Some creative brainstorming and flexible thinking

August 8th, 2007 · 108 comments

Jenn in San Francisco received this little from a then-roommate who she lived with for a year but barely ever saw or spoke to. Says Jenn, “She was rarely seen outside the confines of her own room and seemed to prefer communicating electronically and then, only when absolutely necessary. So you can imagine, she probably stewed on the issue for a very long time. ” (Click the image to enlarge.)

some creative brainstorming and flexible thinking

Adds Jenn: Guess how this flexible-thinking roommate paid her bills? “By conducting CULTURAL SENSITIVITY TRAINING COURSES TO CORPORATE EMPLOYEES.”

FILED UNDER: "helpful" advice · e-mail · energy usage · lighting · money · roommates · San Francisco · smiley · temperature

108 responses so far ↓

  • #1   CjB

    Although wordy, it sure seems like a reasonable letter to me!

    I lived with a roommate who didn’t handle it quite so well. :)

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:08 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #2   anonymous

    I fail to see the irony in this note about power usage and the fact that she does cultural sensitivity training……

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:08 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   bobby

      I think because the note itself is trying really hard to be sensitive and come up with solutions for other people, and that is sort of what she does at work too. it’s more appropriate than ironic.

      Jul 15, 2008 at 1:07 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #3   essephreak

    seems reasonable to me too, and I too am missing the irony — exactly how is she being insensitive here?

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #4   BoggyWoggy

    I disagree with all of you. Why is she writing to the roommates when she could, and should, write to the landlord? If the place is sooooo outdated electrically, that seems to be a starting place.
    And, asking folks to avoid using space heaters and giving a mini-lecture on how to keep warm, wearing fleece and scarves, is something a mother would do with a 3-year old. It seems she thinks her idea is revolutionary and that no one else had thought of it!
    One other thing: “casts quite a pretty light” is her quote re: using the nightlight in the hallway. Poetry, man. Ugh! Where’s the Listerine mouthwash?

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #5   Mj

    Really doesn’t seem that bad to me, either. You can hear the sensitivity-speak in the tone.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #6   LC.

    Dunno, I tend to side with Phantom Roomie Girl on this one. I mean, unless she was just blatantly lying about the lights being on without purpose, she’s right. Turn ‘em off!

    I also fail to see the irony, as above.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   dostoevsky

      But the point, I think, is that she could have gone to them IN PERSON and talked about it.

      Jun 24, 2008 at 5:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #7   Ingrid

    I really don’t see the passive-aggressive angle here.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:36 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #8   Trevor

    The length itself is a major part of the problem. It’s patronizing. The stuff about increasing the “beer fund” with the smiley face? The space heater instructions? The double exclamation points on the bit about she’s the one who goes down the stairwell?

    This is hall-of-fame passive-aggressive: Someday you’ll have your own home and can run up your own energy bill.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #9   S. Thomson

    Actually, if the space heater is one of those normal, mechanical, heating coil units with an analog low-off-high switch on it, then it doesn’t really “passively” consume energy when it’s plugged in to the wall. But if it’s got digital controls and a digital on-off switch, then it DOES consume a little bit even when it’s turned on.

    But seriously, does the roommate unplug her computer when she leaves the room? Does she unplug the coffee maker? The most ridiculous part of the letter is that she clearly learned everything she needed to know about energy consumption from the intartubes.

    Also, it’s funny that the email is so sensitive, not that it’s insensitive. She’s practically using “I feel…when you…I want” statements. Classic conflict management 101.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:42 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #10   marissa

    Oh my God I want to STRANGLE HER. And I don’t even have to live with her. Trevor is right about the length. A letter this long about the electric bill? From someone who never talks to the other roommates? What a stuck-up bitch.

    Also, she can unplug the space heater her own damn self. (Normally, I wouldn’t say that but a) it’s not a hard or inconvenient thing to do b) this letter gives me SO MUCH RAGE.)

    And finally, if she only communicates via e-mail, I’d bet she’s NOT open to the others’ suggestions.

    Ugh. Must… step away… from computer. :)

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #11   loren

    Words, words, words.

    In any case, she’s right. Some people are wasteful w/out caring if someone else foots the bill for his or her own stupidity.

    Actually, if you can figure out a way to get someone else to pay your share of the electric bill, you must have SOME brains. Hmmm…

    Aug 8, 2007 at 6:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #11.1   jason

      Yup. Maybe a more socially adjusted method would have been to talk to them IN PERSON about it, but either way they were costing her money and burning unneeded energy that consumed resources/emitted pollutants. If I were her, I wouldn’t have spent so much time talking about how great the benefits would be for all, and spent more time on how they should quit f$%^ing her over.

