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They’re Just Wasting Paper

, , , , | Friendly | May 26, 2022

I was in need of lodging for just a few months while working on a project a day’s travel from home. Because the town was booming, empty apartments were unheard of and most people had a couple of roomies in each bedroom plus a couple in the living room. I was thrilled to find a sole tenant looking to fill his second bedroom. It was a nice building, nice location, AND fair rent, so I jumped on the opportunity.

When I arrived with my stuff, there was an eviction notice on the door. My new roomie told me it was nothing to worry about. He said he had been a couple of days late with the rent and the building manager overreacted. That sounded okay.

As I settled in over the next few days, I got to know [Roomie] a bit and learned he was on his first-ever job, making more than double minimum wage for doing almost nothing. Lucky? No, his dad had pulled strings to get him the job. Good for him.

I also noticed that [Roomie] seemed to take every opportunity to waste money. He had the nicest leather couch I’d ever seen. Several designer sunglasses boxes lay around, each sporting a price tag of about $300. He said he just kept scratching them and needing new ones. He had a huge, artistic blown glass bong that he proudly said cost $750. The fridge was full of rotting takeout, yet every night he ordered more because he found leftovers unappetizing. He’d order enough for several people and stuff the extra in the fridge, never to be touched again until I threw it out for being too moldy.

Between his easy work, with not just great pay but many chances to work overtime shifts at double rate, and his constant squandering, he certainly didn’t seem like someone on the brink of homelessness.

But a week after I moved in, there was another eviction notice. And a week later, another.

I went to speak with the building manager myself to find out what was really going on. Turns out [Roomie] hadn’t paid a cent in months! She told me not to be afraid; if he got kicked out, I could keep staying, as she didn’t want the fuss of looking too hard for a new tenant. So, relieved of the anxiety that my own fate was at stake, I continued watching as merely a curious observer and slight friend.

I tried to gently encourage frugal choices. I suggested to [Roomie] that he might do the same when I was cooking up a big pot of stew and putting it in Tupperware for my week’s meals. When he’d announce he was ordering pizza, I’d suggest he eat last night’s. I even asked him directly if he wanted help planning a budget. But he just waved it all off, insisting that he would be fine.

The eviction notices kept coming about weekly. They stopped demanding that he pay back rent OR move out and started demanding that he be gone by a deadline. Starting a month before the deadline, the notices began to include threats that if he was not gone by then, his belongings would be moved out for him.

He kept telling me it was fine, he had a plan, he had things under control, and she didn’t mean any of it.

One day, I had just gotten to bed after a long shift when I heard a pitiful gasping, sniffling sound from the kitchen and then my name whimpered meekly. I ran out to find [Roomie] white as a sheet, doubled over as if gut-shot, holding himself up by clutching the counter. I could tell his denial had cracked and he finally was facing what a mess he’d made of his finances.

Hyperventilating, he gasped my name twice more, and then, right before he began to cry, he said, “She’s kicking me out! I never saw it coming!”

Never. Saw. It. Coming.

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