Roommate’s an issue

Annie Lane

Dear Annie: I hope you can stand another letter about roommate problems. I’m a single guy in my late 20s. I live with one roommate, “Larry,” and he’s getting on my last nerve.

Larry told me when he moved in that he was a clean person, didn’t leave dishes in the sink, kept the bathroom tidy, always took out the trash — pretty much none of which has turned out to be true. He cooks big meals, and then leaves all the dishes in the sink for days. He leaves toothpaste specks on the mirror and never cleans the toilet. He does take out the trash now and again, but never the recycling.

I’ve tried talking to him about all of these issues. Sometimes he apologizes. Sometimes he points out my own messes. I leave mail and other random things lying around, but that’s just clutter, not grime.

I’m tired of coming home to a gross apartment. It really puts me in a foul mood. We’ve still got six months left on our lease, and even then I can’t really afford to move. So I might be stuck living with him for a while. How can I make a roommate clean up? — Not the Maid

Dear Not the Maid: It might as well be a law of nature: Living with roommates will save you money but cost you some serenity. The secret to not losing it completely lies in compromise and humility.

Compromise often means choosing your battles. Larry’s standards for cleanliness will probably never rise to the level of yours, so decide which issues you truly can’t tolerate. For instance, you might want to forgo fighting over the toothpaste specks on the mirror and focus instead on the dirty dishes, which can lead to bigger problems (such as ruined flatware and cockroaches). Sit down and discuss concrete rules — write them down even — such as doing dishes immediately after using them or before going to bed. Gently call him out the moment you see him violating the rule.

The second concept to employ here is humility. Are you really the perfect roommate? We tend to have excellent vision when spotting others’ shortcomings but are myopic when it comes to seeing our own. If you focus more energy on cleaning your own messes, you’ll be less annoyed with Larry’s.

Dear Annie: I just read your column that featured the letter from “GSP Smith,” who put a small security camera in her mom’s retirement apartment. I did that, too, for my mother’s apartment, and I was informed by the staff that it’s illegal in Florida and many other states. Isn’t that outrageous?! I had to remove it. I’d love to see this discussed in your column. — Caring Daughter

Dear Caring Daughter: I did some research. While the staff was correct that it’s illegal in many states, it seems the laws are changing on this issue. Readers, I would encourage you all to check what the laws are in your state and voice any concerns to your local representative.

Editor’s note: Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.