      May 3, 2009 at 2:40 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #12   Andy

    Wow, two things:

    How much electricity did she have to consume writing this email, then for all of her roomies to read them on their repsective computers? Hmmmm?

    Also, they all share the common energy pie.

    She has some valid points, but good lord, that’s a long message. That’s the type of message that would make me surrender, for fear of another volume of energy-saving tips.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 7:27 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #13   mollysusie

    Oh my god. I’d have to strangle her in her sleep. That would warm me up.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 7:57 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #14   April

    Eh. I don’t think it’s that bad, though it’s long. I’d be pissed if my roommate’s space heater kept blowing the fuse, especially if I were subsidising the cost of its use.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 8:03 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #15   jules

    I lived in a roomie situation a couple of years ago for a few months. One girl drove me nuts leaving her tv on, lights, stereo, etc. and then leaving the apartment. Of course, she was also the one to have most of the fridge filled with her leftover crap, sink full of her dishes, and trash and mess all over the place.

    Maybe I’m too considerate of others, or perhaps the fact I am several years older and therefore, hopefully, more mature, to do that sort of thing. She wasn’t a teenager, but nearly 30, and a school teacher and church-goer. She also had the most obnoxious people over at all hours of the night.

    I guess the point of this very long missive is that I think as a society in general, we don’t always have common courtesy anymore or common sense. Turn the stupid light off when you leave a room. And for God’s sweet sake, don’t leave your “Lord of the Rings” DVD in the player, stuck on Menu, so that the same 32 bars of music plays over and over and over and over and over full blast on your TV in your room with your lights on while you decide to go pick up your friends and then have dinner and go see a movie.

    Thank you. I feel better now.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 8:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #16   [email protected]

    Geez Marissa, I really suspect you’re channeling your rage at someone else onto the letter-writer here! It’s a little wordy, borderline patronising perhaps, but nothing to justify your response!

    And the power-bill-cultural-sensitivity thang? Not even Alanis Morisette would find that ironic!

    Aug 8, 2007 at 8:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #17   Dr. Nona

    Oh man, I think I wrote a *much shorter* version of this letter and posted it on the fridge a few years back.

    BoggyWoggy, I agree that it may sound condescending, but some people truly are clueless. Not everyone realizes that wearing a sweater and scarf over a thermal shirt (instead of a short sleeved t-shirt) in order to not have a $500 heating bill is a trade-off worth making. I actually had someone tell me that she thought you should be able to wear a t-shirt around the house in winter. This was upstate New York, in an old frame house. I don’t fucking think so. (I had *major* utilities issues with this woman. The month she moved in, the water company sent me a letter saying I should check the house for leaks because the usage had doubled.)

    In my old house (I was landlady — it was like a small boarding house) space heaters were strictly verboten. They drive up *everyone’s* share of the heating bill in order to make one person’s room nice and toasty. T-shirt girl wanted to use a space heater, of course. Dumbass.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 8:36 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #18   kimi

    Team Rarely-Seen-Roomate.

    Put on a gorram sweater.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 10:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #19   Ella

    I, too, fail to grasp the irony of MIA roommate’s job. Someone enlighten me, please.

    Kimi, nice use of gorram. I approve.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 11:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #20   Jay

    Aaaaaaaaaack! Too many words! Make it stop!

    How about this: “Hey, everyone. Let’s try to be a little more conscientious about turning off the lights and appliances when not in use. Last month’s bill was a little high. If we all do our part, that means more money for textbooks/cheetos/whatever? Thanks!”

    My example was still too wordy but you get the idea. The author brings up some valid and reasonable points but hijole! Who wants to read all that nonsense? Not me.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 11:46 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #21   [email protected]

    I guess it is kinda ironic that Jenn’s act of submitting the note to this site is far more passive-aggressive than writing the note in the first place – especially with the all-caps shouting. Just not ironic in the way Jenn was intending.

    Aug 8, 2007 at 11:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #22   hellojed

    The roommate’s job goes some way to explaining the tone of the email – wordy, touchy feely, but ultimately patronising. She could have said the whole thing in a few sentences or better yet, sat down with her roommate and discussed it. She should know (and probably teaches) that email can be taken the wrong way and it’s better to discuss problems in person!

    Aug 9, 2007 at 12:03 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #23   magpie

    rather than writing such a patronizing letter, roomie should have yelled down the well-lit hallway for everyone to turn off their shit. that is my entirely aggressive solution.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 12:59 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #24   .................................................

