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Jewish Journal

Product Placement

by  Merissa Nathan Gerson

February 21, 2010 | 5:47 pm

Ay Ay Ay! Some roommates require an emergency exit.

Dear Yenta,

I’ve noticed that my shampoo has been consumed at an alarmingly fast
rate since my roommate’s fiancée moved back into the house.
I wrote it off as my own paranoia about my toiletries, but I just got
home and saw him holding my shampoo in his hand as he was about to
wash his hair in the kitchen sink (entirely different issue, do you
answer plumbing questions too?). Anyway, I want to confront him about
it, but I don’t want to rock the boat too much. My roommate and he
are expected a baby (sometime this week), so they’re under a lot of
stress from that. Moreover, he does a bunch to fix things around the
house and keep it neat, since he doesn’t currently have a job, but
that doesn’t justify his using my shampoo. I also suspect that he is
responsible for throwing away two cans of my shaving cream. I like
nice body care products, so they’re not cheap to replace, especially
if I’m having to replace them with greater frequency. Do you have
any suggestions for how to fix this? I’m thinking about just moving
my toiletries out of the bathroom, but I feel that may be too
passive-aggressive.

Sincerely,

Receding Hair Product Line

Dear RHPL,

Again, this is an issue revolving around the simple establishment of boundaries. No, it is not ok to use people’s things without asking. And worse, if you are going to use someone’s things without asking and you finish them, the common law of housing says that you should buy the dude a new can of shaving cream or bottle of shampoo.

You sound like you are getting niceties confused. It is great that this guy is fixing your home, but like you said, his good deeds don’t just get to be traded out for bad deeds. It’s like saying because you always vacuum, you have a right to never doing your dishes. Unless this is some sort of household spoken or written agreement, there is no trading of chores for mooching.

I hear you wanting to tread softly, since the baby is a-coming, but I also think there is a difference between being polite and being a pushover. You have every right to gently ask that he buys his own hair products, kindly explaining that yours are important to you. Or, keeping them in your room works too. I don’t know that that is passive aggressive so much as proactive and self-protective.

Do what you need to do to clarify that your hygiene is serious business, and that you aren’t interested in sharing your supplies. You could say, “hey, could you replace my products when you finish them?” if you want to share, or, why not buy some shitty shampoo and give it to him with a smile? I doubt it will make anyone anxious enough for a premature delivery. Make a joke of it, whatever. Just remember that in your living space, no matter who is pregnant, or really, who is the impregnator, you have a right to your personal boundaries.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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With more than 10 years of talk therapy under her belt, Merissa has waded through life’s dilemmas with a constant reflective therapeutic bird on her shoulder. Add a few...

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