits in the large cat enclosure, but allay their fears by telling them that you got the smallest one. Though it would also be a good idea to tell them that they should get a rabies shot, or whatever shot stops the spread of infections that may or may not be carried by an ocelot.


ONE OF US, ONE OF USPatrick is a writer and comedian living in Chicago and lives with very good roommates, even including a mouse who showed up a few days ago. We named him “Sir Clyde Squeaks” and he’s either going to leave our apartment or he’s probably going to die. Patrick hopes he is literate and has access to the internet to see this warning! Go look at Patrick’s Tumblr. It’s fun, there are cartoons and stuff. Then go follow him on Twitter @fatfraud. There are fewer cartoons there.

Poison -- the gift that keeps on taking.
Patrick previously gave bad advice with How to Date (Like a Jerk), and also demonstrated how to properly be a crazy person with Christmas Gift Ideas (For Your Sworn Enemy).

More from Patrick Braud

One Comment

  1. Reblogged this on Wildmen: Explicating Irrationality and commented:
    interesting + entertaining…..

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