    This is not a passive agressive note. It’s very polite and well thought out and makes a lot of sense. Not once does she blame anyone or take the higher ground.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 1:37 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #25   Sazbot

    She’s right. Turning off lights is good for the environment and your energy bills.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 1:46 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #26   j

    though i am not on “team” rarely seen roommate, i definitely agree with her more than the girl who submitted this. conserving energy is good. space heaters don’t need to be used constantly, and they should be shut off by the person who turned them on, not by someone else. and if they don’t get it, maybe a slightly patronizing lengthy “do you get it yet?” email should be sent. burn the message into their memory. “if i shut these lights off now i WON’T get another bitchy email later.”

    god guys, the email isn’t even rude. pointing stuff out to people for the good of everyone isn’t passive aggressive in the slightest.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 1:53 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #27   miss manners

    What a damn hippie! The obnoxious part about it is her indignation that others don’t automatically subscribe to her school of thought, and yet she undermines her whole premise: “Someday we each own our own house and then we can use all the energy we want.” That’s the very first sentence!!! So P-A.

    Also, her job is so un-ironic: She writes b.s. emails, and does b.s. work. I get what jen meant though and I think it’s funny too.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 2:06 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #28   miss manners

    Oh oops. I misread it. She just doesn’t want to go down the stairs to reset the breaker. My bad. Actually pretty reasonable for that. *blush*

    Aug 9, 2007 at 2:08 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #29   Angelique

    Mmmmm… energy pie…

    Aug 9, 2007 at 3:00 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #30   ginger

    i feel sorry for thst chick. her letter goes on a bit, but i think thst’d because she’s trying to avoid insulting or upsetting anyone. what she’s requestin is no big deal. turn shit off when you’re not using it !
    no idea what makes folks so angry. she just seems shy & perhaps not up to conflict.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 5:27 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #31   john

    the super aggressive responses here make me laugh. thanks!

    Aug 9, 2007 at 5:41 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #32   theblackdog

    I’m with the roomie here, it was a well thought out letter, even if the tone may have started out a bit patronizing.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 5:57 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #33   Oedipa Maas

    We should introduce her to Cormac – I bet she’d luuurve his energy-saving CFL bulbs (not to mention his matching blue bowls!).

    Really, having lived with a college roommate who blew the fuse FOR OUR ENTIRE DORM at every opportunity, I’m on Team Pie. I was too non-confrontational to come up with either a passive OR aggressive way to tell Tia that if she tried to simultaneously use her hair dryer, curling iron, stereo (with volume set to 11), tv (same), AND computer ONE MORE TIME I was going to put one of her adorably ruffled lemon-yellow throw pillows over her face in her sleep. Writing a note like this, however patronizing, would’ve saved me a lot of frustrated grumbling.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 5:57 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #34   Goldie

    Wow, am I the only one pissed about the space heater bit? Okay, I have to confess it struck a nerve. Mr. Goldie and I tend to disagree about the thermostat settings in winter. I wanted 72, he wanted 64, eventually we settled for 67.
    Last winter my son’s guitar teacher came in for a lesson, and it was 63 degrees in the living room, and the poor guy was wearing a T-shirt and nothing else. I could not convince Mr. Goldie to turn the thermostat up for the lesson. Poor 18yo kid probably froze his ass off. Needless to say he stopped coming soon after that! And yes, I wear two sweaters and two pairs of sweats around the house, and it’s still too freakin cold! I’ve got to say we do use space heaters in the bedrooms though, but I cannot spend all day in the bedroom, I have a household to run.
    Now that my rant is done, you can guess what I would tell the roommate to do with the darn sweater and throw blanket and her freakin scarf. If these things won’t all fit where she needs to shove them, I’ll be happy to assist.
    Thanks for listening.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:06 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #35   Goldie

    Er, when I said the guy was wearing a T-shirt and nothing else, I of course meant he was wearing jeans and socks and hopefully some underwear and a T-shirt. Some wishful thinking on my part, I guess… it happens.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:08 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #36   The Queen of Passive Aggressiveness

    I once had a roommate that would always set the thermostat to 50 degrees, even in winter.

    I left several PA notes, including one with the definition of “room temperature” as per, and reset the thermostat at every opportunity. That bitch.

    Should have taken pictures, come to think of it.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:16 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #37   Sean

    It’s a reasonable request, but the method is vintage passive aggressive. How many days did she sit in her room with her scarf on, stewing, before getting the nerve to write this novel?

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:27 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #38   PatHMV

    As several others have pointed out, it’s the length that makes this rude, if not P-A. Going on and on with the detailed explanations tells the readers that she assumes they are idiots who don’t already know that turning lights out would save electricity and cut down on the bill. The problem with most non-light-turner-outers is that they haven’t made the practice a habit, not that they don’t intellectually understand the concept.

