when you live at work: let’s talk about company-provided housing

A couple of years ago, I told the story of the time when I worked for an organization that provided free housing for its interns. They’d bought a huge old house, renovated it magnificently, stocked it with food, and housed 6-8 interns in it year-round. They also had a staff member live there rent-free in exchange for making sure the house ran smoothly — and for about a year, I was that staff member. I was in my 20s and traveling all the time, so it seemed like a good deal! It was not.

Things I had to deal with while managing the intern house: having to talk to a guy who refused to flush the toilet for environmental reasons, food thieves, a woman who wanted total silence after 8 p.m., interns who thought I was their mom and would drive them places, someone who liked to pee outside, and much more. As I wrote about in that old post, despite my best efforts they could not be trained to lock the door when they left — and unsurprisingly, a few months after I left, the house was robbed. Not only that, but when the robber came in and found some of the interns there, they assumed he was a new intern and they made him tea! Then they all headed out and when they came back, the “new intern” and all their electronics were gone.

At the time, I promised to do a thread on people’s war stories from similar living situations. So let’s talk about company-provided housing: have you lived in it, what was it like, stories you have, warnings for others. Have at it in the comments!

{ 624 comments… read them below }

      1. azvlr*

        I live near lots of bars in a college town. We play a rainstorm every night and nothing disturbs us anymore.

      2. tangerineRose*

        Around 4th of July and New Year’s, some of my neighbors like to set off fireworks or at least something that makes a loud explosion. It sometimes lasts until midnight, which can be… deeply annoying to those of us who might need to work the next day. Part of the problem is the volume, the other part is worry that someone might accidentally start a fire with the fireworks.

        1. it's-a-me*

          Oh that reminds me of 2 years ago, the business next door to my apartment held their christmas party in their backyard on a random Thursday in early December.

          It went until 3 AM until I went over there in my Pajamas and told them to knock it the eff off.

          And I WASN’T working the next day.

          I looked at their company on google the next day and they had a variety of 1 star reviews left over the course of the night. It’s a pity you can’t leave bad reviews for your neighbours!

        2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          This year for the 4th of July, my neighbors set off fireworks until 11ish, and then four big booms at 1:30. It was the absolute worst.

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          My whole neighborhood spent much of June and July this year setting off fireworks. Ugh.

    1. LOL*

      I’m mildly offended that “quirk” is listed right along side refusing to flush the toilet. Silence is golden!

        1. Nesprin*

          I worked for a highly kooky boss who asked her admin to make “if its yellow let it mellow” signs for the restrooms. Her admin was fantastic- she made the signs, laminated them, then put them thru the shredder.

          1. TooTiredToThink*

            Oh my word. I’m a yellow let it mellow person but I draw the line at someone else’s yellow! Or someone coming in after me. Blegh.

            1. Jayn*

              It wouldn’t bother me much, especially if discussed beforehand (one year in college this was proposed for our dorm). I’d be pretty upset at finding other colors though…

              1. Scarlet*

                Ok what if you have to do a #2 and you come across a “yellow”. Then you HAVE to flush otherwise you get the splash from the yellow.

                This is so gross lol

                1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  No, you can just put one piece of TP over the water and you never get any splashes.

            2. Glitsy Gus*

              Yeah, I do it at my house, I grew up during a severe drought so it was always the norm, but I don’t when I’m out at someone else’s space or the times I’ve shared space, unless this was also the stated house rules.

            3. Artemesia*

              I live in a place on the great lakes where we have too much water if anything — water conservation is really not an issue here like it would be in california. My husband still follows the ‘let it mellow’ thing — I hate it but since we now have separate bathrooms I just ignore it. I however am the one that clean the bathrooms and so it does annoy me. (we have been married happily for 50 years and he has always been a full partner in both breadwinning and household duties and kid raising — so I don’t fight silly battles — he does the vacuuming which I hate much more than cleaning bathrooms)

        2. MCL*

          I did work one time (well, volunteered in exchange for room and board – so kind of work-provided housing?) at a remote retreat center in the PNW. Due to the remoteness (plumbers were not a phone call away) and the cranky plumbing, “let it mellow” was the code we all lived by. But then, I’m a frequent wilderness camper and my standards in the wilderness are fairly minimal at this point – I find it luxurious if I don’t have to scout and dig my own cat-hole. But I am also able to adjust my behavior and would definitely not “let it mellow” in a shared housing environment where this wasn’t the agreed-on practice. I do flush after each use in my own house. :)

          1. Anon for this comment...*

            My husband and I grew up in “let it mellow” homes so our own home toilet has a 50/50 shot of having pee in it. I have to be VERY diligent about remembering to flush at work.

          2. Pickwick*

            We brought my high functioning autistic aunt to a caribbean resort. She tries to to be environmentally conscientious. She had her own room. She let it mellow and mellow and mellow. The toilet backed up. It was bad. It was so bad it flooded her room. Out the bathroom and into the room. Also, it did something to the septic system of the buliding and could be smelled outside the building for the next 3 days.
            Sorry, absolutely NOT work related.

        3. Kares*

          At home yes. I also have a rule. Twice and then it’s gone. I don’t want to over clog my lines.

          If company is over I don’t and never outside my home.

          1. soon to be former fed really*

            I use tp after a #1 or #2, not risking a clog by not flushing. Plus, I just find it nasty, don’t want to see my own pee let alone that of others. Yuk.

        4. ComputerD00D*

          This goes out the window the first time you have someone with kidney disease who is shedding protein in their urine. *holds nose*

      1. NerdyLibraryClerk*

        I’m guessing it’s the *total* part. Expecting quiet (wear headphones, don’t stomp about, don’t talk loudly, etc) after a certain time, even from roommates who keep different hours, is reasonable. Expecting *total silence* from roommates – at *any* time – is probably a recipe for misery on everyone’s part.

        1. King Friday XIII*

          I had a roommate in college who would complain to the RA that I was making a totally unacceptable amount of noise because I was typing after 8pm.

          1. Lady Meyneth*

            +1

            I’m a night owl, so I learned pretty early that headphones and socks are my friends when keeping peace with roommates. But I had one who complained *constantly* about the click of my mouse. At 10PM. In the living room. That relationship did NOT go well, and I was never so grateful to have someone move out.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            She would have hated my first roommate in college – they wouldn’t start homework until Midnight the night before it was due, and also insisted on every light being on.

            I never complained about her to my RA, my next door neighbors put what I was dealing with in perspective easily.

            1. iantrovert (they/them)*

              At least that was still homework.
              My three freshman roommates taped General Hospital every weekday and watched it together at midnight. As you might guess, I was the only one who had 8am classes. I complained about it on LiveJournal (just to my friends, but in a public post), and two of them and their friends internet-stalked me to harass me about that. At roommate mediation, I was apparently the bad guy for complaining about their behavior in a place they’d never have seen had they not gone looking. Then one locked me in the closet and laughed about it. I moved out into a single room for the second half of the year, and my level of stress dropped significantly.

          3. Skeetpea*

            Girl across the hall in the dorm had a roommate like that, so we let her type in ours. One night she typed a paper into the wee hours, about two feet from my head (with a typewriter, not a terminal), but I could sleep through anything back then, and I did.

          4. La Triviata*

            When I was in college, we had a guy in the dorm who was sensitive about noise. There was a joke that if you wanted to know the time (kids … we didn’t have watches or cell phones back then), just make a noise and he’d pop out and let you know what time it was (and object to the noise at that time).

            One year we had a married couple – a grad student and his wife who acted as the equivalent of RAs – who had a new baby and they insisted on almost total silence all the time, since the baby’s sleeping times were intermittant.

            1. Rachel*

              Babies who are given complete silence to sleep in grow up to be people who can’t sleep through anything.

              1. Tabby*

                This is facts. I grew up in a hotly contested gang territory — and it was directly across from a baseball stadium that had weekend fireworks shows. I literally learned to sleep through assault rifles, m80’s, whatever very easily. I can STILL sleep through a horrendous amount of noise and never notice it. My mother will be like, “You didn’t hear all that noise last night??!” Me: “Not a peep was heard by me.” Once I’m asleep, thassit, y’all. Thassit.

        2. Sparrow*

          Even if we’re just talking about quiet (not silence), 8 pm is still quite early. I am a quiet person, but I would not consider that a reasonable expectation, even on a work night.

          1. Shakti*

            I was going to say 8?! I’ve lived in apartments and generally try to quiet down my noise at 9 and after on week days and 11 on weekends out of respect to my neighbors, but totally don’t care unless it’s egregiously loud after 1am, but I’m a night owl.

          2. TardyTardis*

            Where I live, we sometimes have night flights of F-15s till 10 pm. Nothing like touch and goes on your roof to keep you awake!

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                I am guessing that TardyTardis may currently be living on an aircraft carrier or military base.

                1. Not that Kat*

                  I grew up about a 15 minute drive from a US base in Europe. Can confirm, they do like to fly low and late A LOT.

                2. Historic Hamlet Dweller*

                  We currently live near a bunch of bases – there’s really nothing like super low jet engines over your house!

        3. NerdyKris*

          It’s just not a realistic expectation when living with that many people. There’s going to be noise and talking.

      2. Engineer*

        When Los Angeles was in a major drought in the 90s, there were radio/TV PSA telling people, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.” People also put bricks in their toilet tanks to conserve water. This was all before low-flow toilets were a thing.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          Yuup, we did this int he Bay Area too, bricks int he toilet tanks and only flush when it was… necessary.

