DEAR ABBY: Is there a checklist of things to look for in a roommate? I need one.
After years of living alone, I was forced by economics and safety concerns to share a house with a friend of two years' standing. A kindergarten teacher who sings in the church choir and is devoted to her friends, "Donna" appeared to be the perfect roommate. That is, until I moved in.
Donna is a slob! She never washes a dish, empties a wastebasket or takes out the garbage. She leaves her shoes in the living room, uses the dining room table as her desk -- littered with paper, bills, hairbrush -- and has converted the den into her personal parlor. It's littered with dirty dishes and open food containers. We have one bath with a shower. Dirty clothes and wet towels cover the floor or are left in the shower.
In previous visits to her home, I'd always found it to be very neat. It turns out that her former roommate -- possibly as disgusted as I've become -- took it upon herself to clean up after Donna. I have neither the time nor the patience.
I'm looking for a new place to live. How can I protect myself from another roommate nightmare? -- DONNA'S SOON-TO-BE-EX-ROOMMATE, NEW ORLEANS
DEAR SOON-TO-BE-EX-ROOMMATE: Make it clear during the interview process that you're a "neat-nik" who is looking for a like-minded roommate. If you're placing an ad, mention it prominently in the ad. If you're using a search service, list neatness among your highest priorities.
If all else fails, try to locate Donna's ex-roommate. The two of you would be ideal for each other.