    A 3 sentence plea, maybe with the little table of specific energy consumption by different devices, should suffice for everybody.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:43 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #39   Vampira

    I’m sorry but if I was the letter writer’s roomate I would still do what I wanted. Why? I pay rent for shelter, and for me, that includes heat and a/c and fans and whatever else will make me more comfortable in MY home.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:50 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #40   Talea

    This letter is so well worded and written that I wonder if she wrote it intentionally to get her fifteen minutes of fame on this site? Cuz it just seems too good to be true.
    Just a thought….

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:57 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #41   Kuri

    Team environment (and therefore, team phantom roommate).

    I’m wordy, too, and there’s actually still a lot of ignorant people out there who don’t get energy conservation, so it’s not unreasonable for her to think that her roommates don’t understand it. Also, it sounds like she’s lived there longer, so she has a better idea of what level of consumption is too much.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:58 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #42   Vampira

    Here’s something to consider, why doesn’t the roomate who is concenred do what she/he feels is neccessary and leave the other roomates alone? If you rent somewhere you have the damn right to use the electricity and conserve it as you wish. Where I can see that stopping is if you are actually being stupid with power, example: leaving windows open in Summer and setting the thermostat to 66. Having a damn heater in the damn winter is reasonable, damn it. (Hippies!)

    Aug 9, 2007 at 7:10 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #43   EK

    yeah, yeah yeah, so the letter goes on too long and gets into a bit too much detail. I’m sure I’d be annoyed to get an email like it. But I bet that the real reason that Jenn is upset is that she was called out on being irresponsible and wasteful. Vampira, make yourself comfortable, sure. But if you’re going to use a space heater or a/c, you should be expected to toss in a larger amount of money for the electricity bill, it’s that simple.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 7:16 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #44   Vampira

    Sorry but I disagree, having a space heater or window a/c (assuming you don’t have central heat and air) is perfectly reasonable. One shouldn’t expect to be cold at home or to pay more for the electric bill because your roomates are hippies and are fine being either naked or wrapped in a 1000 blankets.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 7:34 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #45   jules

    I agree, EK. Maybe if Jenn had to pay for her actual use of the electricity, she would get it. And I don’t think that just because you pay to live somewhere, you can do whatever the hell you want. It goes back to the commom courtesy and sense issue. When you live with others, there has to be compromise. Do whatever the hell you want when you live alone. Just because I pay to live somewhere doesn’t give me the right to be stupid, wasteful, and rude.

    I’d have enjoyed having a roommate who stayed quietly in her room and didn’t bother anybody, and was concerned about the bills.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 7:37 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #46   Vampira

    Using something to keep yourself at a normal indoor temperature is not asking too much. “Omg an a/c or a heater are EVIL and not allowed.” That line of thinking is way more rude and stupid. I am wondering what magical land the hippies live in where it doesn’t get very cold or hot.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 7:55 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #47   Fraulein N

    Confession: I didn’t even read to the end of this damn manifesto, and I’ll bet the other roomies didn’t either.

    Phantom roommate makes a good point, but she really could have communicated it more eloquently with FAR fewer words.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 7:56 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #48   LK

    As I read this, I kept waiting for someone break out the guitar and start singing Kumbayah. So touchy feely. Ugh! The smiley face really got to me. Although she makes very valid points, she goes overboard. Was it necessary to present evidence from the electric company’s website?

    Aug 9, 2007 at 8:19 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #49   Goldie

    To #46, Vampira: well, they do live in San Francisco, in all fairness… not magical, but close enough… heh heh

    Aug 9, 2007 at 8:21 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #50   Zsa

    Too long, rambling and self-righteous (” I wear a sweater/blanket/scarf, why cant you?”) to be normal. I skimmed over large chunks too… had to go back and figure out why she thought a night light would work when the fuse went out…
    makes me wonder what else she is doing in her little fifedom (oops, meant-her room).

    Only other thing that would have sealed this as hippie P-A would be considering what their carbon-footprint size is and how many energy credits it would cost on TOP of the bill. Or maybe a paper vs plastic trash bag tirade.

    And in defence of hippies~ ummm. never mind, I cant think up a defence.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 8:31 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #51   Mishee

    I just love that she gathered information and obviously did research to quote some common household items and their power usages – especially “Television, color” LOL!