          1. Amy*

            Actually did live in employer owned housing. It. Was. Awful. Nice house, but the expectations were over the top. Someone forgot to schedule their event, well you live next door for free so I’ll just knock on your door at six am and demand you set it up by six thirty because the event starts at seven. Oh, you’ve worked 12 days straight and this was your first day off? While you’re at it, can you fill in for the caterer? They cancelled when I refused to pay the contract by the due date. Oh. No. I didn’t order food. You’ll have to go get it and prepare it. First meal is scheduled for 8. That’s not a problem. Is it?

            That’s just one example. One tiny example of how awesome it is to not be able to leave work. Ever.

            People of the organization believe that you owe them for the privilege of having housing as part of your compensation. No matter what the organization. It’s not worth it. I loved my house. But I couldn’t even have a dinner party without interruption. And the expectation on my family was worse. Like if I wasn’t there one of them should jump and do whatever someone wanted. Good riddance.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Oh, I once had a landlord who’d come in at midnight to demand I fix his computer and TV (!). No, I didn’t work for him and he wasn’t paying me; he just insisted I fix stuff for free. I told him I had no idea how to repair a TV and would probably break the TV and electrocute myself in the process, since it was an old CRT. He was pissed, but there was no way I was risking my life to save an entitled cheapskate a few bucks.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          FWIW if you’re thinking to do this now, seal the brick in a ziplock bag or just use a weighted jar. Sometimes bricks & rocks can slowly dissolve in the tank and you’re left with sand clogging valves. (Long running advice from the family I married into, some long-gone cousin was a plumber.)

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Weighted jar it’ll be then, because the ziplock will be in plastic, and plastic contains bisphenol A and other horrors that leach into the water, causing neurological and manhood damage.

    2. Buni*

      I’m spending this weekend with my parents in the countryside, which will be lovely because a) the city temp. all week has been 85 – 90 with humidity in the 60% – 70% range, but more importantly b) if you hear a noise there after 8pm you get up to go look…

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      When I lived at (illegal) student housing there was a group who drank all night next to my room. They all worked at restaurants and had afternoon and evening shifts, while I worked a 9-5 job, so I think asking for silence after like 10pm was reasonable, right?

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I think living in any kind of shared wall housing, dorms/apartments/condos/town homes, expecting total silence (such as no music period, no tv, no walking on the floor, talkin etc…) at any time is unreasonable. Expecting things to be quite after 10 pm such as music/tv at a reasonable volume, no vaccuming, people not to walk in heels but knowing they may walk around, is reasonable.

        If you want total silence you need to buy a house, or find a apt/condo building and fill it with only people who want total silence after 10pm.

        I don’t know if the student housing was in the US or not, but in the US you can’t expect student housing to be silent after 10pm especially on the weekend. This may have been a sarcastic comment if it was I missed it.

        1. MCL*

          I lived in an apartment building in grad school that had quiet hours after 10pm, and that was well-respected by residents. It was glorious!

            1. MCL*

              It was actually super quiet after 10 – I guess there were some TV noises, but people really did keep it down.

            2. Gymmie*

              I feel like that’s normal. When I think “quiet time” I think, no BLASTING of TV or radio, no practicing the tuba, not having many people over and talking loudly, etc.

        2. memyselfandi*

          I don’t think the comment was meant to be sarcastic and I don’t think the request is unreasonable with flexibility. It is called being considerate of others. But, then again, I grew up in a family of 10 with one bathroom. It was a lesson learned early.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            Maybe we are talking about the same thing using different words. I agree expecting things to be quite after 10 pm is certainly reasonable, but expecting things to be silent is not, to me SILENCE means no noise at all (no tv, talking, walking cuz floors creak etc…) every person has to be asleep after 10 pm.

            I live in a building with thin walls/floors, you can sometimes hear people coughing, having a conversation, flushing the toilet and often hear people walking around. It is something you get used to, and you can’t expect people to refrain from waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom because they are afraid make noise and breaking the silence.

            1. Third or Nothing!*

              Yeah, there’s a huge difference between the usual nighttime life noises you expect to hear if you live anywhere near other people, and obnoxious noises.

              1. UKDancer*

                Definitely. I live in a block of flats and the management company asks us not to make undue noise after 11pm. They give examples like playing loud music, watching TV loudly etc. They don’t say you can’t make any noise because some noise is inevitable and the soundproofing is not amazing.

                So I can hear my neighbours on one side go to the loo at night and that’s fine and I can hear the children the other side crying sometimes but I think those are normal and acceptable. I’m sure they can hear me moving around and having my evening bath. Part of living in a block of flats is being tolerant and thinking of others.

              2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                Yeah. We had new neighbours move in, a family with two young girls. The landlady asked me whether there was too much noise, and I said, it’s not so much the decibels as the type of noise that’s a problem. The type of noise was the parents basically screaming at the kids the whole time. Had they made the same amount of noise, but in the form of laughter and joking and playing, I wouldn’t have minded in the least (especially as there was plenty of that type of noise coming from our place).

            2. Gazebo Slayer*

              Yeah, I used to live with someone who would go into screaming rages sometimes if people flushed a toilet or even walked or had a light on elsewhere in the house late at night. (Seriously, it was like he had super-senses that let him tell if someone was awake and reading on the opposite side of the building.) He’d previously lived in apartments in large cities; I don’t know how he ever slept!

        3. Well...*

          100% this. Everyone needs to live their lives, that’s kind of the whole social contract quiet hours is upholding as well.

          Certain neighbors seem to think quiet hours means everyone must be asleep, and cooking food for yourself/taking a shower/walking across the room to turn off the lights when you do go to sleep is too much. During the lockdown there were some meltdownnnns from a lady in our building surrounding this, but the rest of us mostly rolled out eyes and ignored her more egregious demands.

          What actually bothered me was excessive noise during the day, aka work hours. None of us can go to work, so does the music have to bump like that at 3pm? Luckily headphones solved the problem so I didn’t actually go bother anyone over it, but it was the one lockdown noise thing that started getting to me. Late night noise I was okay with, but we’re all different.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            My read on people who have dramatic meltdowns over normal levels of sound is that it’s not really that they can’t sleep – it’s that they want to exert power and control over others, or possibly want an excuse to scream and bully people.

        4. Attack Cat*

          Also I’m pretty sure student housing (dorms specifically, not campus apartments) in the US has different building and insulation standards compared to normal apartments. I realize part of the issue is beds shoved against the wall in them, but I should not be able to figure out what someone is talking about on the other side of the wall. I’m not blaming them for being a loud talker, I’m blaming the lack of insulation combined with a study area so small that their head was resting on my wall. And this was in the fancy dorms where every room (2 people) or suite (4 people) had their own bathroom. And yes the friend group that hung out there did regularly disperse by midnight. They weren’t trying to be rude, they simply had no where else to go talk.

      2. moql*

        Honestly? No, I don’t think you were reasonable. They were on a totally different time zone and you were trying to make them stick to yours. Asking for them to be quieter at any time of the day is reasonable, but silence after 10 pm for people who might not get off work until 2 am isn’t an okay ask. And partying in general is part and parcel of living in student housing.

        1. Anonapots*

          Nah. If you’re working a late shift, you just have to accept your hours are going to be counter to most other’s hours and suck it up.

        2. tangerineRose*

          I think asking people to be reasonably quiet after 10 pm is OK, even if they have weird hours. I mean, they’re probably going to want others to be quiet at other times, right?

      3. Them Boots*

        I had roommates that did not work, rarely went to class, and a lack of understanding as to why blasting their stereo at 2 am -weeknights & weekend nights- after getting back from a party- was not working for me. As in, after multiple requests to keep the music down (note: not off) after 10:00, they were actually surprised when i gave notice & broke the lease. Which i was able to do & get my deposit back when I explained to my landlord/roomie that there was a clause in our contract about being respectful to each other and if she was uncertain about what that meant, we could contact her father (house owner) for clarification. Note: she was in my major and failing hard due to lack of attendance….. Blackmail? You betcha!!

      4. Quinalla*

        Quiet yes, silence no. I had a roommate freshman year of college that liked (like most college students) to stay up super late every night. I had either early classes (7:30am) or work (6am) every week day, so I just asked her to be quite after 10pm or whenever I went to bed, but yeah I didn’t ask her for silence, that’s not really reasonable in a shared living situation. I also ran a fan for white noise to help too and would have looked into ear plugs, etc. if I was still having trouble sleeping.

    4. MCL*

      I occasionally lead vacation tours abroad, and Allison’s description of herding interns gives me some flashbacks! Except my folks were G-D ADULTS. Pro-tip: If you don’t think you can acclimate to other noises such as snoring or different sleep habits, bite the bullet and pay a little extra for your own room so you can enjoy a restful vacation. I had a couple folks who had snoring roomies and they just couldn’t tolerate it, but by the time they figured this out they were out of luck because the hotels were full. I do sympathize because I am similarly bothered by snoring… but I know myself and I would just pay another $50-$60 or so per night for my own room.

      1. HoHumDrum*

        I feel this way about any group living situation- if other people living their lives (meaning making a reasonable amount of noise and mess and such) will drive you up the wall…maybe you need to work on finding the cheapest studio you can and live alone. I love group living- but I’m also very good at tuning out other people’s noise and I’m a heavy sleeper. I’m also not overly bothered by mess (although I have my limits of course). I think you need some of these qualities if you’re going to share space successfully.

        Compared to someone I knew who used to make her roommate brush her hair in the hallway because the sound of the brush moving through the roommates hair was “too loud to sleep through”. Yeah, sorry, you either need to learn to sleep through hair brushing or you gotta figure out how to get yourself a single room.

          1. HoHumDrum*

            Those are useful! I will brag a little and say I don’t need them- if I want to go to sleep I can be asleep pretty fast, even with the lights on and noise. When I can’t sleep it’s because of anxiety, there have only been a few times I can think of where it was the environment that was keeping me up. I like that think that’s an asset I bring to the table as a roommate- I really truly dgaf what you do, I’ll be fine.

