Either the almighty gods of Craigslist have been kind over the years, or I've become really adept at combing through Craigslist roommate ads and avoiding crazy people. I've now used Craigslist to find roommates in unfamiliar cities three times and managed to land myself with moderately normal human beings (to the girl in the last house who drunkenly ate all the tops off of my Trader Joe's muffins: don't think I've forgiven you just yet). Each time I was a little bit terrified not to have even met the people I was living with, but some combination of luck and common sense always worked out in my favor.
I guess you could say I'm rather proud of myself for navigating Craigslist so successfully. I mean, this is the same site that gave us sketchy Scientology recruitment ads, ads for "Fall Boyfriends," and even an ad from someone searching a companion to escape the "Ebola apocalypse" with them. And I'm not even going to scratch the surface on the underbelly of Craigslist that exists outside of the job and housing listings. The perk, though, of being as familiar with the site as I am, is that I notice the clear warning signs on ads that betray potential crazy roommates. Listen up, guys, because this could be the difference between you making a lifelong friendship and you ending up sharing toilet paper with a psycho:
Anything That Ends With "haha"
I'll give you an example. The words "must be down to chill" sound totally harmless. "Must be down to chill haha" sounds like someone you're going to wake up to three inches from your face smiling as they watch you sleep. NEXT.
Any Ad That Is Written In All Caps
FIRST OFF BECAUSE IT KIND OF FEELS LIKE THEY'RE SCREAMING AT YOU OVER THE INTERNET. SECOND OFF BECAUSE ANYONE WHO FEELS THE NEED TO ASSERT THEMSELVES THIS AGGRESSIVELY ON A ROOMMATE BOARD IS PROBABLY GOING TO ASSERT THEMSELVES EVERYWHERE THEY GO AND IS PROBABLY NOT SO GREAT AT PICKING UP ON SOCIAL CUES. SORRY THAT I JUST WRECKED YOUR LIFE A LITTLE BIT BY WRITING THIS ALL IN CAPS, BUT IT'S WORTH IT IF THIS DROVE THE POINT OF MY WARNING HOME.
Ads That Have A Lot Of Exclamation Points
Look, I am definitely guilty of abusing punctuation, so I'm not really one to talk. But there's a time and a place for it, and Craigslist is not that place. I feel like people who feel the need to put multiple exclamation points several times in a row are the kind that are lying about their age and/or are planning to run away from home, and that's why they're looking for housing. Surprise!!!!1!!!!!11!1! Now you're an accomplice.
Anyone Offering A Service In Addition To Money
You thought you were being casual when you slipped in that you were a masseuse and would be totally willing to give a few massages for free if you moved in, but we all know that's code for "I'm a creep. I'm a creepy McCreeper creepin' creep." If you're actually a masseuse, my friends, there are better ways to mention it than bartering for cheaper rent.
Ads That Are Trying Way Too Hard To Be Cool
You know it when you see it. They mention all the hipster films that they're into, share all these quirky fun facts about themselves ripped right out of an Instagram profile, and say things like, "If you want to live here, you MUST share a healthy hatred for cats wearing bow ties and the song "Wonderwall"." I'm sure these are actually nice people, but when you see an ad like that you know that the pre-existing roommates are writing it together and that they're best BEST friends, and you're doomed to be the third or fourth wheel forever. Also you can't help that you like Wonderwall. Unfortunately, none of us can.
Anything With The Word "ASAP" In It
What are you running from? Where are the bodies? Even when I've been at my most desperate (one semester I literally didn't have housing until the DAY classes started), I've managed to keep my chill on Craigslist, and people who don't kind of frighten me. It's like someone trying aggressively to sleep with you on the first date. Let me get to know you, broski! What's the big rush?
Ads Without Any Description Of The Person At All
I'm not saying you should go on Craigslist and give people your social security number, but if someone hasn't given you at least a vague idea of the kind of person that they are, it's either because they're ridiculously un-Craigslist-savvy or because they are Lex Luthor. Probably.
Ads That Have Actual Pictures Of The Person In Them
This is when Craigslist housing starts leaking into the murky territory of Craigslist "seeking" ads. It's especially awkward if the person has posted a selfie, like the kind where they're clearly working the angle that makes them as "appealing" as possible, often while using filters. Now that I know that you don't value your own safety, I ALSO know that you're the kind of person who would probably forget to lock the doors or leave the burner on or do something equally reckless and irresponsible. Nice try.
Anyone Asking For An "Open Minded" Person
I know that at first glance, this looks like it would be a good thing. They mean someone progressive, someone gay-friendly, someone who's down for a few beers on the weekend, right? WRONG. "Open minded" is usually code for "I'm going to keep you up all night with loud sex orgies, also don't expect anyone to ever respect your privacy ever again, ALSO I'm going to lecture you about how great my cult is and steal all your food from the fridge because I'm super communal and shit."
Alright everyone, I've said my piece. Next time you go scrolling for Craigslist roommates, don't say I didn't warn you.
Images: ABC; Giphy(9)