    Aug 9, 2007 at 8:56 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #52   D_luv

    OMG, this letter made pressure build up behind my eyeballs!!! I wasn’t even through the first paragraph of this “energy epistle” before all I could hear were Charlie Brown noises reverberating through my skull, so I know the other roomies hit the off switch before reaching the end.
    She’s probably 100% right about her ideas, but her approach was 100% guaranteed to get her ignored and ostracized even more than usual.
    This lengthy chapter makes me feel like I am being herded off a cliff by Martha Stewart.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 9:01 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #53   Horkin Chunks

    I think team Cultural Sensitivity is missing the point. Can’t you just talk to the roomies fer crissake? True it’s not such a radical request, but a inter-house memo? Do they use Outlook to schedule house meetings?

    Aug 9, 2007 at 9:02 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #54   Katzendogz

    Agreed that the length is outrageous, but I think a number of you are missing the point.

    She may or may not be a hippie on the conservation bandwagon and she may or may not be ticked about the electricity bill every month. Those are beside the point.

    The main impetus of the e-mail is because the power keeps going out! Multiple times a night! The solution may be easy – going downstairs to turn the circuit breaker back on. Still, I can imagine that it would be a huge pain in the butt to have to deal with it all the time, especially if you are in the middle of cooking, watching a DVD, working on the computer, in the shower, or any number of things.

    Seriously. This girl’s beef is legitimate.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 9:44 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #55   TL

    The point isn’t whether or not the girl has a legitimate concern about her power bill (she does), but how she addresses that concern.

    This letter is dripping with condescension and passive aggressiveness. We’re talking Bill “If you could just go ahead and keep the lights off, that would be great” Lumbergh levels of p-a here.

    If I were here roommate, I’d turn on more shit out of spite after receiving an e-mail like this one.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:03 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #56   The Queen of Passive Aggressiveness

    Her beef would be more legitimate if she talked about it with her landlord instead.

    There are laws that give tenants the right to a safe, secure, and electrically up-to-date dwelling place.

    If the wiring is so bad that a hall light left on forces a power outage and makes people wear outdoor clothing inside to keep warm, not everything is going to be above-board, law-wise.

    Just because she’s willing to bend over backwards to accomodate the scumminess of a landlord doesn’t mean her roommates have to be, nor should she take out her passive aggression on them.

    It’s not about saving energy, it’s about standards of living.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:05 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #57   tj

    If you live in the same apartment as someone, be an adult, just walk across the hall and talk to them! My roommate only communicates to me through post-it notes, email, and the occasional voicemail. I am moving out soon ;)

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:31 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #58   Potbelly

    Energy wasters are infuriating as roommates. Turn a light on, then…turn it off. Use a blanket instead of sucking a million volts vainly trying to raise room temp with a cheap electric space heater, unless everyone is running them. Or pay extra. Basically, energy hogs and conservationists have no common ground and should never live together.

    Landlords renting to a bunch of communal-living losers at a cheap rate are not to be approached or hassled, because as soon as they get too annoyed/have to shell out for serious improvements, guess who’sgetting a rent hike/ not getting their lease renewed?

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:54 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #59   thedude

    the irony that is meant comes from two aspects, the first being how the letter is sensitive and takes time to point out her just claim and compliant, followed by “new” ideas and finally capping with “would you be willing to do this? I’d really appreciate it.” Combine this with the known tactics of cultural sensitivity methods makes this ironic that she would then in turn use this same method of transferring her view points towards those she lives with.
    one must understand that cultural sensitivity naturally infers that you are a racist bigot that needs to be educated and re-educated, thus the inference that they know best. this letter is covered with that idea.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 12:01 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #60   T-Bone

    I’m with Frau N. I’m guessing the roommates didn’t read this ridiculously long email to the end. Blah, blah, blah-dy blah, yadda yadda yadda yadda. Blah, yadda, blah, blah. Quit writing and go talk to your roomies! They LIVE with you, for heaven’s sake. When they’re in the kitchen or wherever, just casually mention, “Hey- let’s turn off the lights, okay? The energy bill is really high.” That’ll save you the trouble of creating flowcharts and piecharts and power point presentations about something so simple.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 12:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #61   berrypatch

    This is sort of off topic, but it drives me nuts that nowadays people are constantly bitching about reading. That’s the main complaint I see among these comments. “Ooohh, it’s a whole PAGE long, how can we expect someone to read this entire letter???”

    Please. A little more reading in this country would not hurt ANYBODY.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 12:19 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #62   Jeff

    Team energy-saving roommate here. She shouldn’t have to split a gigantic electric bill caused by someone else’s space heater and leaving-on of lights. It’s like going to a restaurant, ordering the lobster and the most expensive glass of wine, and expecting to all split evenly.

    Though, she WAS a little long-winded and condescending about the whole thing, her point is more than valid!

