Column: Dishes: catalyst for controversy

By Brian Mellen

Dishes – the subject of many a shouting battle between roommates. Anyone who’s lived in an apartment and likes things clean knows my pain. They understand the turmoil, the death, and the destruction dishes cause. They dream of a better tomorrow when one day everyone takes care of their own dishes.

Maybe I’m slightly exaggerating, but getting roommates to put their plates in the dishwasher after eating can be a painstaking process. Even getting roommates to clean after themselves in general can be a chore.

Now before I go on it’s important to note that it’s difficult to get me angry. Aside from a couple of girl troubles throughout the years, the few times people experienced my furious wrath while in college involved a wide assortment of problems of the utmost concern. One time specifically, while I was hanging out with friends back home in the wilderness of Washington State, we built one of our traditional fires next to a river. Needless to say the fire was short-lived as we were bombarded by water balloons. Yes, colorful pieces of rubber filled with H2O. Stop laughing. They hurt.

I’ll agree that I’ve gotten upset over petty issues in the past like with water balloons. But the times I’ve gotten into shouting matches with people over dishwashing and cleaning were justified. There’s only so much a person is willing to clean up after people before they lose their patience.

Last Sunday night I came home from visiting relatives in both Joliet and Batavia for Easter. I opened my apartment door to find three little bundles of joy sitting on the floor in plastic trash bags. An intoxicating aroma exuded from my newfound gifts that smelled like a blend of rotting milk and meat, not to mention the kitchen sink was piled high with dishes.

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    Because I don’t want to live in a pig-sty and have a standard of living, I gave in. I cleaned up the mess. I cleaned it up even though the mess wasn’t mine and even though out of all my roommates over the weekend I was the one who was home the least. And later I had a little chat with all three of my roommates.

    College students are some of the busiest people. Just balancing your time to get through school is enough to drive someone crazy. To top it off, many of us have jobs. And of course cleaning is one of our least favorite activities. Because we are all busy it’s pointless and futile to compare who is busier. So saying “I was busy so I couldn’t clean up” is not a plausible excuse. Also, sacrificing cleanliness simply because you think that “the mess isn’t mine” and you are so stubborn you wait for the person responsible to take care of it only serves to make matters worse. If I had the same mentality Sunday night those trash bags and the mess in my sink might have still been there.

    The real excuse is there is no excuse. When people don’t clean it’s because they are being lazy, stubborn and don’t mind being slobs for the time being. That’s okay if you live by yourself, but when you live with other people it’s inconsiderate to the other people in your apartment who many times end up cleaning mess that’s not theirs.

    I can’t stand for laziness in regards to cleaning and neither should anyone reading who feels the same way. When people leave messes it’s a slap to face when they wait for someone else to take care of it. It sends the message “my time’s more valuable than yours” and it’s self-centered.

    There’s a saying, “business as usual,” that’s been used in describing crooked Illinois politics. Former governor of Illinois George Ryan was recently convicted on corruption charges shaking the very foundation of the above statement. Now if only I knew a way to hold sluggish people accountable for cleaning up their mess and stop their “laziness as usual.” Suggestions?

    Brian Mellen is junior in Communications. Don’t throw water balloons at him or he might get angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected].