About a year ago I moved into an apartment with two other long-haired girls and we made a cleaning schedule to keep everything in order. A few months in, I started getting complaints that when it was my turn to clean the bathroom, I did not remove the hairs that accumulate on the drain. I explained that this was because none of those hairs are actually mine as we all have very different hair colors and I have always had the habit of picking up to throw away my hairs every time I shower. (I also think that they don't clean other things properly but have never said anything because worse than being complained to about petty things is complaining about them). I quickly realized that both roommates were very spoilt and continued to believe that I should clean up after them, so I decided to oblige to their requests and start clearing the drain. Using their toothbrushes.
I have recently shared this with my sister who told me it made her taste bile and that it is the most revolting thing she has ever heard and that I should stop immediately. I pointed out that not only was the situation completely avoidable for them, it is also harmless as I am only using their toothbrushes as instruments for the chore they wanted me to do so much. I want to continue doing it for as long as they leave their hairs behind after they shower. Is that okay?
Thatz. Not. O. Kay.
This sounds like the beginning of a blonde joke. A blonde, a redhead, and a brunette all move into an apartment together. One day the brunette turns out to be FUCKING INSANE and murders the other two for a perceived slight. Now no one wants to live in the apartment because two girls died there. It's super sad.
You know what is worse than voicing or receiving complaints about petty things? USING SOMEONE ELSE'S TOOTHBRUSH AS A CLEANING TOOL.
Why would the three of you establish a communal cleaning schedule if you were only going to clean up after yourselves? That would defeat the purpose of a chore wheel. It would be a chore circle, filled in with a single color, in the center of which would be written the only task: "Everybody clean up after yourself constantly and forever."
When you vacuum the living room, do you only trace over the exact footpath you take from your bedroom to the front door? When you water the lawn, do you only hit that patch of grass directly under your bedroom window?
Since the other women in the apartment complained that (prior to your psychotic stunt) you weren't removing the drain hair when it was your turn, we can only assume that they do perform this unpleasant task when it's their turn. And, when they do, they are—with a doubt—cleaning up some of your hairs as well since, even if you use tweezers and a magnifying glass to extricate only those strands that are your unique shade from the wet, filmy clump at the bottom of the drain, you cannot possibly get them all. (If you do invest the requisite time into this task, you are creating conservatively 10,000% more work for yourself than if you just threw out the big wad of hair in the first place.)
Your roommates have not entered into a situation that is, as you say, "completely avoidable for them" since, in order to consciously avoid something, you must be aware that it exists or is happening. You are creating a situation that is completely avoidable for them. (You could avoid cleaning out your dirty bathtub with their toothbrushes.) Further, the definition of "harmless" is not "capable of fulfilling a request by any means necessary." Perhaps you meant "ruthless?"
Stop thinking of yourself as a vessel through which cosmic justice is doled out. You are just a regular person and a below-average roommate.
If I believed you had simply experienced a momentary lapse in judgement, I would tell you to tell your roommates TODAY that you accidentally knocked their toothbrushes in the toilet while cleaning, and present them with the brand new toothbrushes you bought them TODAY to make up for it. (I would also tell you to stop bragging to people about your cool lifehack and expecting to find them receptive.)
However, since you have given no indication you are or were at any point in your life a rational human being fit to live with others, I advise you to confess what you've been doing to your roommates. Maybe, in the world you live in, where simple requests are met with exorbitant, perverse punishments, they will nod and tell you your solution—which you have been implementing, in secret, FOR MONTHS—was "tough but fair."
In the real world, I expect they realize that you are a Judge Judy case personified, and immediately pursue other living arrangements.
I recently turned 28, and whilst I wasn't all that fussed about it I've been upset by how little most of my family cared about the celebration of mine (& twin brother's) birth. My father drove for about 1 hr & 30 mins, to give me a birthday card, whilst I gave him his birthday present from April. Nevermind that my father spent several hours at my sister's place before getting to mine, and it also turns out he took my brother to a cricket match as his present. My sister has lost her present to me. My mother & grandmother texted me to say happy birthday, since we don't get on. I can deal with the mother & grandmother thing, but my Dad coming all that way to give me fuck all has pissed me off - he couldn't even be arsed to stick a note in there, and he isn't short of cash. That being said, I don't want to be childish and unreasonable. Expecting people to make a fuss of me on my birthday: Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
Since it would be borderline unconscionable for a human who had spent 28 years nailing down the patterns and rhythms of everyday life here on Earth to be this concerned with a lack of adequate B-Day fuss, I must acknowledge the possibility you mean you recently turned 28 in dog years (English setter?), which would make you about four. As a 4-year-old, it is perfectly understandable that you are upset about a lack of birthday presents. If you are not a 4-year-old, it is not reasonable.
Kids celebrate the inevitable passage of time because they have no agency. Emerging alive from yet another year is their greatest achievement. But there's nothing impressive about a fully developed adult successfully going another 365 days without choking on a Lego. Adults celebrate accomplishments.
Here's the golden rule of adult birthdays: You can make a fuss for milestone years if the new set of privileges you receive directly impacts your life. If you live in the U.S. and are a drinker, make a fuss for your 21st. If you need badly to rent a car but don't have the funds to cover an additional fee, make a fuss for your 25th. If you have been waiting your entire life to launch a presidential campaign, make a fuss for your 35th. Otherwise (and for all intervening birthdays), a casual party, a small dinner, or a phone call from your Nana (assuming you do not not-get-on with her) are all you can reasonably request. Anything above that—tribute in particular—is a bonus. (On that note, your family is obviously not the most on the ball with presents, seeing as you gave your father an April birthday present in June.)
The first hint that this matter is not worth getting upset over is the fact that "I recently turned 28" is the most boring possible opening for an anecdote—even worse than "I was on my way to the post office." There is no sentence that will be improved by tacking "I recently turned 28" onto the beginning of it. It wasn't even interesting when Benjamin Button turned 28. No one cares about people who are 28, as evidenced by your family's behavior.
That your father spent some time at your sister's house before coming to yours is immaterial, first because your birthday is not Ramadan and therefore does not dictate all activity between the hours of sunrise and sunset, and second because you weren't even happy to see him. As for the fact that your brother got to attend a cricket match and you didn't (would you have been satisfied with that as a present?), I suppose the only explanation for that is: You are the evil twin.
It was unbelievably kind of your dad to drive 90 minutes to visit you in person, since he was celebrating a special holiday himself: the 10 year anniversary of the day you ceased being his legal responsibility. (That's the thing about being an adult child: if you're terrible, your parents are no longer obligated to hang out with you.)
Doesn't it seem odd that your dad would make a 90 minute trip to give you, as you put it, "fuck all?" Almost as if he thought the time-consuming trip and his ensuing visit had some sort of intrinsic value? As if the present he was giving you wasn't just a shitty card, but something bigger, beyond the card?
No doubt it would have been easier for your dad to load the equivalent of the amount he ended up spending on gas onto an iTunes gift card and email it to you instead of coming, but perhaps he thinks if he gives you the special attention and skin-to-skin contact you evidently missed out on as a child, the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream might level off to that of a normal, high functioning adult. Before he has a chance to ruin your next birthday, you might dash off an email (subj: A Girl Only Turns 29 Once) to let him know you're too far adrift to be towed in now, but you would accept a modest monetary donation.
Before you do so, however, consider that if you're already on the outs with your mother and grandmother, you might not want to antagonize the only family member who still likes you enough to come give you a card. (While we're at it, let's admit the possibility that your terrible entitled behavior might be the source of some familial tensions.)
Instead of dwelling on the past (I assume the 27 years you have already experienced have been retroactively tainted by the setback that kicked off number 28), look to the future. One day you will be able to give your kids the 28th birthday you never had.
Thatz Not Okay is a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to email@example.com with the subject "Thatz Not Okay." Image by Jim Cooke. Photo via Shutterstock.