    Aug 9, 2007 at 1:27 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #63   T-Bone

    Berrypatch: I’ve read literally thousands of books in my lifetime, as I’m sure plenty of commenters on this site have too. I enjoy reading something if it’s interesting and (hopefully) to the point, whether it be one page or one thousand. It’s not the length of the email that we’re complaining about, it’s the content. It’s unnecessary when a face-to-face conversation would have done the trick.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 1:39 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #64   joey

    my old roommate was soo adamant about saving energy that at times she’d turn off lights that went on immediately.
    for instance, i turned on the stairway light to carry something downstairs and she turn the light off even before i reached the bottom.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 2:00 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #65   Jenn

    It’s overly long, smiley faces are seen as condescending in these types of contexts, and I’ve learned from personal experience* that these types of notes simply don’t work.

    That being said, she still has a valid point.

    But teeny-tiny part of my soul is just dying to know: Does she use a candle when she isn’t using her computer?

    *Stupid 20-something tellers who simply did NOT understand that an entry slip to the lockboxes must be timestamped because, God forbid, if the auditors find the one that’s not, it was MY head on the chopping block…

    *cough* But I left that job ages ago and don’t participate in the passive-aggressive e-mailing anymore.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 2:09 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #66   ClatieK

    I think the letter writer sounds quite darling. I want to be her friend now.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 2:14 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #67   Zsa

    and Berrypatch~ if she made her point ONCE without meandering all over the merry path of rationalizations, i’d be more than willing to read it. If it was laden with snary comments and agressive accusations (like some postings), I would have read it- and probably twice!
    I choose to only read things that are entertaining or educational whether 1 line or 100 pages. Life is too short for yaddah~

    Aug 9, 2007 at 3:04 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #68   aliastaken

    I stopped reading halfway through, but yeah, space heaters spike up the electricity bill. And they are dangerous. I double up on clothing, extra pairs of socks, gloves, whatever it takes. Also, a heating pad, microwaved for two minutes or so, makes for a cozy lap or toasty feet when it gets really cold. I take one to bed almost every night in the winter.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 3:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #69   Zsa

    oops~ snarKy comments

    Aug 9, 2007 at 3:21 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #70   Meeg

    The hermit roommate has a good point about how peeps should conserve energy by shutting the lights off and whereas she definitely put in a lot of effort to making this message non-confrontational (I like the cutesy “and that way we’ll have more beer money :)”) I would be kind of annoyed if I received this message. A) it’s super long, B) I suspect her complaints about the lights going off may just be there to bolster her argument whereas she’s more worried about the electric bill, and C) her suggestions that the roomies bundle up instead of using space heaters sounds reasonable but I’d be damned if I had to live in a room so cold that I had to wear a sweater and a blanket. Those f*ckers do use a lot of energy though.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 3:22 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #71   Vampira

    She should have written the note on recycled paper made from her used toilet paper and inked with her own blood. Energy efficient!

    Aug 9, 2007 at 4:05 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #72   Helen

    I hope the other housemates appreciate the face that she stays in her room a lot. Imagine if they had to actually stand still and look as though they were listening to such a lengthy lecture? A post it by the light switch saying ” turn me off” might work better.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 4:25 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #73   marla

    This letter set off a few warning bells in my head. She didn’t write this on the fly in a fit of anger. This is calm, calculating passive-aggression. That, and the length of the letter suggests to me that she is either a sociopath, or just a huge nerd without any social skills. Anyway, if it’s cold enough to wear a scarf in the apartment, then breathing in the cold air will eventually shoot your immune system all to hell even if you have 50 layers on.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 6:22 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #74   [email protected]

    LOL @ Vampira. So much more PA than the original note!

    Aug 9, 2007 at 7:18 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #75   Goldie

    Coming up next – lengthy email asking roommates to conserve water by not flushing unless it’s a #2. If they could ingrain this pain-less habit to use water more wisely, that would be great.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 7:42 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #76   E

    I agree it is the length, and the fact that it was written (unless roommate works night shift while the others are dayshift, you first talk about shit like this before it escalates to writing) Instead of telling – she should have opened a dialogue… for even fired off an email saying “hey, the electrical bill was huge last month AND the breaker keeps tripping – we may have to talk to the landlord about it, but any other ideas? My wallet is getting emptier than the Grand Canyon, and I don’t want to skimp on the beer money? Can we all get together to discuss? I’ll make brownies!”

    Then your ass shows up in a sweater to make a point. Um, besides, in many places, the hairdryer wouldnt be on the same circuit as the lights. Just saying. It probably is the heater in combo with the hairdryer. So, her argument kinda sucked there too.

