The Non-Expert


Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we show a reader how to get even the most troublesome of roommates to move out.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: How do I tactfully ask my bum-of-a-roommate to move out? We live in a campus apartment, so it’s not like I hold a lease that I can kick her off of. She clogs the toilet, doesn’t wash our communal dishes well, and is just generally a pest. Society tells me not to be a blunt jerk, but I really want to tell the girl to buzz off. Your thoughts? —Leah in Oregon

Answer: Clogging the toilet, skipping dirty dishes, and generally being a pest are awful traits, but your roommate is a lot worse than you think. Let’s have a look at all her bad habits, and then we’ll explain how you can get her to vacate the premises for good.

She uses up all the hot water.

Your roommate was out late last night with friends—and of course she woke you up with whatever she was doing in the kitchen at three in the morning. And now her alarm has gone off three times. The first two she silenced with her snooze bar, but on the third she simply turned it off and kept sleeping. Finally her innate sense of knowing when she needs to get up in order to beat you to the bathroom kicks in. She gets out of bed and trudges to the bathroom.

Groggy and still a little drunk, she switches on the light, reaches into the tub, and flips on the hot water—all the way hot so she can turn it down slightly for a nice, toasty shower. She sits down on the toilet with the magazine she stole from your room, opens it to a random article, and promptly falls asleep.

She wakes up when the piping hot water, now overflowing from the tub, hits her bare feet. Jumping up, she drops your magazine into the pooling water on the bathroom floor, and reaches into the tub and shuts off the water. She finishes using the toilet and waits for the piping hot water to drain from the tub. Then she turns on the hot water again and steps into the shower.

She leaves bits of toothpaste in the sink.

After drying off she puts on her robe, opens the medicine cabinet, and reaches for her toothbrush. But—her vision not yet back to normal—she accidentally knocks it off the shelf and into the toilet. She grumbles something incomprehensible, then looks in the medicine cabinet and grabs your toothbrush instead. Then, using the last of the toothpaste, she brushes her teeth.

She spits into the sink, but doesn’t bother to make sure the remaining bits of toothpaste are washed down the drain.

She clogs the toilet.

She flushes the toilet and leaves—without remembering where her toothbrush went.

She doesn’t wash the communal dishes well.

She closes the bathroom door behind her and looks into the hall to see that your door is still shut, your light still off. She steps into the kitchen and surveys the sink of dirty dishes from last night when, in a hungry, drunken stupor, she microwaved and ate your leftover Pad Thai and all your mini frozen pizzas. Well, mostly ate them, anyway. There are still some noodles and bits of pepperoni baked onto the dishes and silverware.

“Gross,” she mumbles, then turns around and opens the pantry.

She eats all your groceries.

You love your cereal, and so does she. She reaches into the pantry, gets out your box of Cheerios, and pours herself a big bowl. On Monday you bought milk and orange juice. She takes both out of the fridge, gets the last clean glass out of the cupboard, fills it with juice, then adds milk to her cereal. She then takes the carton of milk and the box of orange juice and, edging some of the dirty dishes out of the way, fills each carton with water from the tap so they appear to be at their former levels.

She puts them back in the fridge, grabs a spoon out of the drawer, and goes into the living room.

She clips her toenails on the coffee table.

Your roommate sits down on the couch, puts her cereal and juice on the coffee table, and turns on the TV. After eating half of her cereal, she sets the bowl down on the table, takes a sip of juice, and decides she doesn’t like the new brand you bought. She then reaches into the pocket of her robe and pulls out a pair of toenail clippers. Propping her feet on the edge of the coffee table, she begins clipping her toenails, piling the clippings into a neat stack in the middle of the table. As usual, once she’s done she’ll then take the clippings and toss them under the couch. But just as she’s finishing up, she glances at the TV and sees that iPod commercial with the song she likes. She grabs the remote and turns up the volume—LOUD.

You leap out of bed and throw open your door. The rush of air sweeps over the coffee table and blows her pile of toenail clippings straight into her bowl of cereal.

She is just generally a pest.

She glares at you. “You jerk! You just totally ruined my breakfast!”

You smile, and say nothing. But you think about the night before, when you were searching all over the house for your magazine (where could it be?), and you looked under the couch and found her piles of toenail clippings, which you then sprinkled into the Cheerios box. You opened the fridge and poured some orange juice into the milk and some milk into the orange juice. You went into the bathroom and scrubbed out the toilet using your own toothbrush as well as hers, knowing you keep your spare in your backpack. Finally, you stuffed a washcloth (one of hers, of course) down the drain in the tub.

Repeat daily until she demands you let her move out.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack