You know when you’re in a terrible situation and you feel like there’s no escaping it? You’d probably head home to mull over your options in peace. But what if your home was the center of your dilemma? Let me tell you about my first-world roommate problems.
I live a privileged life, but I need your help. I don’t know what to do.
The first sign of trouble came on the morning of January 24. I was away at a work conference, and I woke up to a text message from one of my two roommates — let’s call her Rachel — to tell me that her bunny had died.
The bunny was fat and looked old, so I didn’t think much of it, figuring he keeled over and died in the middle of the night or something.
That’s not what happened.
When I came back from the trip that Saturday, Rachel’s boyfriend and my second roommate — let’s call him Mario — told me what went down while I was gone.
According to Mario, he dropped his cell phone between the couch cushions. While lifting the couch, the bunny accidentally got under it, and down came the couch.
Later that Saturday, Mario texted me that he had kicked Rachel out of the apartment and that she was “crazy." Three days later, Rachel returned. Two weeks later, a new bunny appeared.
Whatever. Five months pass.
My best friend and I had been living in this two-bed, two-bath high-rise for about a year and a half. We had a balcony with a panoramic view of downtown and the mountains. We even had a fireplace. Life was (and still is) pretty grand.
My roommate, though, got a job out of town. We decided to sublease to a Craigslist couple after meeting them and showing them around. It was a seven-month sublease, and I was saving a couple thousand bucks by having a couple move in.
What could go wrong?
It didn’t start to get bad until April. I knew from day one that Mario and Rachel liked their weed, and I asked them to smoke on the balcony. In February and March, I saw them smoking inside a few times. I asked them to stop a few times. They agreed each time. Things were pretty okay; we each kind of did our own thing.
But by April, the indoor pot smoking didn’t stop, and my patience was starting to wear thin. My wardrobe smelled of weed, and I woke up to the smell of pot more mornings than not. Sure, maybe I’m a bit too straight-edge for a Denver high-rise, but I was starting to get annoyed.
In early April, after whiffing another indoor pot session, I had a sterner conversation with Mario, threatening to bring the management into it if it kept up, since smoking inside is banned. I thought the issue was settled.
Sure enough, in late April, I returned home from a lengthy trip. The smoke was visible, and it reeked all over. I called the management, who came up and issued a verbal warning. I issued some of my own. I thought the issue was settled.
Two days later, it smelled like weed again. I called the management. They issued a written warning, threatening to throw everyone out if it kept up. Rachel admitted to smoking inside. I thought the issue was settled.
A week later — we’re in early May, for those of you scoring at home — it smelled of pot again. The property manager came up and said it smelled like pot, blaming some coils for holding the smell from before. As such, he couldn’t take any action against the roommates. I disagreed and asked for a different person to verify the smell. He said no one else was available. He went into the couple’s room, and it smelled like a Boulder dorm room. The property manager said the strong smell was due to rabbit grass and spent the next ten minutes telling me how he’d never done a single drug in his life and how he grew up with rabbits.
There’s other crap — literally. Bunny 2.0’s poop is all over the apartment. Open food is everywhere. Tobacco is all over the floor and the tables.
If you think this is a whiny story about a couple of crappy roommates and lazy property managers, I hear you. Hang on.
After Rabbit Grass Day, Rachel sent me a series of threatening texts, ending with “everyday will really not be pleasant for you Chris. The longer you keep living here.” I forwarded the texts to the property management. They told me to contact the police if I felt threatened.
Tensions began to visibly grow between Mario and Rachel. Mario abruptly told me Rachel had a history of violent behavior and had been diagnosed with a mental disorder, and that she was starting to use harder drugs. In mid-May, they got into an argument, and she punched a hole through one of the walls in the apartment. The property manager fixed the drywall a few days later.
I contacted the City of Denver’s new roommate mediation service, hoping to put more formal pressure on both the roommates and the property management to help me out. After speaking with the mediation service once and being promised a mediation session, I never heard back after multiple tries.
I tried the non-emergency police line. I left a message, and I never heard back.
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I wrote the apartment complex asking if I could be let out of my lease a month early, fearing for my own safety. They said they would if all three parties consented and if I got a restraining order. Mario tried to get Rachel to sign the document. She burned it in the fireplace. The property wouldn’t let me out.
Frustrated and frankly unsure about how to handle my first-world problem, I started writing this.
I’m open to any solutions you’ve got, readers — including telling me to stop being a whiny straight-edge and just move out already.
What would you do, if you were in my shoes?