Part 1 of “Roommate Relations” offered some tips for dealing with roomies. Those bits of advice will do wonders if the other person is a rational, level-headed person. But sometimes, you get saddled with someone who just defies logic. Maybe the school matches you up with a walking nightmare, whether because of bad attitude, bad hygiene, annoying habits or some other tick that drives you absolutely nuts. And no matter what you do, it’s just not getting any better.
So what do you do? Well, you could grin and bear it, ignoring the situation until you beg for a new room assignment — or, as some people like to do, you could fight fire with fire by irking the heck out of the jerk. The Internet has produced quite a few gems for exactly this purpose.
Now I’m not recommending doing anything stupid. In fact, I’ll say it outright: Don’t do what follows unless you’re willing to incur someone’s wrath. (And if that happens, don’t blame us.) But hey, no harm in indulging in some creative brainstorming — especially if it releases some tension. So here goes: I present you with a few of my favorite, chuckleworthy d**kwad tech moves. These skirt the line, being just irritating enough to drive someone crazy without necessarily doing any permanent damage.
Sticky Tape — Love it, Use it, Weaponize it
It’s amazing what a little black tape covering a TV, cable box, stereo sensor can do. Since remote controls work off IR (infrared), covering up the sensors will yield you one frustrated roommate. Well, consider it a favor: If he has to actually get up and change the channel or volume, it can help him stave off the Freshman 15.
Of course, you can’t talk tape without going to the old standby — sticking some Scotch tape on the laser of his mouse. (Use a colored ink pen on the bottom, if you need to color in.) If you do a careful job, he won’t spot it — not now, or even when he brings home a new one that mysteriously doesn’t work either.
Noise is one of the biggest things to watch out for when you’re trying to get along, because it gets under people’s skin like little else. And you can use this to your advantage in multiple ways if you’re waging a war with a wanker.
Some people suggest pulling the chip out of one of those cheesy musical greeting cards and hiding it under a throw rug. But these are modern times, and we have better tools out there to send someone running to the hills. ThinkGeek’s Annoy-a-tron 2.0 ($12.99) is a tiny little device that emits six irritating noises. Hide it around the room to drive him insane. The battery lasts over a month, which is long enough to ensure he’ll go batty.
Don’t want to spend a dime? There are free apps like Sound Grenade (for iOS and Android) that emit a high-pitched, ear-splitting sound. (If you’ve got one of those noise-cancelling headsets, you’ll want to put them on first, to protect yourself. You can make like you’re studying to music or something: “What? No, I don’t hear anything. Dude, leave me alone; I’m working on my Psych exam.” Ha!)
You can also set alarms at stupid times, like 4:37 AM. Or whenever he goes into the bathroom, pick up your cell phone and when you hear him coming back, talk loudly into it: “I know! Can you believe he did that?” As soon as he’s in, say abruptly, “I gotta go,” and then hang up quickly. Repeat at least once a week until he cracks.
Some people get really touchy when you mess with their computers, so proceed with caution. You shouldn’t do anything that could seriously mess it up — not unless you’ve got the funds to fix or replace it — but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun.
Swap out the mouse cursor for an hourglass (PC) or the “color pinwheel of death” (Mac). Better yet, when he steps out of the room for a sec, take a screen grab of his exact desktop, move all his files and folders off it, and set the capture as his desktop image. Takes only moments to do, and his frustration at why nothing responds when he clicks on it is priceless.
There’s also the old prank of popping off keyboard keys and switching them around, which is classic. But why go through the trouble (and potentially have to replace a ruined QWERTY) if you don’t have to? Use KeyExtender instead, to re-map his keyboard. You don’t want to go too far — if everything’s different, he’ll know you messed with it. Go for a couple of subtle tweaks, like swapping the M and N, and it will take him a while to catch on that his bad typing skills aren’t the problem.
Miscellaneous Oddities, Tweaks and Reasons To Punch You In The Face
- Find his parents’ e-mail address from his laptop, tablet or phone, then friend them on Facebook. This will get back to him and totally freak him out, even if you do nothing more.
- Put your roommate’s phone on vibrate whenever you get the chance. The shake in his pants will drive him nuts. Or if he prefers vibrate mode, then put the ringer on. Nice way to make sure he gets some (probably much-needed) attention in class.
- Replace his name with something else for auto-correction on each of his devices.
- Snap a photo of him while he’s sleeping and use it as your lockscreen wallpaper. Then at some point, ask him to look up a number in your phone for you.
- Set the language on his mobile phone, mp3 player, laptop, tablet, etc. to Finnish.
- Get a random Google Voice number or use one of the anonymous online SMS services, to send him texts. Change the time of his study group, pretend you’re a hottie asking for a date or simply text spam him like there’s no tomorrow.
Sometimes, just thinking about “get even” fantasies is satisfying enough, which is the reason for posting this — as a harmless way to indulge some imaginary revenge scenarios. But fantasy aside, it’s almost scary to think of how many tools we have to aid us in the noble task of irritating the crap out of anyone unfortunate enough to live with us. This here’s just a sampling.
Ever had a bad roommate? How did you deal with it? And, not that you would, but how else could you have punked that punk? Go ahead, be creative and get it out of your system in the comments below.