In case I did not describe this well enough in my earlier post, the guy from whom I rented the room, J___, is a control freak. When I was still living there, he would constantly try to tell me where to put and not put my belongings, warned me that I couldn’t have guests, and tended to perform all of these communications via text message. The even more confusing part, however, is that he would also make me food, have nice evening chats, and be generally pleasant in person.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was an incident where I left a few dishes to dry on a tea towel, went to the city, and received a text message about “needing to use the dishwasher” and “not leaving items in other people’s way on the counter.” Meanwhile, someone else’s rice cooker had sat on the counter for a week.
Coincidentally, the friend who had found me this apartment managed to find another apartment where—thankfully—I could live in peace by myself; so, although it would be more expensive and I would have to go through the hassle of moving yet again, I took it.
This is when the real fun began:
- I say I’m moving out. In the same note, I try to reduce money hassles by letting J___ keep the initial deposit as the last month’s rent. There is no formal contract or lease, and since I have only lived there for fewer than 3 months, this seems reasonable to me. He awakens me with a series of texts at 2 a.m. on Saturday night (technically Sunday morning, I suppose), informing me that if I want to stay living in the apartment, I need to “pay for the whole month” because “the deposit is not rent.”
- Less than a week later, J___ offers to lower my rent if I will stay living there. By this point, I have already signed the lease for the new apartment. I decline.
- J___ makes food and leaves me a portion. Twice.
- One Monday morning, he needs to drive to Hoboken to pick up something from his rabbi. He offers me a ride to work. I accept.
- I come home from work one night to find him watching Benny & Joon. I make dinner and finish watching the movie with him. Things seem pleasant in an almost normal “roommate” sort of way. I begin to seriously doubt whether moving out was the right decision.
- The evening of my move, he texts me, “You moved like a ninja!” I offer to return the keys the next day and also pick up shelving I left at the old apartment. He tells me not to rush and adds, “If you need anything, let me know.” I take him at his word. I should have known better.
Then, finally, what happened is this: last Thursday, my friend A___ was arriving in NYC to stay with me for a few nights. I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to go pick up those shelves; they are heavy, and he would be able to help me carry them back to my apartment. On my way home from work, I stopped by the old apartment in order to pick up my mail and to make sure I knew were the shelves were. Lo and behold, they were not where I had left them. Nor were they in the living room. Or the basement. At this point, I texted J___, asking, “Hey, where are the shelves?”
The response I received was staggering. It went something like, “You are not legally allowed to be in the apartment. You have no reason to be there. If you are there please leave. Your keys should have been left when you moved out. If someone came home they would have every right to call the police and say you broke in.” He told me I could come and get the shelves later, i.e. when he was at the apartment. So basically, the moment I moved out, I was deemed completely untrustworthy, demoted to the level of a trespasser, and expected to operate at his convenience. Thanks.
What’s even better is that once I replied that I was doing this because I wanted help carrying the shelves, he offered to drive them over to my new apartment. Then, when I suggested his giving me another roommate’s phone number so that I could do this transaction with them in case he wasn't around on Sunday (the "day of exchange"), he suddenly became available on Friday.
In the end, he did drive the shelves over to my new place—albeit during the day on Friday, while I was at work. And on Sunday, when I finally handed off the keys, we stood talking in front of my apartment about bikes and where to buy matzoth . . . as if he hadn't just practically threatened to have me arrested.
I might save zero money over the next year because of higher rent; I might get lonely from no one to talk to; I might even miss sharing belongings, particularly when I am lacking something and am either forced to go buy it or do without. But at least now, I won’t have to deal with someone trying to control my life. If I want someone to have control, I will give it to them!