I want it that way


By Emma Goodwin

I never thought I would reach the day when I would be forced to become a practicing grown-up. I know how to pay bills, I know how to prepare for and dominate interviews, and I know all the steps to practice if I want to be seen as a fully functioning a-d-u-l-t (I spelled this out because the word is still kind of scary to say when I’m talking about myself).

As a person who used to say everything was fine in every circumstance, I was always willing to forgive lapses in service. In restaurants, stores, apartments and even with friends, I chose the polite, suffering route because I didn’t like making people go through the trouble of doing extra work for me (even when it should have been done in the first place). 

Plus, I never thought I would have to put my grown-up skills into practice and prove a level of assertion substantial enough to move mountains and get my way. 

My passivity toward things going wrong was tested — and soon broken — on move-in day this year. My roommate, Molly, walked into her room, noticed the sopping wet carpet and proceeded to ask the rest of us if we thought that her carpet was just sudsy from being cleaned.

We did.

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    That is until we noticed the leak from our ceiling vent, seeping through the walls and causing mold and mildew to grow in her carpet — very much the opposite of clean and sudsy.

    After being told by maintenance to have a fan going 24/7, obviously racking up our energy bill, I channeled my inner mom with a voice that meant business, and I called our leaser, telling them that moving into a clearly uninspected apartment that hadn’t been cleaned of mold and mildew was unacceptable, especially with no warning. And now we were literally going to pay for their mistakes.

    I got a well-deserved $400 rent credit for our first month that I never would have gotten had I just went with the flow — the flow being the water coming from our ceiling, of course.

    All of us need to have a bit of the great debater and great communicator within ourselves to get the things that we need out of life — and to make sure that we aren’t living in a room with a moldy carpet.

    My forgiveness threshold was tested weeks later, too. After three days, five calls, and every troubleshooting strategy imaginable, our Wi-Fi was still non-existent. With one Ethernet cord to split amongst four inhabitants, three of us shouted expletives at a useless modem.

    After my first victory with the leaser, I called our Internet provider. I turned on my professional mom voice again, ready with words and phrases I had used about the carpet, and I talked my way into getting a $30 credit — more than a third of our bill.

    With a carpet that could be used as a kiddy pool one week and looming Moodle deadlines and no LTE data left on my cell plan the next, I was pretty peeved (in PG terms.) 

    But these things would have been forgivable for me months earlier. 

    Leak in the ceiling? Put a bucket under it and lay down towels. Internet not working? Go to the Ike. Is your hamburger you wanted well-done bleeding on the inside? Ask your mom for a bite of her pasta and eat your fries. I was okay having my experiences ruined, but not anymore. 

    It’s dumb to mosey around difficult problems in life because we’re afraid to hurt people’s feelings when, really, we should take charge.

    Inconveniencing people in any setting or making them feel like they did something wrong made me feel terrible, even if I was extremely polite. 

    Getting your way is about tone and about talking to the right people, but if you’ve made a third or fourth call to customer service and find yourself paying $100 for broken Wi-Fi, you need to be prepared to dole out tough love.

    The problems my roommates and I experienced evolved from just needing to be fixed to being professionally unacceptable. We deserved better. We all deserve better. These problems in my apartment should have been taken care of, and I wasn’t a bad person for demanding that. I could be convenient and miserable, or I could be assertive and happy (and healthy. Seriously. Mold?) 

    Sometimes situations demand your most assertive self, and when that time comes, you better make sure that the person you are dealing with is ready to step up to the occasion.

    We have to strap on our big-kid pants and stop moseying around. Get big ol’ rent and Internet credits and don’t feel bad about it. Send your incorrect entree back, and be assertive for yourself. This is a skill we’re going to need for the rest of our lives, and we might as well start practicing now.

    Emma is a sophomore in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].