Continuing on with last weeks’ tales-
Last Monday was quite eventful. We awoke to the sound of the phone ringing. We had applied with an agency that finds temporary homes for Korean students who have come to the Country to learn English. The call was from one of the agents asking us if we could take a student in that evening! The student had to leave the dormitory that he had been staying in and needed to find a new home fast.
We had met one student the week before who was looking to change where he was living, but he opted not to stay at another home. Meeting the first student had given us the impression that we would meet all new students prior to their moving in with us, so we were surprised by the phone call we received Monday morning.
We told the agent that we’d meet with the student when he came over after his classes and that he could stay with us for that night since he had no where else to go. We weren’t about to commit to taking him in for a full month without having at least met him first.
We weren’t quite ready to have a student stay in our home. The room we planned to let a student stay in has the biggest closet in the house. We have an older 1927 house- which basically means- small rooms and almost no closet space. It’s cozy though. So we spent a good portion of the day moving items out of the closet and into our other spare room. We also went out to get some groceries and had to drop off some important papers. If you have been reading over the past week, you might realize that it was while I was dropping off those papers that I encountered the lady who sucked her teeth behind me for 15 long minutes and almost brought about her own death as a result! Yes, last Monday was fun.
The student arrived at about 5:30 that evening. He was a quiet, polite, 22 year old. We sat down and talked with him for a little while and showed him what was to be his room for at least that night, and the rest of the house. By the time we had finished the tour we had pretty much decided that he seemed nice enough to allow him to stay for the whole month.
This of course is the semi-life changing event I was referring to in my last post. I am not used to sharing my home with others and I enjoy my privacy. However, since I am off work due to illness we’ve been forced to become creative and do what we need to do to keep the bills paid and a roof over our heads.
The only other time that I’ve had “room-mates”, other than living with my husband before we were married (but that’s very different!), was back when I had first started my jewelery business. I was 21 at the time and had set some large goals for myself.
I was living in a very small junior one bedroom apartment. After buying all the equipment that I needed to start my diamond cutting business I had little cash left, and very little coming in. I worked not only for myself but for three other companies during that first year. During the weekdays I ran my business, and on some evenings I worked as a security guard at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, and I also worked in a jewelery store in the suburbs over the weekend. I eventually dropped one of the extra jobs and took on another within the building I had my business in, grading emeralds and sapphires for a gem dealer.
Even with all the work I was doing I was still broke. It takes a lot of money to start up a business and some time to build a good customer base. Not only that- I had to learn how to use my diamond cutting machine and maintain it first before I could really start to build my company. I was buying toilet paper with credit cards, and frankly I think that’s pretty sad.
I came up with a plan to gain some extra income and over the course of the next two years I had room-mates in my tiny apartment. I gave them my living room. We’d share the room of course in the evenings, watching T.V. together but it really was their bedroom. I provided them with a pullout futon to sleep on.
I had three room-mates in all.
Two of them lasted approximately a year each, and I got along with them fairly well, although I found their personalities to be very different from my own. The first was a 25 year old that acted like a 60 year old, and the second was a 20 year old that was learning how to live without Mom and Dad’s help- which means she was a handful. I fell in between personality wise. I was young, 21 to 23 during the time period that I had room-mates, so I wanted to have fun and be friendly and go out and party a little, but I also had my own business and a lot of responsibilities.
My last room-mate only lasted 3 days! She seemed very nice when I interviewed her and showed her the apartment, and I thought she might be suitable. I told her I’d call her and let her know if she could move in. A few hours after our initial meeting she called me and told me she had to leave the place she was staying that night. I agreed that she could move in and she asked me to come to her home and help her move.
Perhaps that should have been the first sign that things weren’t going to go well.
I traveled across the city by streetcar- getting felt up along the way by a man who insisted on putting his hand on my thigh several times until I finally told him off and stood up for the rest of the trip. I never did see the room that “Angela” had been living in as she met me on a corner with two garbage bags of belongings. I’m sure this was the second sign that I was making a mistake. We made our way back to my apartment and spent the evening sitting up talking and getting to know one another.
I had to go to my office the next day. I shared my office space with my sister who is also a jeweller and still works in the trade. Angela insisted on coming to the office with me and watching me work. Odd, but ok, we’re getting to know one another, maybe it’s ok. She followed me everywhere and stared at me intently as I tried to work.
When we arrived back at the apartment that evening I wanted some space to myself and went into my bedroom to relax. She wasn’t ready to leave me alone. She followed me in and kept talking to me. When I went to the bathroom she’d try to follow me in. I actually had to tell her that she couldn’t come into the bathroom with me. She didn’t understand the need for even the tiniest bit of privacy and stood outside the door attempting to talk with me. The rest of the evening continued like that. Everywhere I went she was within 2 feet of me. I was starting to vibrate with agitation.
The following day was a Friday I believe. Again she insisted on coming to work with me. I couldn’t get rid of her. By the time I got to my office my sister took one look at me, and then at Angela who was following me like a faithful puppy, and she put two and two together and knew I had a big problem. When Angela left to use the washroom my sister and I talked and came up with a plan.
I needed my sisters help. I was far to nice back then and probably still am. I had a lot of trouble telling people that made me upset where to go. I don’t have quite as much trouble with it these days. Have you ever met a meek nurse? No I didn’t think so. I was definitely a push over in those days. Most of you reading this- if you’ve gotten this far that is- would probably have either kicked Angela out by now, or at least told her off. Not me … somehow I’d even let her cut my hair and I now sported a lovely, and oh so very attractive “bowl” cut. I was furious on the inside, yet unable to let it out. I was also butt ugly with my chopped up bowl shaped hair thanks to Angela.
When we left the office at the end of the day my sister accompanied us. We went back to the apartment and then went out to a local bar for some food and drinks. It was there that my sister and I planned to tell Angela she had to leave. We weren’t all that successful. We told her that her behavior was inappropriate and that it was making it difficult for me to live with her and that her following me to my office was not allowing me to concentrate on my work. We tried our best to reason with her and ended by telling her that she had to leave that night. She cried and got upset and said she had no where to go. My sister is also a nice person and the dilemma of Angela having no where else to go got to us.
Somehow- after downing over 40 test tube shooters between the three of us- we staggered back to the apartment. Angela seemed to have decided that she was going to be allowed to stay. By this time I was very angry and I couldn’t stand to have her in my apartment for one minute longer. I blew up. I’m sure the alcohol that I had consumed loosened my inhibitions regarding speaking my mind. I was in a rage and I told her so. She eventually told us that she did have another place she could go and asked if she could stay until morning. My sister and I agreed that she could, and we saw her out in the morning.
As you can see my last room-mate experience was a nightmare and here I am taking in yet another room-mate many year later. Surely you can understand my hesitation over the whole matter? I can look back at my experience with Angela and laugh about it now, and of course realize that I could have and should have handled the whole situation better. It was a horrid three days though!
So far everything is going well with our new Korean room-mate. A few small problems or complaints have cropped up but so far so good. I will tell you more about him in my next post.
Speaking of roomies? Have you visited Chatty at “Whatchu Tawkin Bout” yet?