The January that I turned 19, I had gone through some changes in my life, most recently switching campuses after my parents couldn’t afford to pay main campus tuition anymore. I chose a local branch campus, as it would save literally thousands of dollars. I intended to live at home and commute, but the reality of Midwest winters quickly set in, and I realized that I couldn’t be making the hour commute each day safely.
I found a cute apartment on Craigslist that seemed reasonable for what I could afford on my waitress salary. The ad described the apartment as quiet, well landscaped, and spacious. The girl who listed it seemed nice enough upon emailing, and we soon agreed to meet up so that I could see the place and meet the other roommates.
Upon seeing the space in person, I saw that the house was homey and was minutes away from my school. I would be sharing the space with two other female students- JoAnn and Bobbi- who were close friends. JoAnn was gorgeous, with model good looks and was very extroverted. Bobbi, who was slightly heavy and introverted, seemed content to be her shadow, and was always in close proximity to JoAnn.
Lana, who had listed the room, seemed in a rush to find a sublease, but I cut her some slack. After all, most people are in a hurry to get off of the hook for rent. She gave no explanation for leaving, and I did not ask. Feeling that I could not pass up such a great deal, I agreed to sublease.
At first, things were fun. The three of us went to parties together, and I felt a sense of comradery and goodwill towards my new roommates. I had obviously made the right choice in relocating -- we were going to have so much fun! In retrospect, I see how incredibly naïve I was.
JoAnn, always extremely popular with the men, found one she liked, and began spending all of her time with him. At first, Bobbi got very angry with JoAnn. They frequently had loud fights over JoAnn not spending enough friend time with Bobbi, and I tried my best to stay out of them. Soon, Bobbi’s volatile behavior began to manifest in increasingly bizarre ways.
First, Bobbi began driving drunk on a regular basis. She would arrive home from parties staggering and sour smelling, her car askew in the driveway. When JoAnn and I discussed the danger and potential for harm in this with her, she got defensive and felt that she was being “ganged up on” and left the house.
Then, she began not only refusing to leave the house for the majority of the day, but to become irate when JoAnn and I did not lock the door when we were home and in the house. We lived next to an extremely safe retirement community, and while I always locked the door upon leaving, was not in the practice of doing so while I was in my own apartment. This fear, while in some places rational, was completely out of place in this situation and arrived with no warning. Still, JoAnn and I agreed to make an effort so that Bobbi would feel safe.
But this was nothing near the end of her antics. Bobbi soon began telling all of our elderly neighbors that I was a stoner who spent days on end smoking pot in the house. I was young and did not even smoke pot, and so I was bewildered. Again, this development came without any kind of prior warning.
At first, my feelings were extremely hurt, with this being the first time she had ever singled me out. However, JoAnn soon revealed to me that the former roommate (whose room I had taken) had not only left, but had dropped out of school after months of Bobbi’s abuse. That was why she was in such a hurry to sublet -- not because of her finances, but because she could not tolerate Bobbi’s odd behavior any longer!
The final incarnation of Bobbi’s downward spiral was the worst phase. Little things around the house began to go missing -- sometimes it was sunglasses, or a pair of socks. As these are things that typically go missing, JoAnn and I shrugged it off as happenstance. However, it began to be more noticeable as larger things went missing. Pants, jewelry, hairbrushes, even underwear -- all gone. At this point, we both felt as though we were losing our minds.
Finally, one afternoon as Bobbi bent down to unload the dishwasher, JoAnn screamed. “Oh my god, Bobbi, are those my freaking underwear?” Bobbi, bending down, had unwittingly revealed the band of a very distinctive pair of underwear that JoAnn owned. Bobbi immediately became flustered. “Erm, well, no, I just….” She said, failing to find the words to explain this.
JoAnn stormed into Bobbi’s room. Tearing through her drawers, she soon found all of our missing belongings. The strangest part -- we all wore notably different sizes, and few of the stolen items would have fit Bobbi. She was taking things just to take them.
JoAnn refused to speak to Bobbi after that incident and stayed with friends and her boyfriend. I forgave Bobbi for her theft, and made a mental note to keep my valuables hidden. Still, when my cash tips from waitressing (which were hidden in multiple places across my room) went missing a few weeks later, I had no more forgiveness left to give. It was a violation that I could not forget, especially as I was barely getting by as it was. I knew that I needed out of the situation, and so I too began staying at my boyfriend’s most nights while I waited for the lease to end.
On the days leading up to the move-out, neither JoAnn nor Bobbi would speak to each other, and used me as a go-between, a la an early 90s sitcom. They would stand feet apart, using me to relay messages to one another. It was ridiculous, and I left that first living situation with a bad taste in my mouth.
Looking back, I see that Bobbi may have been going through an adjustment as well. College can be daunting and stressful at times, and the pressure of losing a best friend to her new man can make many women act out -- perhaps not always in such a drastic way. While these articles prove that one need not be a stranger to be a bad roommate, since then I only live with people I already know.
I’ve never spoken to Bobbi since we moved. We were very young, and I hope that she has since found a living situation that is right for her, and has worked through the issues causing her to act out.