Space Relations: How to Deal with Different Schedules

A lot of what I talk about in this column involves the way roommates interact with each other. And I think one reason it’s interesting to me is that there are tons of studies conducted about what makes or breaks romantic relationships (money, kids, work) but nobody seems to do these studies on roommates. I guess the thinking is that if one roommate is unhappy with another, someone can just move out. Simple! But as many of us know, it’s not always easy to move when we don’t like our roommates. It’s expensive, it’s difficult and in many cases your next roommate isn’t guaranteed to be any better than your current one.

Because of these things, many of us stay where we are and deal with our roommates one day at a time. Some days suck, but other days it’s nice to have someone to watch The Wedding Singer with for the 340th time while eating a box of macaroni and cheese. Only a couple of times in my professional roommate career (when I was the lease-holder) have I said, “I think it’d be best if you moved out.” Actually, one of those times it came out more like, “You know what? Why don’t you plan on making June your last month here? Pack up your shit, and GET OUT!!!” Those were good times. But the only other instance I ever asked someone to move, it was for one basic reason: Our schedules were just too different.

When you’re looking for a roommate, you start with high expectations. “I want to live with someone who’s just like me!” you think to yourself. “Someone who loves infomercials and showering daily and paying bills and river tubing!” Then after all of your friends say they aren’t interested in moving in and you get like 47 Craigslist replies from a bunch of people who aren’t like you at all, you begin to lower those expectations. Eventually you might find yourself narrowing down the lot to a vegan chef who refuses to wear clothing between the hours of 7pm and 9am, a freelancer who works from home, a waitress who keeps odd hours, or a student. In fact, if you’re in New York City like I am, the chances of those being your top four applicants is around 96 percent.

Though I never dabbled in the world of naked vegan chefs, I have lived with the remaining three options. And let me tell you, they were all nice people who paid their bills on time and showered daily, and a couple even liked infomercials as much as I do. The problem is, they all had weird schedules that conflicted with mine, and it totally ruined any chances of us being true friends. I mean, on the surface we were friendly with each other. But deep down, I was stewing. In the end, the one I eventually asked to move out was the waitress, but admittedly it was in part because she ate all my cashews and lied about it. More importantly, though, her schedule was driving me insane.

Now, let me say that I am not a huge fan of 9-5 jobs. So back when I had a 9-5 (more like 9-7:30) job, I was probably not the most pleasant person to be around at all times. But that being said, I did have a solid routine. I was very scheduled, and I always did the same things at the same times. I woke up at the same time, took a shower at the same time, left the house at the same time and got home at the same time virtually every day. My roommates who didn’t have set schedules, however, did not care about these routines. If one wanted to take a shower at 7:45am when I typically got in the shower, he would. If another had the whole day off to do her Pilates workout video while I was at work but for some reason decided to start the video approximately 27 seconds before I got home, I was supposed to just shrug and go, “Eh, I guess I’ll watch that movie I’ve been thinking about all day on my computer in my bedroom.” Sure, there were ways around these things, but for the most part all they did was piss me off.

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    • Samuel

      I just wanted to say I really enjoy this feature! What you write about is what I have to deal with with my roommate, so… It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my roommate angst, unfortunately.

      Since I’m just starting out with the whole roommate thing (that isn’t my sister), I’ll keep in mind that a roommate with a similar routine is key. Which makes sense, because my roommate in college was, ! She stayed up late and would let her alarm clock go off for HOURS.