    Aug 9, 2007 at 8:31 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #77   lilcollegegirl

    It seems like team phantom roommate is assuming that the space heaters are optional, which isn’t necessarily true. Not sure how cold it gets in SanFran, but I live in the northern midwest and all the third floor rooms in my house have space heaters that needed to be on in winter so our collective asses weren’t freezing, even under down comforters. Heat included my ass…

    Aug 9, 2007 at 10:53 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #78   bekki

    okay, i can understand that she wants to save money on the energy bill, but an email [for chrissakes, if she was really sensitive to others feelings she would have done this in person] this long and worded like that is so freakin’ patronizing that it’s ridiculous.

    Aug 10, 2007 at 1:45 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #79   Bob

    does Vampira = jenn in sf?

    Aug 10, 2007 at 8:01 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #80   Deb

    I. Couldn’t. Finish. It.

    Aug 10, 2007 at 1:44 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #81   joebec

    i love how she said “then there’s more money for the beer fund” trying to appeal to the fun side of everyone. honestly, i think this one needs a few beers herself, and possibly some tequila. jeez! lighten up!

    Aug 10, 2007 at 2:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #82   Marie

    What maybe some people are missing about the space heater issues is that those things pull some serious amps. Older homes might have 60 amp electrical (100 or 200 is expected now) and a space heater can draw 15. The resulting blown fuses are probably what makes the space heater use problematic.

    Aug 10, 2007 at 5:43 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #83   loren

    @ Goldie – ha ha ha!

    Then she could post a sign by the toilet:
    “If it’s liquid, and any shade of yellow, you might want to let it sit in the bowl or “mellow” :) and if it’s solid, smelly, chunky, smooth or brown, would you please discard it in the proper pipes (flush it down).”

    Her take on the traditional toilet rhyme. Except it really ruins the actual rhyming part…

    Aug 10, 2007 at 10:17 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #84   Vampira

    No, I am NotAHippie in Texas. :D

    Aug 11, 2007 at 2:39 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #85   Banana(wo)man

    Ah! This magnificent website reminds me once again why living alone is the only way to go, food/booze/new clothes be damned.

    I think the hermit’s got a great point about the space heater, but DAMN, I can’t stand it when people complain about a light or two left on. I personally can’t sleep without a light on outside my room (in my own home, anyway), and I left a 40-watt lamp on in the living room in my old apartment each night. I returned from a weekend out of town to an empty apartment (she had gone out of town the day I left) and a note on my door: “PLEASE (underlined) turn off the living room light when you go to bed. Our electric bill is going to be SKY HIGH!!! (again with the underlining) :)”

    Seriously. ONE 40-WATT BULB. Holy hell, I wish I had a picture of it right now. Anyway, I told her I couldn’t sleep without a light on and it turned into a ridiculous argument and then a totally passive-aggressive “who can go to bed later and hence leave the light either on or off” contest…luckily, I only lived with this chick for about four months. My friends and I did get a huge kick and a still-running joke out of the note, though. SKY HIGH!!!

    Aug 11, 2007 at 9:49 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #86   Lisa R.


    You suck.

    Aug 12, 2007 at 12:44 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #87   Olivia

    This becomes a situation of “tl;dr” (but I wanted to)

    Aug 12, 2007 at 8:45 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #88   Down10

    She *sounds* nice and friendly, but the more you read, the more you can smell the heaps of “friendly” bullshit. Did she really need a 200-word paragraph to say “turn off the heater when you’re not using it”? The notion that she’s the house recluse with no other communication skills only makes the sheer length of this treatise on energy usage that much more PA and irritating.

    Aug 13, 2007 at 12:19 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #89   Miko

    Man, if I had to live with people who actually object to a note like this I would murder them. This girl sounds like the best roomie ever.

    Aug 13, 2007 at 2:52 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #90   megan

    The connection between her profession as a cultural sensitivity trainer and this letter is CLEAR…just look at all that sensitivity speak crap.

    I was a frequent visitor to this flat and let me just say a few things….
    1. This woman did NOT drink and has no business mentioning a beer fund.
    2. She insisted all the dishes be washed with her eco-friendly, non-working detergent. This meant a lot of scrubbing with few results. Why? Afraid of cancer, apparently. Yet it was fine to employ a microwave, eat meat, use a cell phone, or heck- occasionally even leave the house in a car. Meanwhile, everybody else is having to hide their stashes of Palmolive and wait it out.
    3. She NEVER ate solid food. This is not an exaggeration. One time I spotted a package of frozen peas on the counter and my jaw dropped…was she going to consume them? Ha! I should be so lucky…a few hours later we returned to her sitting in the kitchen, spooning mashed pea hummus into her face. She couldn’t even eat solid food, let alone use solid words!
    4. On New Year’s Eve, at around 10ish, she sees my friend and I getting ready and goes, “What are you guys up to?” I look up to see her standing there with the world’s biggest mug of tea. God. Nuff said.
    5. When the shower clogged, she actually had the balls to blame it on the “other” roommates, insisting it was THEIR long hair that must’ve done it, and not her shoulder length hair. Whatever- we all know it was that presumed rainforest of pubes that really did it.
    6. She refused to call the landlord for ANYTHING, somehow believing that flying under his radar was the only way to avoid a surprise rent hike. Because we all know the only reason landlords don’t raise rents in San Francisco is because they’ve forgotten about you.