          2. MCL*

            I highly recommend the Lectrofan Micro for a travel white noise machine. I have had mine for years, and I have gifted it to several admiring friends and family. It is highly powerful and extremely portable, and rechargeable! :)

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          HAIR BRUSHING is too loud? My God, she’s like an auditory version of the Princess and the Pea.

      2. Harper the Other One*

        I will always, always pay extra to get a solo room.

        ALWAYS.

        I know myself and I can only tolerate my husband’s sleeping noises because a) I love the man And b) I usually fall asleep first. It’s on me to either deal or pay the difference if I want the quiet I crave, and I’ve never regretted paying the difference.

      3. Ana Gram*

        Yes! I love group tours but I know I can’t share a room. So I pay the extra. It’s worth it to have a fun vacation. The tour guide who left a woman who was perpetually late was my hero. She missed out on the day tour and was in a snit but she was on time from there on out!

      4. It's a fish*

        I also lead group tours abroad, and heartily second the thought that people should pay the single supplement fee when it’s available!

        I nearly always have to room share with coworkers when traveling (and you have no idea how hard I am crossing my fingers that this will be something that changes when international travel resumes). Generally speaking I am happy to report that people who roomshare regularly as adults have learned how to navigate shared spaces. My main beef comes from a loud minority of coworkers who feel it’s appropriate to party in shared housing (“because guide houses are party houses!”. No. No. They aren’t), or the younger guides who are completely clueless about how much their mess impacts others. I can turn a blind eye to the tornado that hit your side of the hotel room, but if you have used every towel in the bathroom, left hair all over the sink, and spread your toiletries across all surfaces, you can just go find a different career.

        Mellow yellow in my experience can be negotiated – some roommates strongly prefer not to hear running pipes at night, especially when their room backs onto the bathroom. I will heartily accept a no-flush policy overnight but expect flushing during the day.

      5. jamjari*

        Not noise, but the last (yes, *last*) time I shared a room with a stranger on a group trip, one of the women I had to share with insisted we leave the window open at night to “get fresh air” …and get eaten alive by mosquitos. Luckily it wasn’t a mosquito-borne disease hot spot and that was the last night I had to share with her. I learned my lesson – whatever I have to pay for my own room is worth it.

    5. Gazebo Slayer*

      You’d haaate where I live. Extremely loud construction noise at all hours, including 4 am.

    1. Phil*

      I thought “popping popcorn and opening a soda” was your horror story at first. Let the people live a little! ;)

  1. Diahann Carroll*

    Not only that, but when the robber came in and found some of the interns there, they assumed he was a new intern and they made him tea! Then they all headed out and when they came back, the “new intern” and all their electronics were gone.

    I’m dying. LOL

      1. Jennifer*

        On the CW, one of the young female interns would have fallen in love with the robber and they’d hatch a plot to defraud the entire company.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right? Making the new housemate tea is a very inviting and thoughtful gesture – too bad he didn’t actually live there, lol.

    1. merp*

      Must have made the robber’s day, tbh. I’m imagining them being all “hey we were about to head to Target, do you want to come with?” and the robber’s just bewildered, saying “nah, I think I’d rather settle in, thanks though!” Easiest job ever.

    2. FrenchCusser*

      There was a story at the university where I used to work, where some law students helped a guy who was removing the big screen TV from their break room.

      They just assumed he was maintenance, when he was actually a thief.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Right! I mean, I grew up in a suburban area with little to no crime, but even I’m not this damn trusting, lol. Even if you’ve never experienced or witnessed a crime up close, I would think you would have at least seen it on TV in some capacity. Or read about it if you didn’t watch TV growing up.

          1. Jennifer*

            Just maybe give security heads up? There’s a dude moving our TV. Is he supposed to be here?

          2. LunaLena*

            I dunno, I wouldn’t be so sure one would recognize it as a crime. If I see a person lowering an AC unit out of a window to someone below in broad daylight, I would assume that they’re moving out and having someone help them (especially since I saw this happen during the last week of college, when lots of people were moving back home for the summer), not that they were thieves. I think we as humans tend to believe that everything is normal and fine until we hit some kind of tipping point where it’s impossible to pretend any more. If you read the accounts of survivors of mass shootings, for example, many describe freezing in the moment or thinking “that sounded like gunshots, but it couldn’t be” until they actually saw the shooter or someone told them to run. It’s easy for us to see in hindsight that something was wrong, but in the moment we tend to want to desperately believe that everything is okay and life is still normal.

            An interesting experiment of this was, of all things, on an episode of Jackass. One thing they used to do on the show was pull pranks on bystanders and then film their reactions. In one episode, a girl in a busy mall parking lot was unsuccessfully trying to climb through the sunroof of a car. Passers-by would stop to help (or sometimes she would solicit their help), most often resulting in a guy getting in and unlocking the door for her. She would thank them profusely, then get in the car, grab the stereo and run off as the car alarm started blaring, leaving the good Samaritans wondering if they’d just assisted in a robbery. Even if you opted not to help her, do you think you would recognize this as a crime in progress, albeit a fake one?

            Another great example is the show The Carbonaro Effect, in which the host, Michael Carbonaro, performs small magic tricks in public for unwitting bystanders – for example, he’ll pose as a bartender and show off some impossible new way to serve drinks, or he’ll be a salesperson showing off some amazing new gadget. He’s also very good at coming up with plausible explanations for what’s happening – I remember one where he was working with some frogs in a cup, which he “accidentally” dropped. When his assistant (who was the audience for this particular trick) picked up the cup, instead of five small frogs there was one large frog, and he explained that it was a defense mechanism that particular breed of frog had, i.e. when they were scared they’d Voltron into one big frog to scare away predators. I would like to think that, if I was the witness to one of his set-ups, I’d be smart enough to realize it was just a trick, but I’m honestly not so sure about that.

            The book Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladstone talks about this in more depth. Gladstone calls it a “default to honesty” – unless we see a clear reason not to believe someone, we tend to take people at their word. Usually it’s a good thing – 9 times out of 10, the person you see climbing a ladder outside a house is just the homeowner cleaning out his gutters and there’s no need to call the cops. But that also means we tend to assume that that is indeed the case, and it’s not that 10th time where it’s actually a peeping tom or worse.

            1. LunaLena*

              By the way, as an example of how trusting we really are and how strong that “default to honesty” instinct is: that story I told at the beginning of the post, about some guys maneuvering an AC unit out of an apartment? How certain are you that it really happened, and that I didn’t just make it up for the sake of this post? :)

              1. tangerineRose*

                I think it might depend on the amount of confidence the thieves had. If they were acting like people doing a mildly disagreeable job, people would be more likely to think they were doing a real job, not stealing.

                1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

                  The city I used to live in has fairly rare native cacti and other plants in the medians and roadside landscaping all over town. When I lived there they had a spate of thefts of these plants. People would dress up in matching coveralls and high vis jackets, dig them up, and cart them off in wheelbarrows. They managed several before they were caught, because who would want to go dig up a huge spiky plant in the desert heat right next to a busy road unless they were getting paid? I suppose they were getting paid but not in the usual way.

            2. Jennifer*

              I didn’t read this entire comment but I don’t know of anyone who has maintenance on their TV. Usually once it’s busted you replace it. The story should have at least raised an eyebrow. I think it really just depends on where you come from and how you were raised.

              1. Jennifer*

                And just as a general comment – please no stories about how many people know someone whose uncle’s barber’s great grandson has their TV repaired all the time.

                1. blaise zamboni*

                  I didn’t read your entire comment but I did hear that the CIA was able to infiltrate the mob by intentionally interfering with their TV connection and sending in a “technician” to fix it, then planting a bug. So I guess repairing your current expensive device instead of wastefully trashing it is good enough for the mob.

              2. LunaLena*

                I didn’t write that post in response to you, so it’s okay that you didn’t read my post and responded completely irrelevantly :)

                Also, how do you know the guy removing the TV isn’t removing it preparatory to replacing it because it’s busted? “Maintenance guy” doesn’t mean he was planning to fix it, just that they assumed he works there and therefore has a right to be handling university property.

                1. LunaLena*

                  Oh, and I also recommend an old Discovery channel show from 2005 called It Takes a Thief (you can find episodes on YouTube). The hosts were former professional thieves who were tasked with breaking into people’s home to expose the flaws in their security. They did this in broad daylight and got away with it almost every time. You can even see people walking past constantly, and some would even stop to talk to them, but they rarely actually intervened – how sure are you that you wouldn’t be one of those people? :)

            3. Athena*

              I agree. I think its a pretty good thing to default to assume everything is above board and not get involved unless its your property or safety involved. It hurts no one to mind your business. There’s a reason why Karen has become a meme.

            4. MMY*

              This is so interesting in light of stories I’ve seen recently in relation to Black Lives Matter about Black people who purchased things like a new TV and then were accused of being thieves on their way to their cars. The default to honestly or thinking someone looks like they belong somewhere has a lot of factors involved, I guess!

            5. Nobody Nowhere*

              I did the sunroof thing once. Set my keys down in the trunk while loading groceries and shut the lid. Nobody in the parking lot offered to help or called the cops about a “car thief.” They were probably too amused at watching a fat, middle-aged woman trying to squeeze through the tiny sun roof of a tiny car!

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        When my husband worked for a big retail chain the story was that two guys walked out of the sporting goods dept carrying a canoe one summer day and all the staff just assumed they had bought it. They came back for the paddles and that’s when they got caught.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          I KNOW THIS STORY. I had a coworker who worked at the same store. It’s legendary.

          1. BeenThere*

            It was the plot in an episode of a 1970s TV show called “James at 16”. That’s where I know it from.

          2. Not A Potato*

            I think a friend of my dad’s was one of the guys… or my dad just stole this story…

        2. Mama Bear*

          When I was in HS, my French teacher watched kids in the parking lot and mused out loud about how if they looked like they belonged out there, she wasn’t going to bother to investigate. I learned that the trick to getting away with things is looking and sounding confident.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            One of great uncles once won a large bet by stealing a table and 4 chairs from a restaurant, place setting and all. How? He dressed as a waiter and set it up outside.

        3. tangerineRose*

          Jay Leno wrote a book with clippings about stupid thieves. I remember one of the thieves stole someone’s TV and got caught when he went back to steal the remote control.

        4. realjillyj*

          I recently started working in management for one of the retail giants where the “uniform” is just a shirt of a certain color and a name tag. We were told during orientation that one of the reasons they’re so strict about everyone wearing a name tag, is because of theft. Apparently multiple stores have had huge problems where people would just come into the store, wear the right colors, and walk out with TVs and stuff because people just assumed they worked there.

        5. Junior Assistant Peon*

          I know of a guy who confidently walks into commercial kitchens and loads up a garbage bag with filet mignons, lobster tails, etc. Turnover in those places is often high enough that a stranger who acts like he’s supposed to be there doesn’t stick out. His MO was to openly carry the bag of loot to the dumpster area, and anyone who saw him assumed he was just taking out trash. If he made it this far without being questioned, he’d set the bag next to the dumpster, then swing by in his car and grab the bag.

    3. Janey-Jane*

      It doesn’t sound like learning to lock a door when leaving would have prevented this theft. Sweet, naive interns!

      1. Rose*

        The theif probably took advantage of the unlocked door, was accidentally caught, and then unexpectedly welcomed. Unless his plan was to pass as an intern. I don’t think he would have knocked if they kept it locked. Just a guess

    4. JustaTech*

      Yeah, this tangentially happened to me in college, one of my suitemates had an off-campus boyfriend she refused to introduce to any of us. So one morning I’m going to class and there’s a guy in my lounge and I think “oh that must be the boyfriend” and didn’t think anything of it.
      Nope, a thief who stole my cell phone (that I never used) and another girl’s (who didn’t even live there) laptop.

      I was mad at myself for being so trusting (but it was a very trusting campus, almost no one ever locked their doors) and I was irritated at my suitemate for not just introducing her guy (who was perfectly nice) so I would have known the thief wasn’t him.

      Live and learn.

    5. Pomona Sprout*

      Seriously. Does that sound like a sitcom plot or what? I would definitely watch that show.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        This does happen in Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights. The punchline being that as the thieves are making their getaway, somebody rushes out to stop them because “You’ve forgotten the remote!”

    6. ceiswyn*

      I feel called out :)

      I lived in a shared house once, with a guy who was a friend of mutual friends and who none of the rest of us knew very well. And he was a very sociable and generous guy. After a while, we just got used to random people coming and going at all hours, often with random items that he’d loaned them or that they’d loaned him and were taking back. We used to joke that if we encountered a burgler coming downstairs with his computer, we’d probably offer them a cup of tea and a nice chat.

      It’s kind of weird to know that that… could really have happened…

  2. AdAgencyChick*

    I am SO GLAD that the one time I was offered a partially subsidized company housing arrangement, I said no.

    I was working for a small family business. Dysfunctional as hell, but I didn’t know that quite yet. I had found the job through someone who knew my then boyfriend. We broke up just a couple of months after I took the job. The owners of the business also had a small home on the property that was being rented by two other women not associated with the business; they were looking for a third housemate, and the owners encouraged me to take the room at a discounted rate.

    I’m SO GLAD I didn’t agree to do it. It would have shortened my commute to mere steps, and the two other women would have made decent housemates. But that job got toxic REAL fast, and it would have been awkward as hell to quit, since like so many dysfunctional family businesses they were very “we’re a faaaaaaamily!” and when they hired me they essentially told me they were looking for a lifer. I was 22 and too inexperienced to see all the red flags waving.

    1. Scarlet*

      Funny how companies like that want a “lifer” but aren’t willing to provide/do the things needed to make someone want to become a lifer.

  3. Anne of Green Gables*

    Fresh out of undergrad, I worked in Residence Life at a college (not the one I attended). I had an apartment in the basement of the residence hall (dorm). It was just me in the apartment, but the residence hall housed 110 college freshman and 10 student RAs (Resident Assistants), who I supervised.

    I could go on and on about various parts of the experience, but one thing that stands out was that there was extremely rhythmic pounding directly above my bed pretty much every night. Eventually I went upstairs to check it out. One of the student lounges was above my apartment, with the TV on the wall. This was when Dance Dance Revolution was a hot game. And the dance pad was essentially on the floor directly over where my bed was on the floor below. I didn’t sleep much that year, and that was only part of the reason why.

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      I know being an RA isn’t the same as what Allison is talking about – but it’s some hella life experience. I was an RA for a dorm on 800, with 24 RAs, for 2 years. Then I went on to be the RA for (most of) the university’s football team. I also worked the front desk and mail room.

      It was a lot.

    2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      My college had a ban on Dance Dance Revolution in any dorm room that had a dorm room beneath it. So it was allowed in only a handful of rooms total on campus, that were in basements or were over odd common spaces like hallways where the stomping wouldn’t bother whoever was beneath it.

      We had a similar situation where we heard rhythmic thumping and screaming coming from the dorm room downstairs freshman year. We thought people were having rowdy sex. It turned out it was a bunch of engineering majors with an Xbox and a big screen television (a big screen tube TV, so very uncommon in a freshman dorm.)

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        At one point I lived underneath two members of the school golf team. Let me tell you, a golf ball rolling across a floor for putting practice makes a really eerie sound at three AM (this was not when I lived with the homework insomniac).

        My college roommates were “very interesting” it was almost like my own personal sociology experience.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      That would have sent me over the edge. I commend you for sticking it out a year because I couldn’t do it.

    4. Littorally*

      Oh man, I had that same situation in college. My freshman year, the guy who lived right over me was a DDR fanatic. I did not sleep well.

    5. KayEss*

      My roommates and I were the DDR fanatics in college… but we lived on the ground floor and I’m pretty sure the only thing below us was the laundry room. I know the RA didn’t live down there, at least. When we moved on to an off-campus apartment we quit playing because we were on a higher floor.

    6. Nanani*

      That reminds me – I was a student at the same time, and my roommate and I liked to play DDR.
      Our downstairs neighbours also liked to blast bass-heavy music.
      Also, our sleep schedules were not positively aligned.

      Rhythm wars lasted the whole year we were in that room. Good times

    7. BenAdminGeek*

      I had a ska band in the room above me freshmen year and thought that was bad. But this is way worse.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        To answer Phony Genius: I knew a lounge was above me so I wasn’t expecting anything super salacious, but I did wonder what was going on.

        Yes, RA experience is “hella life experience.” I learned lots of crisis management that has come in handy at other jobs. I actually loved it, but decided I was headed to burn-out if I made it a career. I was an RA as a student for 2 years and then a Residence Director for 2 more years–meaning not at the school I attended and I was a student there, it was my actual job to live in the dorm and manage it.

    8. Van Wilder*

      The only reason I know that wasn’t me is that my RD’s apartment was on the other side of the building.

      1. bleh*

        I did Residence life (Hall Director) to pay my way through my MA program and then went back into a residence hall as Faculty in Residence a decade later. The kids setting off the fire alarm at 2:00 am when it was -10 outside were the ones I resented most.

  4. LawLady*

    I lived on an employee house at a state park! It was a lot of fun, all the employees were college kids on summer break, and I have no regrets. BUT I couldn’t imagine doing it in my professional life now. I think it worked because for all of the residents, this was very much just a summer job, not a career. Yes, we still wanted good references, and frankly, I learned a lot that I’ve used in my professional career (I was a waitress and front desk clerk). But fundamentally, we weren’t looking to rise through the ranks or gain particular career skills.

    1. LawLady*

      I lived in one house, with 8 other women (two bedrooms of two, and one bedroom of five) with ONE bathroom. And a puppy. And a bat infestation. Frankly, it was nuts. But I had a lot of fun and it was a good lesson in getting along with others.

        1. LawLady*

          Yeah, several dozen bats lived in the roof, and would pretty frequently end up inside. It’s sortof horrifying now, but it was a decade ago, so I’m 99% certain to not have contracted rabies from it.

          1. londonedit*

            The problem here is less with rabies but more with the fact that bats are protected, so you’d have had to declare their presence and then deal with all sorts of red tape around providing suitable accommodation for them!

            1. Alston*

              and in Massachusetts (at least) you can only evict them during 2 months of the year. Can’t kick em out in winter because it’s too cold. Can’t in spring or early summer because it’s bat breeding time. Thank God we found them just before the eviction window started.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I love bats, I can’t even be mad. With their dangerous poos and all. Bats *swoon*

            1. soon to be former fed really*

              Bats are nasty, spread Ebola and other viruses deadly to humans, not only rabies. Ugh and yuk, don’t understand bat love at all.

              1. MJ*

                That’s because you don’t know bats.

                A single bat can consume as many as 500 insects in just one hour, or nearly 3,000 insects every night. A colony of just 100 little brown bats can consume more than a quarter of a million mosquitoes and other small insects each night! Big brown bats eat thousands of cucumber beetles, June bugs, stink bugs, and leafhoppers and can prevent the hatching of millions of corn rootworms by devouring the adult beetles. This means bats help foresters and farmers protect their crops from pests.

                Over 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination. Without bats, we wouldn’t have bananas, avocados and mangoes to enjoy. Bats also help spread the seeds of nuts, figs and cacao — you know what chocolate comes from.

                I would rather have bats around me – with fewer mosquitoes and more chocolate and mangoes – than not.

        1. LawLady*

          Yeah, we made it work because the bedroom of five (which I was in) were all restaurant workers, mostly on morning shift. So we kept the same hours. And the bathroom had 2 showers. So it did mean we spent ALL our time together, but it wasn’t really too much of a bother to be in a five person room.

          1. Lizzo*

            I suppose if you’re on the same schedule and the bedroom is limited to sleeping (as opposed to studying or “hanging out”, this would be very manageable…assuming nobody snores. ;-)

            1. Artemesia*

              I slept on a sleeping porch with 70 other people in college and you can guarantee that some subset snored and there were not white noise machines back in the day. Many a night I was lying awake at 2 am surrounding by snorting sleepers.

            2. Clewgarnet*

              I spent a few months crewing a tall ship, with around twenty of us sleeping crammed into one fo’c’sle. All on different watches, so people coming in/going out every four hours, complete with changing from/to pyjamas to/from whatever you needed to wear on deck, which could be anything from shorts and a t-shirt to full foul-weather gear.

              There’s always somebody who snores, and somebody who can’t climb into their bunk without standing on the person below, and somebody who leaves their shoes in the middle of the very narrow aisle so whoever’s going out for the morning watch at 4am falls over them…

              It’s amazing how quickly you get used to it and learn to sleep through anything.

          2. memyselfandi*

            See my comment above about a family of 10 with one bathroom. We also slept 3 to a room. You learn to share space and it is a good lesson to learn. It can also be great fun.

          3. soon to be former fed really*

            A private homebody person like me would have been desperate to escape that situation. To each her own, but I must have my own space.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Yeah, sharing a room for more than a night or two, especially with multiple people, is my idea of hell. A No Exit sort of hell.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I’d forgotten all about this until I read your post – I spent my summer after high school staying in the employee bunkhouse at a dude ranch south of Yellowstone Park. A literal bunkhouse, with separate rooms for the boys and the girls, double-decker iron-frame bunkbeds for all. It was the first time I’d been away from home for an extended period, and there were some ups and downs – it’s where I learned that I was a lousy waitress, and spent the rest of my stint in housekeeping with occasional bits clearing tables, but it’s also where I got to hang out around the campfire with the gang, songs and exaggerated tales of romantic exploits and the occasional beer (I wasn’t big into beer at the time, which was probably just as well at age 18). There was a roof-deck behind our bunkroom that was broad and flat, and made a great place to hang out and tan (um, the 1960s – lying in the sun slathered in nothing but optional vegetable oil was considered a GOOD thing). Got a crush on The Guy With The Guitar, and another on the Cool Guy With The Motorcycle Who Worked at the Ranger Camp Up The Road.

      The living conditions pretty much fade from memory; oh, I remember the actual bunks, from which my boss had to wake me on my first morning because I’d misunderstood when I was supposed to start work (oops). But I have no memory at all of bathroom facilities, and fairly little of food. The bussing-tables part of the job was a bit hectic, but the housecleaning of the various cabins wasn’t bad – that kind of rote, repetitive activity that I could do on my own, refreshing after spending all that time in company with others. And I have zero memory of what the wages were, or whether they were remotely fair. (The waitstaff got tips and I *think* they shared with the bussers, and sometimes people would leave tips in the cabins, but it wasn’t a regular thing.)

      One thing that does stand out: that was the summer of the first moon landing, and I got to watch it on TV in the great room with the rest of the staff…

      1. LawLady*

        Our experiences sound super similar! Though mine were in the early aughts. I was a front desk clerk, but then someone else was a terrible waitress, so I became a waitress/desk clerk. And then I ended up helping some with the park’s horses, when rangers weren’t available.

      2. Lily C*

        Another camp staffer here, but in the early 2000s during college, and outside of Yosemite. I worked in the dining hall, rotating through bussing, serving, and working in the dishroom, and shared a room in the girl’s bunk house with 2-3 others. The two main staff bunkhouses were Upper Shang[ri-La]/Heartbreak Hotel for the boys, and Lower Shang[ri-La]/Graceland for the girls. Two stories and 8 rooms per building, with a laundry room around the back of each. We only got one radio station, the Wolf (country), and otherwise rotated through CDs in the dishroom stereo. Everyone was pretty good about locking their doors, but the windows were hilariously easy to pop out if you forgot your key or your roomie feel asleep with the deadbolt shot. Shockingly, the bunkhouses were NOT mice infested, but we had to be careful of rattlesnakes during the day and bears at night. I remember lots of “have you seen my missing sock” signs in the laundry room. As far as I can remember, everyone mostly got along, and there was lots of staying up late watching movies, summer hookups, and low-level bike stealing/hiding shenanigans. Those were some of the most exhausting but fun weeks I’ve ever had. It’s also where I had the most succinct anti-harassment training lecture from a boss: If something you say or do offends someone, it doesn’t matter if you were “just kidding”. Knock it off, no second warnings.

      3. Mel (Cow Whisperer)*

        Ooh! Your story reminded me of a long-ish trip I had to take with coworkers. I was a non-traditional aged graduate student in my thirties. My advisor and I never really meshed at all – but I agreed to help out on a 3 week field station trip to Puerto Rico prior to switching labs. I went with my advisor, another university professor, a non-traditional aged college student in his late twenties and a traditional aged college sophomore.

        The accommodations at the field station were fine by me – but could be a bit rustic at times because the only working bathroom was in a separate building and the utilities would cut out randomly – and not always the ones you’d expect. Since I was the only woman in our traveling group, I had an entire bunk room to myself while the four guys shared a bunk room separated from mine by a bathroom that was under construction. (Each connecting door into the bathroom could be locked from either side).

        Some fond highlights:
        1) My advisor was having either a hypomanic or manic episode during the trip. He brought nothing he was supposed to, refused to participate in any planning on site and complained that the rest of us were not pulling our weight. Thankfully, the other professor pulled him aside and gave him a firm scolding on the third day when he lost the rest of the team in the forest for 45 minutes – and then blamed us for not keeping up with him at his breakneck pace. The other professor also wouldn’t let my advisor be alone with the three students after that either.

        2) My advisor also declared when we were rapidly meal planning the first day on the Island that he didn’t eat carbs after 3pm – so pretty much everything we could make quickly was off the menu for communal dinners. Thankfully, most of the trip the two university profs were going to be at different parts of the island so we ate chicken, rice and beans for the days they were around and pancakes, spaghetti with sausage, chicken casserole, and assorted stir-fries the rest of the time. The same advisor’s nose was bent out of shape when he realized that the traditional undergrad and I were great cooks – but he’d been getting chicken, rice and beans with minimal flavorings because he refused to eat anything else.

        3) My advisor had broken Spanish skills. So did I – but I worked in a district with a lot of Puerto Rican students so I could understand the accent quite well. After being a jerk to a local shop owner – who I had been nice to a few minutes before – she interrupted him while he was correcting my pronunciation of helado to tell him that I had it right and he was wrong.

        4) My advisor didn’t bring any medications or first aid supplies. The undergrads didn’t either because they believed my advisor would bring them like he said. I’ve been burnt on enough group camping trips by bad planners that I brought one of every OTC medication plus a full first aid kit. The other professor brought a first aid kit as well which was all for the best because my advisor got hurt frequently.

        5)All and all, though, I had it good. The young guys were complaining that my advisor snored – but I figured they were just grousing because he was obnoxious as hell. Then one night, the power was off and I didn’t have the noise of the dehumidifiers and overhead fan on. I could hear my advisor snoring 30 feet away through two walls and two locked doors. By wearing earplugs, I could block him out – but I dunno how any of the guys slept.

        1. Turtlewings*

          Bless that other professor. I can only imagine what a mess you would have found yourselves in if you’d only had your advisor in charge…

  5. AnotherAnon*

    Ahh I worked for several federal agencies in remote areas where housing was provided for staff and interns. On one hand, it can help build some really strong comradery, on the other hand, it brings in a whole new dynamic that can stress relationships and blur professional norms. Also, especially when you’ve got a bunkhouse full of recent college grads: lots of hooking up.

    Much of what Allison describes is not atypical. The situations could definitely be straining, but none of mine were so bad I regret it. In fact, I really loved the experience, but there is no way in hell I’d do it now.

  6. Myrin*

    I just re-read the old threads pertaining to this and am snorting and giggling all over again. I actually remembered the interns you herded, Alison, but I had weirdly completely forgotten about the robbery incident which is the best part! So that was nice.

    Also, Alison, you said in a comment there that you’d see whether someone who had lived there would want to comment on here as well. I’m assuming that’s not the case or you would have mentioned it but did you get in contact with anyone from that time?

    1. Ezzle*

      Since you asked…

      I was one of the interns involved in that incident. The robbery happened on the Saturday following my last weekday in the office, and someone had had a party on the Friday night. So, my roommate and I (both young and working in a foreign country for the first time) were admittedly not in the best condition next morning. That means we were each willing to believe that the other person had let the ‘new guy’ in (to be fair, we were expecting a new male colleague to arrive that day) and didn’t make the connection between the random dude in the house and the broken basement window. And our first response when we established that he was a random burglar dude instead of our actual new housemate was to question each other about whether we shut the front door properly – see above, effects of partying the previous night – rather than to link it to the broken window. It took the actual new guy (older, hadn’t been partying the night before, and calmer because he hadn’t started his day making polite chat with what turned out to be an intruder) to make that link considerably later in the day.

      Also, we didn’t make the guy tea. Sorry to disappoint. He drank half a glass of water, left the other half on the counter, and nobody had dared to move it by the time I left the house for the last time on the Monday.

