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Toxic’ flatmate? Pangaralan na yan!

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, TOP STORIES

It’s all about respect for other people’s time and space, then you’ll have peace as longtime OFWs in the UAE would say.

DUBAI: As Tom Hanks would say in that multi-awarded, critically acclaimed 1994 film, Forrest Gump, “(L)ife is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Exactly! Life is so full of quirky people, you’ll never know what hit you! Not to sound misanthropic or unsociable, but let’s face it: it’s the height of naiveté to deny that there will always be oddballs in our midst.

To pull a bit of metaphor in the context of UAE expat life, the “box of chocolates” are the flats; the chocolates, the people one lives with – humans, still, at the end of the day, and shouldn’t be treated harshly for, instead be advised about, their shortcomings.

Here are the top-of-the-line “toxic” room buddies. Is any of them the person next to you?

1) The Runaway.

Indeed, stories abound about how some people tend to abuse one’s kindness to such point where they’d be better off switching to a career in scriptwriting because of the endless alibis and plots they offer to buy time till the one owed money says “kaliwali!”

Mica Soledad, working in Dubai for five years now, tells of her flatmate who once borrowed money from her. “Awang-awa ako kasi kesyo may sakit daw yung nanay. Hindi raw madala sa ospital. Kinabukasan ‘pag kahiram ng Dh2,000 sa akin, bumalik na naman.

“This time sabi nya, kailangan daw operahan agad kung hindi delikado raw. So, nakahirit pa sya ng Dh1500. Pati sa iba naming kasamahan sa flat. Tiwala kami kasi nga kasama naman sa flat. Nung singilan na, a week before, di na umuwi sa flat. Yun pala nautay-utay na yung gamit,” the Pinay said.

(I really felt bad for the person because she said her mum was ill and needed to be hospitalized, so I lent her Dh2,000. The following day she came back and said her mum needs to go under the knife; so, I gave her another Dh1,500. She was also able to borrow from the other flatmates. Time finally came to collect the debt and she was nowhere to be found.)

Soledad advised: “Naku, magpaprenda kayo ng kahit na ano. At least meron kayong panghahawakan. ‘Di masamang humingi ng collateral, sila nga nagungutang, eh.” (Ask for something to be pawned. It’s not bad to ask for a collateral.)

Perhaps the most common alibi used is “delayed salary.” It goes right straight from the books of garden-variety, runaways.

“Pare, pahiram naman muna ng Dh1,000 pambayad upa at DEWA. Di pa kami sumweldo,” would be the “opening statement.” (Bro, lend me Dh1,000 please for the rent and utilities, we haven’t got our paychecks yet.)

2) The Habitual Rent Defaulter.

Most Pinoys, like other expats, group together to rent a room, the monthly payment of which they divide among themselves. So, it’s Dh500 per head if it’s Dh3,500 and there are seven of them. Now, this type of toxic room buddy would default on or postpone his payment to a later date, leaving his roommates spending for his part of the deal. This wrecks everyone’s budget.

“May ganyan kaming kasama dati. Chronic na talaga, kaya sinabihan namin sya na lilipat na kami at di namin sya isasama,” said Macky Abendo who lives in the Al Rigga flats. (We had someone like that person before. It has become chronic so what we did was we told him we are moving to another room and we are not taking him with us.)

3) The Slob.

Room sharing has a downside: not everyone is wont to clean their space. There will always be a flatmate who would leave his or her things everywhere, wouldn’t wash the dishes and keep dirty clothes lying around. They’d brush their teeth, spit phlegm or blow their nose in the kitchen sink; and leave the john with “leftovers.”

Michelle Tiamsim shared: “Ang pinakanakakainis dyan yung papasok ka palang ng flat amoy mo na yung hinubad na medyas. Kasi iiwan lang yan sa harap ng pinto. Hindi man lang i-plastic para hindi mangamoy.” (What’s even more disgusting is when you enter your room and you catch a whiff of unkempt clothes and see that there were soiled socks by the sofa.)

4) The Gossiper.

In this age of WhatsApp group chats, gossipers have levelled up to a certain degree of sophistication, forming their own circle and sharing tales about what the people next door were doing. “Yayamanin daw sa Pilipinas, baon naman sa utang, niwala ka dyan..hmmp!” would one message; or “Malaki daw sweldo eh bakit dito nakatira?” (They said they are rich back home…. I don’t think so, for why do they have unpaid debts all over? (or) If he’s making good money, then why does he live here?)

Admit it. Everyone loves to gossip, especially on a weekend morning when most everyone is having a day-off and would mill around the kitchen or living area.

“For them, talking about other people is a fulltime job. I don’t like people who talk behind your back or judgmental,” said Genevieve Capili of Ras Al Khaimah. “Everyone is trying their best here to give their loved ones in the Philippines a better life. The least you could do for them is understand their little quirks,” she said.

5) The Call Center Lady

Why call center? Because it’s already wee hours of the morning and you can hear them in a hearty, lively talk with loved ones back home. It’s all about respect for other people’s time and space, as longtime OFWs in the UAE would say.

“Of course,” said Audi Hermana, a Dubai Media City graphic designer, “one has to draw the line between connecting with your family in the Philippines considering the time difference, which makes 2am or 3am Dubai time appropriate because it’s 6am or 7am back there; and giving due consideration to your roommates who have to get up at 6am Dubai time.”

In situations like this, said Karlo Dubros who lives in the Muraqqabat flats, “it’s best to do overseas phone calls with the loved ones in the living room, or best, outside the unit.”

6) The Forgetful Borrower.

From cooking oil to shampoo, pots and pans, even laundry soap. There will always be someone borrowing this and that, then forgetting or pushing payback to a later date till it becomes, as the old Pinoy adage says, “nakatatak sa tubig.” (Written on water to mean “leave it, it’s not going to happen.)

