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Following roommate rules makes living arrangements more pleasant

Nov. 7, 1997

The time of year is upon us when Baylor students everywhere start diving into the world of wondering where to live.

Thousands of Bears will march around from realtor to realtor getting talked into summer leases by grimy landlords, or stick around on campus looking for the best deal in affordable (yeah, right) student housing. All of them will be hoping that somewhere, the ideal living condition is waiting to welcome them.

Whether it's on campus, in an apartment or a neighborhood home, there is one constant that will ring true for nearly every decision:

You're probably going to need a roommate.

Whether it's a dorm room dive or a posh apartment flat, roommates are what make the living experience.

You could have a castle for all that it matters, with a hottub for a moat and a fridge eternally stocked with pudding snacks, but with the devil incarnate for a roommate, life just wouldn't be fun.

I'm lying. I'd live with Charles Manson for a pudding/Jacuzzi combo every night of the week. Some things are just worth any price you might pay.

Without a utopian scenario, though, the living can still be great, but it is up to you and your leasing cohorts to determine just how great things might be.

Simply put, there are rules every person should follow when it comes to being and getting along with a roommate.

1) Always deliver the phone messages. (This is a criminal preaching against the crime, here, but it needs to be said.)

This is especially true when it's a member of the opposite sex (for obvious reasons) or a relative. Nothing is more uncool than hearing the phone ring, listening to your roommate answer 'Hey Mom!' and then say 'no, I didn't realize you all would be here this afternoon ... oh, you talked to my roommate, I see...'

Save yourself the chagrin and just write a few stinking words down, whether it's on a sheet of notebook paper or in toothpaste on the bathroom mirror, and put the message in an obvious place (your economics book does not count). Make sure that paper isn't at all important, though. No one needs 'Jan called, 5 p.m.' scrawled on the back of a birth certificate.

2) Don't leave your chili dinner leftovers sitting on the coffee table or festering in the sink.

This is obvious, but often left undone. Not only that, but it's nasty. I will personally guarantee that nine out of 10 horrible smells lingering in the kitchen are the result of a direct violation of this rule.

The best way to handle this is to make sure everyone takes the eight seconds required to wash off a plate or bowl as soon as they get done using it.

If things continue to go poorly after a few reminders, though, use the roommate's comforter to wipe his or her dinnerware off. Change will soon follow.

3) Do your part to stock the groceries.

This one is a matter of simple consideration, and if it's you slacking in the produce department, the roommates will usually clue you in. Their names written in marker on their food and padlocks on the fridge are two great signals.

And finally, the cardinal sin of them all ...

4) Never, never, never use a roommate's toothbrush.

I don't care how desperate you are, use your finger or something, just don't violate the world of oral hygiene.

Honestly, it's less of a crime to rob roommates blind of all their worldly possessions and then call their parents to let them know how many times their son or daughter has shacked at a significant other's place, than it is to let them walk in on you in a bathroom with their Reach brush sticking out of your mouth.

Those bristles simply spend too much time with one person's saliva to not be considered a sacred tool, and there is no reason for them to work double time. Same thing goes for deodorant.

Hopefully, these rules will set a foundation for greatness for relationships forged between you and your roommates now and further down the road.

However, the key to any good relationship with someone else is knowing yourself.

Make sure that you think long and hard before getting involved in any knock-down, drag-out fights with roommates; those things do sometimes leave scars, and it's not always the other guy's fault.

For years, I lived under the impression that, while I wasn't the most organized person ever, I wasn't nearly as messy as the roommates around me.

Now, as I sit on the edge of my bed and submerge my ankles in wall-to-wall clothing piled at least a foot high, I have truly reached a new understanding of myself.

Those messy roommates rubbed off on me.

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