    In conclusion, she sucked.

    Enough with the energy conservation comments. Nobody is interested in your opinions on that. If someone can’t see the needless diarrhea of these words, and their unoffensive, non-denominational, me-ness to you-ness, I-eat-mashed-pea-hummus-for-dinner tone then maybe there’s something wrong with them. This letter is the holy grail of passive aggression.

    Aug 13, 2007 at 12:03 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #90.1   JWM

      This comment is better than the original note. Can we all just agree to make fun of Megan from now on? Because apparently “nobody is interested in your opinions” on something as trivial as energy conservation. And how heinous of this roommate to take a polite interest in Megan’s New Year’s Eve plans — the nerve of some people.

      Sep 18, 2009 at 2:40 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #91   Vampira

    Megan I love you.

    Aug 13, 2007 at 12:53 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #92   Erica

    Go Team Megan!

    Aug 13, 2007 at 3:00 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #93   will

    I fell asleep midway through the letter, with all of the appliances on.

    Aug 13, 2007 at 4:28 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #94   Hedge

    I’m intrigued by the ‘garden-variety home appliances’. I can see how wasteful an outdoor space heater would be, especially with a thermostat…

    Aug 14, 2007 at 4:17 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #95   Craniac

    Alas, I couldn’t even read this exciting letter because my computer automatically reduced it to one-screen size, no matter how many times I clicked on the original. But of all the comments, I like MollySusie’s way back up the line most: “I’d have to strangle her. That would warm me up.”

    Aug 14, 2007 at 9:01 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #96   Amanda

    Brevity, soul, wit, etc.

    Aug 14, 2007 at 11:10 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #97   MC


    Which chapter is writing Obnoxiously Passive Aggressive notes in the cultural sensitivity handbook?

    But I really liked all the THINKING GREEN statistics. Whatever.

    Aug 15, 2007 at 6:20 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #98   Sky

    Does anyone else think that Megan’s comments are overly harsh and judgmental? I sure hope she and Jenn are as perfect as they want Jenn’s roommate to be. For all they know, her food consumption patterns have to do with health issues, and WTF does it matter if she shaves her pubic hair or not?

    Aug 27, 2007 at 4:01 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #99   sunlotus

    didn’t use a lot of power to write that long-ass letter on her computer about not using so much power when she could have said it in person and used none to do so? i’m just sayin…

    Aug 29, 2007 at 12:33 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #100   Captain America

    That energy pie was fucking delicious.

    Also… receiving a note like that would piss me the fuck off. Lights don’t use that much electricity, and they’re useful for being able to see where you are going the next time you walk into a room. If anything, a hallway light should -always- be kept on.

    I had the same fights with roommates. I am proud to be an energy-guzzler.

    Sep 12, 2008 at 10:33 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #100.1   PrincessVespa

      I gotta say, having a space heater is ESSENTIAL when showering in the winter. Think about the energy it SAVES by avoiding heating the entire house.

      Besides, people who freak about one or two appliances or lights in the house aren’t looking at the big picture with respect to energy consumption and energy production. One little 40 watt bulb just doesn’t make that much of a difference.

      And yeah, hermit roommate could have spoken to the landlord about the fuses, could have spoken to her roommates in person, and could have been way less condescending. She was “explaining” obvious “solutions” to her roommates but overlooking the big one–the landlord needed to fix the fuse/breaker rating on that circuit.

      Nov 11, 2008 at 3:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #100.2   Canthz_B bang

      Yes, because electrical appliances are always fun in steamy bathrooms.
      Try running the shower for three minutes on all hot water with the bathroom door closed. You’ll find a really cozy room when you return.

      Nov 11, 2008 at 3:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #101   communication needed | passive-aggressive (and just plain aggressive) notes

    [...] related: some creative brainstorming and flexible thinking [...]

    Sep 17, 2008 at 8:14 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #102   Jane

    This poor woman is dealing with utter imbeciles. If they didn’t figure it out after the first blown fuse, um, yeah, they need a letter that carefully explains beer funds and pretty nightlights.

    Sep 18, 2009 at 2:32 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up


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