There are also those who, not even for goodness gracious’ sake, bother to get their own and have, instead, gotten so comfortable with borrowing daily survival things such as flat iron, kitchen plates, rice cooker, even lunch boxes and using them regularly like it’s theirs.

“Sa amin, ang ginagawa namin, pinagtataguan na lang namin ng gamit. Kasi pag nasira di naman papalitan.. manghihiram lang sa iba,” said Joey “MyPren” Carunzo of Satwa. (What we do is hide our stuff because the guy wouldn’t replace it if it gets broken anyway, he would borrow from someone else.)

7) The Shower Room Singer.

“Meron sa amin nyan,” exclaimed Angie Martirez, Karama salon staff. “Sus! Halos lahat hinihintay syang matapos dahil may pasok pa sila, at sya andun, nagsa-sounds at kumakanta pa!” (We have that kind. My God! Almost everyone is waiting for her to be done because they all have to go to work, but she’s just plain oblivious to it, even playing music and singing to it!) Martirez said they tried to fix the problem by setting up a shower schedule.

8) Miss Snoopy.

They are the type who poke their nose on someone else’s belongings, sometimes taking something without permission and forgetting to bring it back where they took it – a make-up kit for instance. “Nagugulo ang buhay ko pag nababago ang ayos ng gamit ko at di ko na mahanap,” said Sandy Buemio of Bur Dubai. (My world gets messed up when I couldn’t find my stuff because someone took them and didn’t put the back where they found them).

9) The Lightman.

It’s a no-brainer why they called him such. He’d come home from work in the dead of the night and turns on the light to change clothes. “Nakaka-irita,” said Christian Domingo, graphic designer. “Bigla kang maaalimpungatan, sira tulog mo.” (It’s irritating because the light distracts you and there goes your sleep.)

10) The Laughing Lady.

Manners. It’s all about manners and avoiding such stentorian laughter like you live alone in a mansion. “Ayoko sa lahat yung walang pakialam sa nararamdaman ng iba at yung kung tumawa ay parang wala nang bukas,” said Sandy Buemio, unit head at Aster Optical. (What I hate the most is when she laughs so hard with utter disregard to the people around her.)

11) The Shopper.

This type will do anything so she could go shopping, said Jennifer Garcia-Tugna, customer service representative at the Dubai International Airport. “Masipag magshopping pero walang pambili ng pagkain. Di pa nakuntento sa inalok mo pati pambaon at ice cream mo titirahin nya nang di mo nakikita.

“Tapos salisi naman sya sa ibang flatmate na nagluto, paglumabas ng kusina yung nagluto, dampot ng mangkok sabay sandok at subo ng mabibilis; ohhh di ba, nakakaraos? End of the month net ang sahod may pang shopping.”

(She loves to go shopping but has no budget for food; she’d take on your stock in the freezer, including ice cream. In the kitchen, she’d sneak in when no one’s looking, grab a bowl and dig in from someone’s pot, really quick. That’s how she makes both ends meet; comes payday, she gets her paycheck intact.)

12) The Snorer.

Snoring can be attributed to health issues hence, the best way to deal with people who snore is by using earplugs like the ones stewardesses give on the plane. Snorers can pass for someone who does voice overs at Disney. They can imitate animal sounds, or even a motorboat. “Nakakainis yung sobrang malakas maghilik. Kakasayad pa lang ng ulo sa unan tulog na agad at naghihilik na,” says Lani Ventosa. (Loud snorers are annoying. As soon as their head touches the pillow they fall asleep and start snoring)

13) The Laundry Lady.

No, she doesn’t do your laundry; she does her own – and almost every night when she returns from work. “Masaklap dyan eh, yung sampayan puno ng labada nya; di na makapagsampay yung iba,” said Ronald Barrios who also stays in Rigga. (Like it’s not bad enough that others couldn’t do their laundry, they can’t also use the clothesline whenever they have the chance.)

14) The Gas Man.

Gas has run out and so someone passes the hat; but the Gas Man wouldn’t chip in. “I don’t cook,” he explains. “He doesn’t cook,” said Wilhem Aquino, “because he eats everyone’s food!”

15) The Rendezvous Peeps.

It can make one uneasy seeing strangers in their flats especially if it’s becoming more often because one of the occupants has turned the room into a meeting and hang-out place. “Medyo nakaka-ilang lalo kung babae ka,” said Shirley Deogracias, who works at Dubai Mall. (It’s unnerving especially if you’re a lady and the strangers are men.)

16) The Bullies.

The kind who yells and muscles their way around, sometimes hitting wooden partition walling, when they didn’t get what they want or when somebody beat them to something – the laundry or cooking range, for instance. “Kapag ganyan, umaalis na lang kami. Nag-UAE kami para maghanap buhay, hindi para magkipag-away,” said Avelino Dimasulit, a hypermart cashier. (We move to another place when this happens. We are here in the UAE to make a living, not trouble.)

17) A Family Affair.

What happens when neighbors, cousins and former acquaintances from the Philippines stay together in the same flat? You get strength in numbers – sadly to the detriment of the other occupants. “Siyempre, ituturing na nila iyun na parang bahay nila, sometimes without regard to others staying there,” Daffy (not his real name) said. (Of course, they will treat the place like it’s their own, sometimes without regard to others staying there.)

18) The sleeper.

This particular sleeper twists, tosses and turns in bed all night, to the discomfort of the person on the other bunk. “Malangingit ang kama at uga ng uga. Di ka makatulog ng maayos,” said Christian Domingo of Satwa. (The bed becomes squeaky and shaky, it distracts you from sleep.)

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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