      The weird thing is, I’ve been laughing at Alison’s retellings of this story for a while now, because it’s pretty hilarious how it has evolved over the intervening years, but I’m now a little bit re-traumatised from typing out my relatively mundane account of what happened. Such is life I guess.

      1. Scarlet*

        Sounds like overall you guys had a lot of fun though! Would you recommend the experience to other interns?

  7. Buni*

    ugh. My flat is run by Local Company, but it’s owned by Head Office, which is legally & financially a separate entity. Local Company had to fight for me to be allowed the flat, do it up themselves (it had been empty for years) and take all financial responsibility. Head Office have to be consulted for any changes to fabric but refuse to pay, claiming that as they are getting ‘no benefit’ from my being there (only Local Company benefits from my presence) it’s on us – a few years ago they replaced every single old, doesn’t-shut-properly window on the whole building except for the six that are my flat.

    Their argument is ‘If Local Company didn’t insist on my living here, they could rent it out publically for market price’ (I’m rent-free). Except the flat can only be reached by coming through the company building, there’s no way for any tenant not to have the run of the whole place…

    1. WellRed*

      And yet, it remained empty for years, so guess they weren’t too bothered about renting it out.

  8. Kowalski! Options!*

    I started teaching English in 1999 and as part of my first paid gig abroad, scored a job teaching business English with a school in Prague. Housing was provided as part of the deal, and most (maybe 80%?) of the teachers stayed in one of two “tourist” hotels: one west of the downtown core, one in the very south end of the city (inconvenient commute, but lots of green space, and a chocolate factory nearby). I was in the hotel in the south of the city, called the Hotel Dum (pronounced “doom”….)
    The whole experience was very….immersive. Teachers were housed on the top five (I think?) floors, which were not very touristy: Everyone on the floor shared one kitchen (sink) and a lounge, the stovetops only had two settings (off/nuclear), the washing machines took three hours to do one load of clothes, there was asbestos hanging off the ceilings everywhere except the bedrooms, and the elevators were not always reliable. Oh, and did I mention that we had to buy ALL of our drinking water at the local Delvita (Czech version of Food Lion) downstairs because the pipes that supplied city water were disintegrating and considered toxic? In all fairness, though, it was crazy, but fun. Our floors also housed Czech teachers of English, who gladly taught us the ins and outs of Czech life; there were lovely hiking trails nearby, and when the winds blew out of the south, the smell wafting up from the chocolate factory was amazing.
    In retrospect, I’m really glad that I had housing set up for me when I moved over there, because I ended up being totally useless at learning the language. But at the same time, I was even more glad when I got to take over a friend’s lease on a house nearby, and leave the Dum forever.
    (Shoutout to all of you who happened to teach in Prague and know the place yourselves!!)

    1. LawLady*

      “Immersive” is exactly how I’d describe my work-provided housing situation. And mine was also run down in much the way yours was. I think part of the reason I look back at it fondly is that I knew it was a short term job, so it felt like a fun adventure. Whereas if I thought I’d be in that situation long term, I think things that felt like “ha, nuclear stove top, what a trip!” would feel more like “I live in hell, there’s the flames.”

      1. Kowalski! Options!*

        I vaguely remember that most of the Americans and Canadians who were there long-term ended up buying microwaves. And the British and Irish teachers had a real talent for finding the best inexpensive places for dinner.

    2. Three Flowers*

      “The stovetops only had two settings (off/nuclear)” :D

      My seasonal shared-housing experience included laundry facilities where the machines had been bought used from laundromats and were probably 20 years old. The dryers were gas-powered, and I remember at orientation my first summer one of the returning staff introduced the newbies to the dryers–two “normal”, and one where the heat settings were, according to him, “none, high, and INFERNO”. He was not wrong. I believe that dryer eventually caught fire.

      1. Lady Curmudgeon*

        Like many washing machines I encountered while teaching ESL in Asia: twist or braid, aka maim or kill.

        1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

          My clothes were decimated in Asia..and from hanging them in heavy pollution over the street… But it was so worth it!

          1. Chinook*

            You got hang them outside? I think I was housed in the only apartment building Japan without that ability. Laundry day consisted if me stringing everything inside my tiny, one room apartment. I also may have used one of my lesson plans to have the housewives describebhow they do laundry and use a washing machine that hooks up to a sink.

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I stayed at a place in Paris once that didn’t have temperatures on the oven, but instead little pictures of animals. We got a frozen pizza and spent awhile arguing whether we should set it to tiny pig for pepperoni or tiny cow for cheese. The place looked like it had been last re-fitted in the 1970’s so the oven was pretty old, but I have never heard of another one set up like that.

        1. Jackalope*

          Lived in a country for awhile where the ovens had 2 temperatures on the dials: 1/2 and 1. 1 was higher than 1/2, but the Amy varied from oven to oven. One of the odd side effects of this for me was learning how to estimate food temps and no longer needing to look at the recommended temp for baking because I can guess and usually guess right.

          1. nymitz*

            I have a cookbook which gives temperature estimates for your oven based on how long you can hold your hand inside it before it starts to burn.

            That cookbook was a product of employer owned housing, actually: I was the manager of a Peace Corps regional house – think dorm RA, but in West Africa and with only about 20 post-college residents who would drop in/out on irregular schedules for a day or two a month.

            There was this one time. Well, there were lots of times. But there was this ONE time when we decided to get a turkey for Thanksgiving. Due to where we lived, the turkey had to be brought from a city 15 hours drive away. This was not a food safety / storage issue, because the bird was alive, but it sure was a transportation issue. Long story short, the turkey arrived the day after Thanksgiving, and the decision was made to keep him until next year, so someone had to feed him and deal with turkey poo in the courtyard.

            There was an attempt to do smoked pork for 4th of July, too. Turned out the pig was pregnant, so she also had to wait for next year. We had quite the menagerie for a while. And then we had barbecue.

    3. Ruthie*

      OMG, the Hotel DOOOOM! I lived in Prague around the same time, and briefly lived in that neighborhood. We walked past the Orion chocolate factory all the time. We also shopped in that Delvita / Food Lion… we called it the Lev Jidla (direct, though probably wrong, translation of “lion of food”). We had our own housing nightmares in Prague, including the landlord who illegally rented us a flat while neglecting to mention that he ALSO rented it to another couple. Who only spoke Czech, while we only spoke English at the time, so it took quite a long time to figure out what had happened. No stories about company housing… just wanted to say Hotel DOOOOM, woohoo!

    4. Scarlet2*

      Hah I’ve been living in Prague for 7 years and I hear you on the language… Even though I already speak 2 foreign languages (and have notions of a bunch of others), Czech is like a cruel golem laughing at my pitiful (and numerous) attempts to learn it.

  9. introverted af*

    Where are all my dorm resident assistants at?
    For real though, I’m glad I did it for 3 years because I got out of collge without debt and I do recommend it…with a disclaimer. It’s not for everyone, and it’s also not a good fit for every academic program.

    The worst/craziest thing on my floor is a toss up between the young woman that bit someone or the guy that got knocked out after getting drunk and telling another resident that they deserved the abuse they had gone through. He went on to be an RA though, so he’s probably the crazier story.

    1. Anonacoon*

      I once caught a soon-to-be reality star pulling the fire alarm for our dorm. Her BFF, also a reality star, was one of my residents. The offender got right up under my chin and screamed, “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”

      No? But I DO know it’s a misdemeanor to falsely pull the fire alarm, and if someone gets hurt as a result, it becomes a felony.

      1. Quill*

        Woooow. And I say this as someone who moved into the all girls’ dorm specifically because the other three were all close enough to be considered “connected” in case of fire (one shared walls with another and the third was at one point 6 feet away from the other) so if one fire alarm got tripped all three buildings evacuated…

        1. Anonacoon*

          It was a weekly+ occurrence, and a LARGE dorm – which is probably why she did it. She was visiting her BFF and likely was dared by the other students on the floor.

          The one time we had an ACTUAL fire (the trash compactor caught on fire) everyone got out quickly and in a fairly orderly fashion. Practice makes perfect, I guess.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I lived in that circumstance my freshman year (I wasn’t the RA, but did live just across the hall from her). In one semester we had 10 false fire alarms….most by one person. That person wasn’t allowed back after the semester ended at least.

            1. GammaGirl1908*

              Snort. I went to school at a place where it was not at all unusual to pull the fire alarms for fun … or for anger. I lived for 2 years in a dorm populated by a lot of athletes, so it was not at all unusual for me to be standing around in the snow with bells blaring at 4 o’clock in the morning because the hockey team had lost 6-2. My roommate learned to go to sleep at her boyfriend’s place in another dorm after bad losses.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Oh, this person believed (and said out loud to the fire dept after the last one she caused)
                “Oh, I thought that was the cooking timer”

                FACEPALM

                Yes, she thought the fire alarm for the whole dorm building was her own personal cooking timer.

          2. ThePear8*

            My dorm was in an old building, we had lots of false alarms because the alarms would trip easily. If someone so much as burned some food in the kitchen, it went off.

            1. Nanani*

              Anecdotally, a lot of “false alarms” in my dorm were triggered by pot smoke.
              Not sure whether the alarms have been recalibrated now that it’s legal, or whether they can just smoke outside in public now and not trigger the alarm.

              1. MusicWithRocksIn*

                In collage I learned that the fumes from a fire extinguisher will set off a fire alarm. They will also alarmingly make the hallway look like it’s filled with real smoke. It was also the time I learned that if there was a real fire my roommate would have died because over ten minutes of panicked knocking and screaming on her door + fire alarm noise did not wake her up. Also the day I learned I hated the boys next door.

