won't you please be my neighbor (and not my roommate)?
October 18, 2011 11:05 PM Subscribe
My elderly neighbor lived in my rented room before I moved in. He still uses the public areas of the house as his own. What are my obligations? Lots of snowflake details inside.
posted by dd42 to human relations (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I moved into a house with two craigslist roommates about three and a half weeks ago. Both men have been living in the house for a while. My predecessor in my room was a man I'll call G.
G. is the next-door neighbor. He's 78, walks with a limp, and has difficulty hearing, but he is mentally agile. This past January he had a fire in his house, where he broke his neck and was incapacitated for several months. The house lost power and water. My landlord let him use my room and have the run of the house for at least a few weeks before renting it to me.
The bad: G. has left the room, but he has not left the house. He cooks a hot breakfast every morning, taking up the kitchen for an hour or two. He often cooks dinner. He's not very clear at cleaning up his dishes from these meals - there is almost always a dirty frying pan on the stove. Twice he has had his girlfriend over in the evening, and they've had dinner and hung out for up to three hours.
Maybe I'm just testy, but some of his tics have annoyed me: he's asked me to drive him in his car to the local college football game (he has trouble walking from the parking lot to the stadium), he told me to compost my potato peels ("I don't know how you guys do it back in [midwestern state], but here in [coastal state]..."), he told me to lower the blinds during the day.
The good: G. has tried hard to be friendly. He owns an apartment building in a popular vacation destination near me, and he offered to take me there one day. Yesterday he apologized if I felt that he was getting in my way in the kitchen, saying that the landlord has been really generous to him and he would hate to inconvenience a tenant of his.
I feel like the boiling point came this evening. When I moved in, G. told me that the power would be back on in his house in about a week, so I was prepared just to wait it out. That time has come and gone, and now when I ask he gives me vague answers, saying his son is in charge of it. Tonight his girlfriend came over, and he made a point of asking me to come into the kitchen with him and her and have some cake. I feel like that this was meant to be a peace offering, but frankly I'm not interested in a peace offering that solidifies this relationship as it stands today. I refused, apologizing and saying that I was busy with work, but I felt like the bad guy.
I've asked the landlord if I can tell G. to leave. While he's fine with whatever I and the other guys in the house decide, he made it clear that he would prefer if he let G. use the house. When I asked my roommates, one says he really doesn't care and is happy to go along with whatever I decide, and the other (the landlord's son) was a little more tentative but said it would be fine if I told G. to use the house less.
Generally I would have no problems with telling him to go take care of his crap elsewhere, but I feel really bad being so cruel to an old man who's had some bad luck in the past year and who is trying to be friendly. On the other hand, I feel taken advantage of and it infuriates me.
What should I do? I'm not sure how I can balance my conscience and my frustration.