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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Column: Roomies

You came to college, eager to escape parental authority and enjoy the never-ending sleepovers of life with friends, but what happens when these friends begin eroding your patience? You may have thrown tantrums back at home, but you shouldn’t risk pissing off the only pals you have … Eight?

If you often find yourself waking to the boisterous entrance of drunken buddies; if mere thoughts of your roommates have your head crashing into your desk; if you’d like to visit a counselor to discuss your newfound desire to strangle fellow residents; or if you’ve resorted to studying in the dusty corners of quiet antique shops downtown to avoid your hellish dorm or apartment … the time is ripe for action!

Before you jump the gun and charge toward your friends with a fly swatter and set of sharpened pencils at your disposal, remember that the positive correlation between your stress levels and roommate exposure means your blood pressure is nearly as high as cirrus clouds. Also, remnants of any sleep-deprivation-induced crankiness may skew your judgment into a convoluted chaos reminiscent of cubist artwork.

Take a few deep breaths and settle those angry waves of panic crashing painfully against the insides of your stomach. Though it would certainly be more fun to incinerate their possessions and interminably pester them with whacks from your badminton racket, your friends probably wouldn’t appreciate so subtle a gesture.

If you’d like your friendship to slide along as smoothly as a freshly-oiled closet door, you’ll do things in a more tasteful way. Toss your passive aggression off the nearest cliff and unclench your sweaty fists: actions may speak louder than words, but lawsuits are more expensive than compromises.

So drink some tea, light a candle and cremate your infinite list of grievances. Approach your roommates once your anger is as tame as a bunny rabbit, gently requesting that they be more courteous and accommodating to your needs. After you politely explain the implications their actions have on you, they’ll (hopefully) be happy to comply…

But if your fiendish friends really have risen from the depths of hell and your frustration tank is about to overflow, rather than dashing out of college to avoid the decades of aging they will etch onto your lovely face, I demand you to quit your trembling and be a (wo)man!

Feeble souls may hastily pack their belongings, hitchhike to the nearest airport and book the next flight home … but you are not among the weak. If you have been able to deal with your roommates thus far without spontaneously (or even expectedly) combusting, you most likely have the willpower to endure a few more months of misery.

After you have honestly exhausted every possible method in the quest to reconcile the differences between you and your roommates, you have my permission to isolate yourself in the nearest bookstore available and saturate a few dozen encyclopedias with large, salty spouts of tears.

Once your eyes are as dry as sand in the Saharan sun, however, you must pick yourself up and stop allowing jerkish friends to be the rain on your picnic. You may not have realized this in your cozy, sheltered life with family, but the real world is full of obstacles in every form.

Though dealing with obnoxiously difficult people may scratch sharply at the boundaries of your patience, it will give you people skills that rival those of CEOs. Rather than taking this burden as a curse, consider it a chance to become a better person.

According to my inner statistical genius, the odds are against roommates being grotesque, carnivorous goblins in disguise. So keep trying to unscrew their thinking caps and twist a few cogs in their mental machinery. Do not hesitate to cowardly camouflage yourself in the hustle and bustle of coffee shops around campus when tensions have surpassed your tolerance.

If the prospect of spontaneous human combustion is keeping you up at night, reduce your likelihood of becoming a victim by forging new friendships wherever you go and gathering some good karma points by being the rainbow of everyone’s day. The more positive and friendly you are to others, the more likely they are to return the favor.

And for those lucky few who have never been troubled by a housemate, you might just be the evil trolls bursting the ears of those around you and spreading disorder like butter on toast. Be conscious of your actions and try not to shove your roommates into the dreary depths of despair – or worse, insanity. Good luck, all!

ZENITA SINGH will generously read any gossip, melodramatic life revelations or pleas for help you send to zensingh@ucdavis.edu!

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