                1. Works in IT*

                  We had one fire alarm in the middle of winter. It was actively snowing, it was the middle of the night, most of us were in pajamas and whatever shoes we could throw on on our way out the door…. and one poor girl who was taking a shower when the alarm rang, and was soaking wet, in a towel and flipflops and nothing else. Stopping at her room to grab dry clothes was not an option for her, as we were all told that it would be a massive fine if we weren’t out of the building before the fire department arrived, and they were close. Someone eventually gave her their jacket.

              2. I'm just here for the comments*

                My freshman year some students set off fireworks on the first floor of our dorm in the middle of the night in WINTER (in Massachusett). My roommate and I grabbed our jackets and sneakers on the way out but others were not so lucky.

                1. I'm just here for the comments*

                  By “not lucky” I mean they were stuck wearing thin pjs and sandals in the snow. No one died or was harmed.

                2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  At least they had clothes of some sort on. My person who kept setting off the fire alarm set off their last one in 20 degree weather – and yup we had the token naked soapy dude (this guy did come out naked as the day he was born in protest of the many fire alarms). It was a very interesting half hour.

                  (This was very unusual weather for FL, normally even in December it’s not that cold.)

              3. Beth Jacobs*

                I mean, cigarettes have always been legal but smoking them in dorms hasn’t been allowed since the fifties. And yes, they do set off the fire alarms and you will get in trouble.

            2. londonedit*

              My university halls were pretty modern, and being in London they had quite sophisticated fire alarms (it was also linked straight to the fire brigade and there’s a rule that for a building of that size in London, two fire engines will attend if the fire alarm goes off). We were always having to trudge outside at 4am because people had come back drunk (drinking age is 18 here, don’t panic) and attempted to make toast or put chicken nuggets under the grill or whatever.

    2. Junimo the Hutt*

      I had a PA job off campus one day that I was excited about because it had to do with my major. Earlier that morning I had been woken up by people shouting for one of my residents at 5 a.m. I scolded them to keep it down and went back to sleep.

      Welp. Going down the stairs for breakfast later proved interesting. First landing: a bunch of political lawn signs had been left in a pile. Okay, sure, not the weirdest thing. Second landing: my resident. In only a pair of jeans, passed out. I feel okay telling this story because she was fine, but at the time there was some panicking on my part. Ambulance called, etc. etc. Everything wound up okay, but it took a lot of time and paperwork and I was two hours late to the set.

      The sleaziest part of this was that the guys on the set, who were cool about me calling in to report that I’d be late because I mentioned the ambulance, wanted all the details of the topless college student. I’m not in that industry anymore, and I don’t really miss being an RA much.

      1. Shell*

        Much of my career I’ve had housing provided. It could be good but when it was bad, it was BAD. I’ve had nice housing at most places, some were small. The worst part was being on cal 24/7. I never really had time off. Some employers would be very intrusive in my private life and give unsolicited advice and opinions. At 23, I tolerated it. Now, I would say myob real quick. Quitting was awkward, i usually tried to get out as quickly as possible. And it was very hard to take a sick day or go for an interview.

    3. MeTwoToo*

      I woke up in my freshman dorm in the middle of the night to the fire alarm only to run into the hall and find our RA screaming “NO!” at the top of her lungs. Turns out the town tornado siren had gone off and all the RA’s were going floor by floor and sending everyone into the basement. Only, someone decided the fire alarm would wake up everybody at once. It did, and half the building fled into the open courtyard. Luckily they managed to get everyone back inside, literally minutes before the tornado ripped the gigantic oak out of the middle of the courtyard.

      1. Lizzo*

        Holy crap.

        People’s brains do strange things when they’re in panic mode. Glad the outcome wasn’t worse for y’all.

    4. Pamela Adams*

      RA-dom is a good lead-in for careers in student affairs or advising; once you’ve done that, nothing can surprise you.

    5. Lizzy May*

      I have so many RA stories because I did it for three years.
      -Caught residents who both had roommates having sex in the shower
      -Had residents access the electrical panel and turn off power to the building. We locked it after that.
      -Residents broke beer bottles and delicately laid them out to completely cover the hall
      -Had two residents from different buildings get into a fight. One of them ripped the other’s hair extensions right off of her head.
      -Caught a resident throwing beer bottles onto the road outside of the building and he got in trouble. To retaliate, he threw a lit firecracker into my room. It went off and it was so loud and bright that I couldn’t see or hear for a few minutes and there was so much smoke that the fire alarm went off.
      -Had a resident get a stomach bug and throw up an entire personal sized pizza on the floor of the women’s bathroom. She wanted to clean it up herself she felt so bad.
      -Had a poo-er who never flushed the toilet
      -Had a drunk resident try to pull the fire bell off the wall because he didn’t want to go outside and get into a fight with the fire department. With pushing and shoving. I was really annoyed with the fire fighters on that one because they went in so angry and made that situation worse.

      But it was also great. I had residents who I got to see grow. I played a role in creating a community that gave these young adults space to be on their own for the first time. I hosted some really fun events and dealt with some very serious situations that tested me. I’m a much stronger and more composed person because of that time.

      1. SpecialSpecialist*

        I’m getting a visual of an entire whole personal pan pizza coming out of somebody’s mouth.

        Kinda like that dog who had very carefully hoarded a handful of tater tots in his mouth and very gently spit each one out completely whole.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Ugh the rule at my school was that they would not send Housekeeping to the communal bathrooms on weekends if someone made a mess in them. This was a form of collective punishment for overindulging at parties. If someone got wasted Friday night and ruined the bathroom, your choices were to aggressively peer pressure shame that person into cleaning it up, or find another bathroom to use for the weekend.

          1. talos*

            For me, this wasn’t a punishment, just a fact.

            Someone threw up on the wall in one of the two stalls on a Friday night once, and it smelled so bad that we closed it off and the 30-person floor had one stall for the rest of the weekend. That was miserable.

            We also ran out of toilet paper a few times, because the TP was in a locked room that only the housekeepers could get into.

      2. Anonacoon*

        We should write a book.

        – I was stalked by the BF of the girl who lived across from me, for YEARS after I was an RA. Police were involved.
        – Had an entire fraternity break into a resident’s room and beat him with belts and things. Police were involved. Fraternity was disbanded.
        – Twice weekly naked homeless sleeping in the elevators. One repeat guest had this AMAZING leopard print tattoo. Police were regularly involved.
        – Had a resident get in an argument with a fire extinguisher. Broke the glass with his face and had deep lacerations. Blood everywhere. Police and FD were involved.
        – Underage drinking galore. I’m very good at first aid and recognizing alcohol poisoning. Life Skills.
        – Lots of NSFW stories. So many. Police may or may not have been involved.
        – One semester, the girls on my floor had an anorexia contest. It got so bad they’d run the stairs all night, wrapped in saran wrap. Three had to go to rehab. They did get the help they needed.
        – Someone landed a helicopter on the roof. So many police involved, I can’t even.
        – Someone managed to grow a 6′ tall pot plant in the middle of the courtyard. We kept smelling it, but couldn’t find the source because it blended in. Called the police once we figured it out.

        And so on. There’s some more outlandish stuff, but it’s identifiable. I know some of my co’s read this site – but like you said, there was SO MUCH good to it all as well. Building communities, lifelong friendships, helping people be successful away from home.

      3. Rachel in NYC*

        “Residents broke beer bottles and delicately laid them out to completely cover the hall”

        Delicately laid them out? Well that was nice of them? Nope just strange. And wrong. Possibly psychotic?

        1. Lizzy May*

          It was to punish the other RA on duty for writing someone up for having a bottle in the hall. And I was later told that they laid them out so that it would be quiet and we wouldn’t hear until it was too late.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Craziest things I saw while in student housing:

        – the underage drunk who is sooo drunk that they mistook a female possum with babies as a desperately starving cat he had to rescue right then (it was three am, Sunday night, right in front of the Area Coordinator’s door – she was not amused)

        -the guys who built their own personal smoke machine in their room, which blew up in the middle of the night (My next door neighbors when I roomed with homework insomniac)

        -the folks on the third floor who while extremely drunk decided to make maltov cocktails in plastic two liter bottles in the middle of a dangerously dry and hot summer (fortunately the bottles didn’t break and nothing caught fire, but Campus Police were NOT AMUSED)

        -the chemistry student who made the liquid formula of ‘PopIts’ (those things you throw on the ground and make a popping sound around the Fourth of July) and painted it on the locks and doorknobs of every dorm room in a particular residence hall because he’d been dumped by his girlfriend (who lived in the building in question)

        -ten minute microwave popcorn girl (yes – that’s right, ten full minutes) which will start a fire

        -homework insomniac (my first roomie) who would blast the music with every light on to start all homework assignments at midnight the night before the due date

        -the cherry bomb in the elevator the night before move out (fortunately not the building I lived in)

        I know there were more, but they are not coming to mind at the moment.

    6. Phil*

      I went to boarding high school and our RAs were seminary students. And clueless. We would sneak into town every night, smoke dope and at one point even ran a pirate radio station. The school would have been better of with criminology students.

    7. MusicWithRocksIn*

      Wait – were you my RA? I got bit by a suitemate while trying to prevent her from hurting herself with scissors in a stairwell during my first month at collage. I had to get so many shots because of that! There was also a girl on my floor who smuggled her cat in, then left for the weekend and we had to get the RA to unlock the door so someone could feed it.

      1. introverted af*

        Unfortunately not, and tbh that sounds like a better incident to have to deal with.

        The woman I had liked to start fights when she got super drunk (which she did regularly until she was kicked out), so she went down the men’s hallway on our floor banging on peoples’ doors late at night at random. One guy came out with his girlfriend, ready to throw down, but his girlfriend tried to stop it, and she was the one who got bit. I had to find out about all of it second hand from the residents too, because I wasn’t on duty that night and the managers for the building didn’t even tell me when they kicked her out.

