Dirty people and The Horror

My sister was commenting me yesterday the problems she's having with her new flatmate, and while I was kind of amazed, the situation wasn't new - it all sounded too familiar to my ears:

  • Shared flat
  • A woman who doesn't care
  • and also borrows without asking (steals)
  • Dirt
  • Insects
  • ...
  • Anger!!
Why people behave that way is something which escapes my understanding. I have been thinking about it quite a lot -specially when I had to fight against one of those people-, trying to find a reason which explains what brings someone to act in a way that not only generates dirt but it's also the most disgusting dirt ever.

Dracula's Castle

In my case I had two separate chapters of these "Human Misery" examples. First was when I moved to Dracula's Castle, a shared flat with three more women. It was the first time I was with more than one flat mate so I was quite excited about it, hoping it would be fun (specially because if it's just one flat mate and she's very busy you can't talk with anyone else, but with three people it looked different). But it turned to be quite a different thing... When I first visited the flat it looked normal, in the students flat style, with horrible furniture, decayed wall paint, etc, but quite near a green area and my university, and it was also in the same street that I had been the year before.

That day there were some people in the flat, all the windows were open and there was light and pure air inside it. The night I moved in, it was the day before an exam, and it was quite a different story. I opened the door and was slapped in the face with a mix of tobacco and hot, closed air. Seems like there hadn't been anyone for some weeks. I then opened the balcony door to allow some fresh air to enter and to be able to breath, and went to the kitchen to leave the little food I had brought. And that, that was The Horror.

I switched on the light and had to wait for some good 15 seconds until the tube stabilised (seems like the condenser wasn't really in good shape). Then I started noting things... There was a thick layer of grease on the cupboard over the extractor hood, as if they had been frying fish during days non stop. But it wasn't the real problem; there were hundreds of insects stuck in the grease, as if it was an insect trap. I opened one cupboard looking for an empty one and found all sorts of things which had went off. There were flour and sugar, both with new friends inside, camomille and more teas whose bags were almost disintegrating, several tins which had survived their best-before-date and were almost going to explode, etc.

Actually the whole flat was seriously dirty, not only the kitchen. My room was quite small; even though, I had to clean it three times until the water stopped looking like black ink. So that's why I called that flat Dracula's castle. And there's lots more stories about that one but I won't write them now (maybe I should write a book instead).

The executive wannabe

My second big confrontation with The Horror came some years later. I rented a new flat and looked for people to share it with me. It was good the first year but the second was disastrous. Beginning with two antisocial sisters with a ridiculous dog which used to pee everytime the doorbell sounded, and continuing with a woman who was a complete nightmare for me. I must confess I've forgotten her name. I had her phone number in my mobile for some months with the name "Witch" or something like that - to not to pick it whenever she called threatening me. So yes, let's call her W.

The condition for entering the flat was that everybody had to be an student. That was a way of just having people with similar interests and way of life, and looked quite logical to me. W promised that she was studying Economics, but was also working to pay her studies. She lied blatantly. In fact she was working in the night shift in a call center for a mobile telecom company (or that she said, I still have my doubts) and pretending, or aspiring, to be a high executive, thus trying to dress accordingly, with supposedly stylish elegant clothes, and spoke, or tried to, with a posh accent. But she spoke like a snake, with an annoying sibilance even if she was not whispering. She also hardly ate anything and was terribly skinny, thanks to a diet which consisted only in oat flakes with pure coffee and smoking, lots of smoking.

I didn't know any of these facts (apart from the sibilance, but I didn't want to judge anyone just because of the way they speak). I gave her the keys and left Valencia for holidays. So she spent a good month and a half alone in the flat (the sisters were away in their far away town). And when I finally appeared there, on 1st september, I got absolutely shocked.

What once was a (relatively) lovely flat with well cared plants, clean air and general good appearance, had turned into a complete chaos. Again, there was a layer of dirt over everything. This time, there were even cigarette butts on the floor. Like if she had been smoking and just decided to drop them there, without looking for an ashtray. Who needs them anyway? And there was a horrible smell all around the place, a mix of tobacco and personal odour. Very disgusting. The living room was depressing. The plants looked thirsty and extenuated, there were lots of "Woman" magazines spread all around the soffas - that seemed to be her daily read. I went outside and discovered one of my towels being used as a tablecloth for the table which was in the balcony. My anger started to unravel... I went to the kitchen and found my coffee makers completely burnt, as if she had left the coffee boiling for hours in them, and even more, there were some unidentified living elements inside them. And she also had used all my cups and consumed my oil, salt, sugar...!

On the bathroom, she had used my mouthwash, and also had left more butts over the sink. The best of all was when I discovered that she had moved one table which was in the room of one of the sisters and had put it on the balcony of my room. She also took the opportunity to investigate all of my drawers and take whatever she felt was OK to take. Fortunately I didn't left anything valuable there but it was absolutely disgusting to have my personal space violated in that way.

When we started the university again, she used to come back from work at 2am or later, and woke all of us up with her noises while she prepared her specialty: coffee with oat flakes. Obviously, and specially after she negated all the facts, I decided I was going to kick her out, we couldn't live with someone like that. The coward sisters and the even more coward landlord ("I'm ok as long as she pays") didn't do anything to force her out, so that's why she thought it was just me against her, and called me menacingly later. I can assure you it was a horrible experience.