Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Last night I was leaving work and something happened that made me stop and question exactly what I should do in this situation.

I saw the Roommate from Hell. I was walking to my gym and saw him as he crossed the street and as he tried to figure out whether or not he could cross through Loggia (an outdoor bar) to get to the 53rd Street. I didn't know what to do or what to say or whether I should call out his name and be cordial and say hello. I mean, the odds of him recognizing me were pretty slim given the fact that I am somewhat slim since he last saw me and I look totally different than I did before. Sadly, he looks exactly the same right down the fanny pack he always wore (a gay man with a fanny pack? Was he trying to be a lesbian?) I chose to do nothing and let him pass.

Living with the RFH was...well...hell. It got to the point where I never left my bedroom because I didn't feel comfortable living in the apartment that I had lived in for over a year prior to him moving in. Nothing I ever did from washing a dish to cleaning the bathtub made him happy. He would constantly yell and berate me because things weren't done to his specifications. Instead of coming to me to ask me questions, he would go to his friends who would loving plant doubts in his mind about me and then leave me to wonder why he didn't come to me first. Prime case scenario was the power bill that his friends insisted was too high and I was gouging him since they paid only half of what we were paying. Mind you they were living along but that's another story altogether. If I was ever online, I had to get off so he could use the one shared phone line for three hours talking to his friends. I suggested he get his own line since this line was 1) in my name and 2) that "was the terms our agreement and if I wanted him to have his own phone line I would have to pay for the installation." I ultimately got my own line just for the computer so I could pay more money. What a nice guy right? I mean, this was the guy who my friend Dawn and I agreed when we met him would be a good roommate.

Finally it all came to a head one weekend when I finally had enough of him bitching about the bills not being paid to his specifications or the cable or whatever. I was working a weekend shift at my old consulting gig and I forget exactly why he was up in arms but I got all of these emails from him when I got him saying things like, "If you're calling me at work just to fuck with me then you are playing with the wrong person." I hadn't even called him at work and I had told him on numerous occasions that I couldn't check emails at work since they blocked the mail sites. Finally, I got this voicemail that said to the following extent, "If this is how things are going to be then turn off the phone, turn off the cable, turn it all off."

So I did.

I called the phone company and had them suspend the line and leave a message that all calls could be taken on my computer line (that second phone line did come in handy). Mind you, the message said that the line was suspended at the customer's request (not for nonpayment as he said it did). I took the cable boxes from the living room and my room and condensed it down to one digital cable box and moved the TV from the living room to my room. If he wanted cable he could pay for it himself. If he wanted a phone, he could pay for it himself. I was reclaiming my life.

Well he came home ready to fight. He yelled and bitched and screamed and said that if he had to make a call he was going to use that line and tell his friends and family to call on that number. I just let him yell and make a fool of himself and actually one of his friends did call and I said they had the wrong number. He never made a call on my line because I made damn sure my computer stayed online the entire time. If his friends or family called outside of that one occasion I never heard from them.

Ultimately, I reopened the main line on the condition that he take it over and leave the voicemail open for a month to let people know they could call on my new phone number as I would just use my computer line for everything. As I told friends, sometimes to win the war you have to lose a few battles. Well in this case I only lost one but it was the one I needed to lose in order to win.

A few months later in December, he moved out as he was buying a house, I believe, in New Jersey. He didn't tell me until a few weeks before he moved out (although he did promise to pay the rent through the end of January which became a sordid mess of something else altogether). In fact, he didn't tell our landlady he was moving out until he actually started moving stuff out of the apartment and she popped her head out of the door to find out what was going on. His response to her, "What did you think was going on? Someone was robbing the place?"

So I saw him on the street last night. I was tempted to say something just to prove to myself that I didn't allow him to beat me down or keep me under his toe. But I let him go and I think that was the right decision. He's a miserable person with a nasty temper who has nothing but negativity around him and I'm better off not being associated with that -- even for a moment.
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