Pat Muir is out of the office this week, so here’s some classic complaining from 2016.
My roommate chews tobacco.
One of the ways we (the two of us and others) bond as a household is by watching football games on TV and at Zaepfel Stadium. The problem is that he keeps spitting into cups and bottles with a horrible gagging sound that really takes you out of the game.
He won’t keep his spittoons in his room, so they keep spilling on the carpet. I’ve asked him to not chew during games, politely (using the magic word), and have thrown his little cans of chaw into the dumpster at work while he’s asleep. I’ve also left strategically placed images of mouth and throat cancer lesions around the apartment.
None of these tactics appear to make him stop chewing tobacco. Half the other roommates are smokers and won’t back me up. I have really cheap rent, a short commute and am on the lease until next fall. Please advise.
— Yours, Spitting Mad
I sympathize; there is no habit more disgusting than chewing tobacco. (Actually, I’m sure that’s not true. So to stave off the, “Well, actually,” brigade, let’s just say there’s no grosser habit engaged in so publicly by so many people.)
Have you ever tried it? I have. It takes a week to get the taste out of your mouth. And even then, the sense memory haunts you. The only thing comparable in my experience is the time I picked up the wrong beer at a party and accidentally drank someone’s spent cigarette butt. No one would ever do that intentionally, and yet millions of people — 3.4 percent of Americans, according to a 2014 Centers For Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet — use smokeless tobacco.
You know why? Because tobacco is madly addictive. I smoked on and off (mostly on) for 20 years, knowing the entire time it would kill me if I didn’t quit. I know everyone knows smoking kills, but take a moment and let the implications sink in: I knew I would die from it, and I still didn’t quit. That’s why throwing away his tobacco or asking him to stop won’t work. Compared to the looming prospect of painful death, those things just aren’t much of a deterrent.
All of which is not to excuse the spilling of spittoons or the general discourteousness. Your roommate could still feed his addiction without letting it affect others so much. But he seems unwilling to do even that.
Your situation, then, comes down to a simple cost-benefit analysis. Do the cheap rent, short commute and lease responsibility outweigh the grossness? I can’t make that decision for you; we each have to draw our own lines. But it sounds as though, in the long term if not the short, you’re going to want to move out.
Hope that helps.
— Sincerely, Crabby