Finding a good roommate is hard... but being a good roommate is just as challenging, trust me. Seriously, it can be a real challenge to be considerate of others 24 hours a day and seven days a week when you're focused on being the most awesome version of yourself. Household chores are easily forgotten when you're trying to balance being an all-star at work with your dreams of becoming a social media sensation. (What? Just me? You guys are all liars.)
For instance, I know from experience that dishes pile up in the sink very easily when a new season of Orange is the New Black gets released on Netflix, which you feel obligated to live tweet. (That requires your undivided attention, all weekend. I get it. Any sensible roommate gets it.)
But, unfortunately, it's not always about you, and there are times that we must put our consideration for others above our favorite TV series. #adulthood. In case you've forgotten how to make that work, or were never taught how to do so, here are five of my favorite childhood books that will remind you how to be the well-mannered roommate you need to be.
Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi
It's true, everyone poops: good people, bad people, swimsuit models, the cashier at the grocery store, professional athletes, and cute guy you see reading across from you on the N train every morning that ended up on the Hot Dudes Reading Instagram. So, if and when you feel like climbing onto a high horse and looking down on your roommates like peasants for leaving toothpaste in the sink, remember this: everyone poops, and it all stinks. At the end of the day, we're all human, and life would be a little bit easier for everyone if we all just showed a little bit of compassion.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
What I took away from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: go your own way. The whole alphabet went running up this coconut tree, and by the time Y and Z got there, the whole thing came crumbling down, ruining it for everyone. So, when your roommates are picking up new hobbies or getting lost in new trends, feel free to go your own way. Just because they want to do juice cleanses doesn't mean you cant eat cheeseburgers and enjoy them, and just because they think reading makes them more sophisticated doesn't mean you need to dissect Proust. Be who you want to be. You go ahead and watch the letter A climb up that coconut tree, wave, and go find your own tree: mango, cherry, pine, willow — whatever moves you.
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
If your roommate is nice enough to offer you an inch, don't go taking a mile. If you're lucky, your roommate might have a parent who likes to send care packages from time to time: snacks, dish soap, body wash, shampoo, etc. And, if said mother lives in the suburbs, she likely sends the Costco size of everything, which might inspire your roommate to share the wealth. If you have this, you are blessed. So, when the snacks have been eaten, and the dish soap has been squeezed for all its worth, show your gratitude by making a contribution to the communal supplies. Do not assume another care package will arrive, or that if/when it does, you'll be cleared for use. Most importantly, do not assume that because the last three months supply of toilet paper came from someone's parents that you get to skip your turn in the toilet-paper-buying rotation. (Because don't forget, everyone poops.) And, you don't want to find yourself on the toilet next to an empty roll because your once-generous roommate realized you're an ungrateful user of free toilet paper.
Fanny and May by Jon Buller
This book not only makes me dream of living in a house made of cake, but also reminds me of that one roommate who eats everyone's food — an apple here, a piece of bread there, and next thing you know, they drank the last of your milk and haven't replaced it, and you're stuck eating a bowl of dry cereal. Like Fanny, this type of roommate lets temptation get the best of him, and has little consideration for the consequences. Before you know it, an empty milk carton has started World War III: accusations are being made, insults are flying, feelings are being hurt. Moral of the story: Don't be that person. Don't ruin breakfast for everyone. Buy your own milk.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Although this book is about a giving tree, it acts as a reminder that human doormats do exist. And if you find yourself living with one, it's your responsibility to be sure that you're not taking advantage of her often-giving manner. She might not say anything when you agree to split a cab but forget to Venmo her your portion (for the third time and counting), but she is most definitely keeping count. Maybe the gesture to repay her truthfully just slipped your mind, but when you remember, offer to grab her dinner on your way home, buy a round at the bar Friday night, or simply give her the cash you owe her. So, whether it's a cab ride, a round of drinks, or your roommate giving you a shoulder to cry on, remember to treat others how you want to be treated. Karma is real, so make sure yours is good.