I accept that the events that unfold in this story are wholly and undeniably my fault, just as a person who sticks his or her hand into a running wood chipper should expect to pull out a bloody stump.
As I posted my advert for a roommate on Craiglist every cheesy 80’s Single White Female-genre movie flashed through my head. I knew better, but I was in a semi-desperate situation and though my gut screamed,
Don’t do it!
Faulty logic bullied it’s way through and said,
Come on, that kinda bullshit only happens in movies.
At the time, I was in training for a very intensive school that forced me to make the hard decision of sending my daughter across the country to live with her father. I knew that I would need to get a roommate to help cover the costs of rent so I tried using various websites and also posted ads in bulletin boards around town,
but no one really bit.
Despite all of the warnings that I had received through watching Lifetime Network B-Movies, as a last resort, I decided to use Craigslist.
Within a couple of days, a few women messaged their interest and I met with them at the local Starbucks. Some of them seemed nice enough, if not a little on the weirder side. Eventually, I met with Renee*.
She showed up to meet me in her scrubs prior to heading to work as a nurse at a Cardiologists clinic. She had recently moved back from Los Angeles and was fairly new to the area.
At the time, we hit it off. She was nice and seemed to have the same interests as me. I told her I would contact her once I had verified her references.
After calling the clinic where she worked and confirming her employment, I contacted her and offered her the extra room.
For the first couple of months things seemed to go pretty smoothly. We both worked during the daytime, though she kinda kept to herself and was glued to her cellphone, she seemed pretty normal.
However, like some kind of karmic cautionary tale written especially for me, within a span of 1 month, things gradually spiraled into Twilight Zone territory.
The first time I really noticed something was wrong began with small amounts of cash randomly disappearing from my wallet. I suspected that she might be responsible so I devised a plan. I would count the cash in my wallet and then leave a note of how much was in it to compare later.
Around the same period, conversations with her started to become stranger and stranger. One day she confided in me that she wanted to start going back to church but felt that whenever she tried to be closer to God, demons pulled her away.
She mentioned casually that she fought daily with these demons that had led her to stray “from the light”. After that revelation, I started locking my bedroom door at night.
A couple days later, I happened to walk by her room and noticed a pair of underwear laying on the floor. Nothing of course was extraordinary about that, except that I had never noticed just how bare her room was before.
I didn’t really give much thought to that at first. Instead I focused on the fact that:
“Oh! I have a pair just like that, she’s got good taste”.
Soon enough though, I started to notice that my underwear also seemed to be going missing. At that point a memory of the panties on her floor flashed through my brain:
“Noooooo…….It can’t be, this bitch cannot actually be stealing my panties?!”
Of course, confronting her was out of the question! How the hell would you even broach something like that to someone?
“So…..I don’t suppose you have been “borrowing” my panties? Oh, okay didn’t think so, just checking.”
I pushed the disgusting thought out of my mind. A couple of days later I counted out my money in my wallet and realized $80 had been missing right after she had paid me rent. At that point I decided to label my panties just to prove to my logical brain that maybe I was just crazy after all.
Another couple days go by and as I’m passing by her room again, right by the door on the floor was another pair of Victoria Secret panties. I entered the room and picked it up. There were my initials, in red sharpie, written across the tag.
In a fury, I searched through what meager items she did have in her room just to see what else this psycho-bitch had been stealing from me. I found a couple of cosmetics and clothing of mine. I checked her barren closet and found a couple of shirts, one of which had a bulging front pocket. I opened it up and had hit the evidence-jackpot!
Not only was this girl stealing my money, my makeup, and my goddamn panties, but she had also been stealing credit card numbers and copies of ID cards from her clinic. I took photos of all of the evidence and neatly folded it back in place and returned it to the shirt pocket.
At the time I was just so shocked by the theft of cash from my wallet and the panty thievery that I really didn’t know how to process what was going on.
I debated going to the police, but fortunately, I didn’t have to mull over it for more than a day when a package arrived at my place addressed to one of the people whose ID I had found in Renee’s room.
The next day I went to the police. At the time they were not sure about whether they had jurisdiction over the situation and kicked me over to several different stations until I finally found someone who would listen to my ridiculous tale.
I turned in the evidence and wrote a statement, however I found out that only a sheriff could kick this girl out of my apartment and that the only way they could charge her for the identity theft was if the people whose information had been stolen pressed charges.
I came home pissed as hell and marched up to my room to figure out what to do next. When I went to unlock my bedroom door I saw a bunch of white flecks and wood chips all over the carpet and all over the door frame.
She had been attempting to use a butter knife to pry open the door to my room while I was out.
After she left, I called the police and I filed another report. This officer at least took some pity on me and filled me in on a couple of loopholes. Apparently, because she had committed mail fraud on my premises I could evict her, according to California law, with 3 days notice as opposed to waiting 30 days, and without the need for a sheriff. I could also file a restraining order against her, however I would have to pay a $400 fee.
That night after she came home, I summoned up all of my nerve and gave her written notice to leave. I confronted her about all the thefts and of course she just scoffed and gave me a look like I was the insane person.
Later that night, around 2 am, I awoke to the sound of scraping and jiggling. I watched the door in silence and could hear what sounded like a butter knife attempting to pry open my locked door, while I was in the room. By then I was already sleeping with a kitchen knife under my pillow.
Part of me almost wished that she had managed to get in. I was ready to stab this chic, Carrie style.
Fortunately for both of us, she eventually stopped. When I woke up the next morning, she was already gone for work. That same day I headed to the courthouse and filed a restraining order against her. Interestingly enough, my case sounded so crazy that the judge granted it and WAIVED my fee because they had felt she was a possible threat to me.
By the time I returned home that evening, most of her room had been cleared out. She had left her mattress and some other random things. I changed the locks to the door then threw out her junk a couple weeks later.
After seeing the police, I had contacted one of the victims she had defrauded and told her about the situation and she had agreed to file charges. The police later called me in to view a photo line-up and I was able to identify Renee. I never saw her again after that.
In light of the many truely horrific tales of Craiglist roommates gone wrong in the news lately, I am grateful that in the end, nothing bad had actually happened to me.
So what did I learn here? Besides the fact that you can’t trust anybody?
-BACKGROUND CHECKS. Even though I had confirmed her employment at work, that still didn’t imply that she had been trustworthy. Also as it turns out, she wasn’t a nurse but was actually just a receptionist at the clinic. Doing some due diligence would have prevented this entire escapade.
-Sleep with one eye open, and maybe a knife under your pillow.
-Trust your gut, it rarely leads you astray. The signs were blaring at me yet I refused to look at them and tried to rationalize the situation.
-If you end up getting a roommate, lock up your personal items….But then again, if you have to go to those lengths, maybe you shouldn’t have that person as a roommate after all.
-Before getting a roommate familiarize yourself with state law. California is not “landlord friendly”.
*Names changed to protect the f%&*ing insane.
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