• Sam Box

Roommate Roulette

By Stephen McGurk

Ah the seasonal apartment hunt. What a joyous experience, desperately trying to find several square inches to park yourself and your plethora of belongings for 6 months. And that doesn’t even factor in the high probability of getting stuck sharing with at best, a socially inept weirdo; at worst a knife wielding psychopath.

Which brings me onto the subject of this article. In a bid to avoid such a calamitous situation, I decided to jump the gun, put all of my hard earned cash down on an apartment for two and recruit a room mate myself. So a string of prospective room-mates manoeuvered themselves along the narrow hallway of the studio to view my tiny palace. My ‘room’ was semi-partitioned, but the lucky winner would be sleeping on a pull-out sofa in the middle of the living space. Perfect if you didn’t want any privacy whatsoever.

The bathroom was ancient, and the kitchenette had the benefit of being so small that you could stand anywhere in the room and still prepare a meal. The only real highlight of the gaff was the ranging balcony with spectacular views of the bins. This was my main selling point. “Yeah the apartment is for all intents and purposes a cupboard, but you can spend your day lounging on this beautiful balcony”, (“soaking up the sweet smell of trash”- I didn’t add).

The first person to view the studio was a Spanish girl who very politely, but

immediately, turned it down. An English guy dropped by, drank three cups of coffee, destroyed the toilet and left. And then along came Pierre, who fell firmly into the latter category of aforementioned bad roommate scenarios.

Pierre arrived on a Friday. From his incessant phone calls and messages prior to

his arrival I knew it wasn’t going to work. The timbre of his voice sounded way

older and I could tell he was nowhere near chilled enough. He rang me at least ten times during the week to make sure he could come and see the apartment. He hadn’t arrived in resort yet but he was adament he would take the bed for the season. Even after all these set-up phone calls he chose the much-maligned surprise arrival technique; turning up out of the blue, at midnight with luggage and skis in tow. He entered; flung his orange ski-jacket across the studio to reveal a full-set of body armour underneath, then prior to introductions he began ranting about the size of the studio. Don’t get me wrong, I was aware the place was a shit-hole, but by-Christ it was my shit-hole.

“Ok” I thought, “Cya later”. But as it happened, Pierre, had nowhere else to go and demanded in his strong Eastern European accent to stay the


Call it a gut reaction, but I didn’t particularly like this guy. Being perfectly honest, he terrified me. But I’m not one to throw someone out into the snow at midnight. I’m Irish – we’re better than that.

“You want sandwich?” Pierre asked.

“No thanks man, I’ve just eaten.” I lied.

Pierre dug into his duffle bag. He pulled out a huge hunk of meat and a crust of

bread, clicked open a 6-inch blade, cut off a piece of rancid meat, ripped off some bread and chowed down while spewing crumbs all over the carpet.

In a state of panic, I took a kitchen-knife to bed that night and slept with it under my pillow. It was probably the first time I’ve been genuinely scared for my life.

After barely an hour’s sleep, my alarm went off and I burst out of bed making as

much racket as possible to try and wake Pierre.

“Good night’s sleep Pierre?” I hollered.

“Yis, yis, very good”. Good for you pal, good for you. I stood in the kitchenette eating cereal when Pierre crawled out of bed and started doing his morning stretches. Unfortunately, I remember this image vividly- he wore a mid-length yellow T-shirt...but nothing else. And there they were. His pert buttocks flexed in front of me, burning into my retinas as I choked on a mouthful of Coco-Pops.

“C’mon Pierre! Put some pants on man”.

Call me unreasonable, but I am of the opinion that it is never, EVER acceptable to do stretches barely clothed in front of a complete stranger. There’s certainly no chance this maniac was staying for the rest of the season. I frogmarched him out the door at 8.18am so I could catch first lifts– and told him about a nearby hostel.

A day of snowboarding took my mind off the horrific sleepless night I’d had and by the time I got off the hill I’d almost completely forgotten about Pierre and his mentally scarring stretches. But I was in for a rude awakening. When I got back to the apartment that evening, there was my unwelcome squatter.

“I think I join”, he said.

“What’s that?”

“You. I join you here.”

“What? Oh, eh, no, no!”

“I join”, he repeated.

He pulled out a grand in cash and tried to force it into my hand. Now that’s a very

tempting offer for a lad who’s just spent an arm, a leg and then some an apartment smaller than most club toilet. But hell-no was I going to let this maniac ruin my first eason with his prehistoric eating habits and even more bizarre views on what was socially acceptable.

Instead, I insisted on helping Pierre with his bags to the nearest hostel. He confirmed that I’d made the right decision by unnervingly walking three paces behind me the whole time. As soon as he was through the doors, I yelped with joy and pent up relief at not having been murdered in my sleep and skipped home to my haven of safety.

So take care when choosing your room-mates. They might put you off your breakfast.

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