    8. Collette*

      I was an RA for two years. It was so long ago, the only incident I remember the student who got high and threatened me with a knife. That was my last semester as an RA. I just couldn’t after that.

    9. Alexis Rose*

      I was an RA and the weirdest thing to me about that job was the fact that they provided almost zero training to us in what to do in most situations. For example, they implied (without directly saying) that we shouldn’t confiscate drug paraphernalia or drugs because then we would be in possession of drugs ourselves. So we’d do room inspections and confiscate incense (banned by college policy), while not touching gigantic bongs and bags of pot (totally illegal at the time). I didn’t personally care if people smoked pot or not, but it was…very strange.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        That is strange! I got lots of training, and much of it has come in handy in other professional jobs. And when I did room inspections (which was not very often) someone on the college security staff was with me, it wasn’t me alone.

      2. Anonacoon*

        Samsies.

        Also there was a lot of implication that we should not defend ourselves. Just a lot of wishy-washy “remove yourself from the situation” language. Not helpful if you’re a woman being attacked on by drunken men. Thankfully, I’m huge.

      3. Social Commentator*

        What decade was this, and were room inspections common, or in response to a specific concern? At my college no one was allowed to enter our dorm rooms unless there was a legitimate safety concern.

        1. mandassassin*

          When I was in school (05-10), RAs/campus PD could enter for reasonable suspicion. However, during fire drills/false alarms, they had to check every room to make sure everyone evacuated as required – my RA directly told us that those checks included a plain sight inspection for drugs/booze/disallowed cooking appliances/etc. They couldn’t open drawers or move things, but if you left it out it was fair game.

    10. Construction Safety*

      RA for 2 1/2 years, I wanted a single room. 60’s style dorms two wings with cafeteria in the middle; each wing had 3 floors; each floor had ~26 rooms & two communal bathrooms. Been a long time, but
      -the guy who shot an arrow the full length of one of the halls & stuck it in the wooden fire door at the end.
      -the guys who accidentally set a mattress on fire & pushed it out their 3rd floor window.
      -the guy who thought the snow drift was big enough to cushion his jump from his 3rd story window. It wasn’t.
      -the guy on the 3rd floor who brought the engine for his VW upstairs (no elevator) & rebuilt it in his room.
      -the guy who collected several of his nearby floormates’ keys & made a master for himself.
      – We had a “big ” pot bust. No smoking in the rooms anymore. Two smoking guys ordered a pizza (go figure) & the driver who delivered it was an RA from a different floor.
      -A couple of guys saved their roaches for about two months; took a popcorn popper apart & put a roach between each of the little heating coils. When they plugged it in, it looked like a 60’s era coal fired power plant. You literally could not see across the room for the pot smoke.
      -the guy who figured out which breaker ran which room so he could wire up a 220v air conditioner in his window.
      -the roommates who had a tiff & divided their room in half with plywood.

      1. NVHEng*

        Was this at MTU? When I was there a guy I knew jumped into a “snow drift” from his 2nd or 3rd floor dorm in Wads… But there was a truck buried in the snow. He was an idiot, and he was drunk.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think I saw all the news stories about these drunk jumpers when they went on spring break in the late 90’s to Daytona Beach (had family there). There was a running tally every year of the ‘balcony divers’ (replace snow bank with hotel pool). Yes the results were as uniformly bad as the snow bank idiots, and yes counting how many there were every year was very black/morbid.

  10. AutoEngineer57*

    I actually had a good experience with subsidized housing!

    I was working as a summer co-op at Big Automotive Company in Midwestern Town. They provided the housing for a small amount out of my paycheck. The apartment was furnish, clean, and comfortable.

    My roommate had moved in before me and to my shock, left me the master suite. We were both quiet, kept our food separate, and cordial. After moving on, we actually met up about a year later for dinner in Big East Coast City. It was nice :)

    1. EEngineer*

      I’m a co-op for Big Automotive Supplier in Midwestern Town which is close enough to home where I can commute, but my friend spent last summer as an intern for Big Automotive Company and she had a similar experience with her housing. I have fond memories of visiting her last summer and going on evening walks after work. She’s interning again this summer but unfortunately visits are not in the question anymore considering everything going on!

      1. AutoEngineer57*

        Interesting! I wonder if it is the same Big Automotive Supplier…

        I now work at Other Big Automotive Supplier in different Midwestern State, and I know that they do not provide housing for co-ops.

  11. The School Admin*

    I lived in several of these situations after college. One was shared national park housing while studying prairie dog behavior and another was on an agricultural education center. The biggest issues were around food…whose food was whose, were we allowed to eat the food provided to programs, when you made dinner communally who got to eat the left overs, food police who didn’t believe that food containing sugars or that were non organic were not allowed.

    1. LawLady*

      I lived at a state park, and one of my roommates would sometimes kill snakes, skin them, and keep the meat in the communal fridge, which drove another roommate around the bend.

      1. Nobby Nobbs*

        Is it bad that my first thought was that at least he was using the meat, instead of just killing snakes cause he was scared and leaving them on the ground?

        1. LawLady*

          Yeah, it didn’t bother me. We pretty much had to kill snakes that were around the guest cabins, and my roommate always volunteered and then I’d come home to a snake skin spread out on the front porch and snake meat soaking in salt water on the counter. She was an interesting roommate! And rattlesnake tastes pretty decent (though the bones are a pain).

        2. Rachel in NYC*

          My boss hunts and will sometimes bring in things like squirrel stew. I’m not crazy about hunting but he’s not hunting as an activity. He’s using what he’s hunting and I think that’s great. (He also uses a compound bow typically to hunt so very environmentally friendly.)

          Definitely the first person you want to pick for your team if the world is ending- he can hunt, fish, garden, and preserve what he grows.

      2. Sparrow*

        I think expecting him to get a small dorm fridge for his snake meat would’ve been perfectly reasonable…

        1. LawLady*

          The roommate was… earthy. She grew up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, regularly hunting and butchering her own meat. I don’t disagree that the dorm fridge would have been a reasonable ask, but she was just absolutely dumbfounded that someone would have an issue with snake meat.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            Most people yell “SNAAAKE!!” because they’re scared. She’d yell “SNAAAKE!!” because she was hungry?

            Honestly, I’m impressed. Would not think there was anyone who would appreciate random snake visitors, and yet!

      3. Jean (just Jean) Seeking Electronic Pest-Repelling Devices*

        Admittedly I have my own quirks about eating meat, but YUUUUUUUUUUUCK.
        *Other people* can eat snake meat, but I’m leaving town with no forwarding address.

      4. buffty*

        I had a coworker who did this, and put the snake in the foodservice cooler at work. Health department regulations do not allow that, regardless of whether it is a snake or last night’s leftovers in Tupperware.

      5. CupcakeCounter*

        We had a roommate in college who went away to a horse therapy camp as part of her curriculum and came back with a few cowboys who shot a couple squirrels in the backyard, skinned them, and made stew. We were in the middle of a city so…yeah

  12. Quill*

    When I was a junior one of my friends was my RA. I didn’t end up involved in most of the shennanigans, based on her advisement that if I made no trouble she wasn’t going to bother me, but I did witness her quietly become resigned to the fact that my roommate was keeping a pair of pet rats, and after she had to mediate a dispute about shaving detritus in the showers she ended up popping in and begging to play with them.

    1. I'm just here for the comments*

      A friend’s roommate snuck in her pet prairie dog. It was cute but territorial. Pet rats seem like the better choice.

      1. JustaTech*

        My school’s rule was “no cats, no dogs, it has to have a cage/tank and if it freaks out your roommate it has to go”.

        Somehow this rule managed to include a pair of Flemish Giant rabbits (bigger than almost all cats, bigger than most small dogs), who most assuredly did not live in a cage, unless you defined the entire dorm room as a “cage”.
        But they were quiet and chill and only ate a few computer cables, so no one felt the need to turn them in.

        1. I'm just here for the comments*

          My school’s rule was basically fish tanks only, and there was a size limit. So many pet cats on campus. And the prairie dog was definitely not allowed, and it’s cage was HUGE but my friend wasn’t bothered. I briefly considered sneaking my pet snake to campus but there were too many logistics to work out. Rabbits are territorial as well (I’ve had two who were sticklers for maintaining boundaries) so good thing they were chill.

        2. Carpe Librarium*

          Not cables, ‘spicy grass’.

          I swear rabbit feet have insulative properties, the number of live cables my brother’s rabbit munched should have used up 3 cats-worth of lives.

  13. Beth*

    Back when I was in grad school, I did a couple of summers at one of the summer Shakespearean festivals. This wasn’t Ashland, which has its own complex: the theatre was on a college campus, which the festival used during the summer break. We were housed in off-campus student housing: an apartment building with units intended for six students each, housed two to a room, with a shared kitchen. For the festival, we were housed three to a unit, so nobody had to share a bedroom. The apartment complex was in decent condition, no vermin, a few blocks’ walk from the theatre. There was even a modest swimming pool.

    During this festival, for the first six weeks, the actors rehearsed and the tech staff built everything for three full-scale productions and a greenshow. This meant everyone worked 12-hour days, 6 days a week. Once the shows opened, the running crew worked about 6 hours a day, 3 days a week; so if you were build crew only, you were dog meat, but if you were running crew, it balanced out.

    Men and women were not housed in the same unit, and all the beds were single beds, but the most common activities in our few hours of leisure were heavy drinking and bed-hopping. A good friend of mine always got a third-floor apartment, so she could sit out on the balcony, drink, and watch the to and fro traffic.

    It was fun, by and large. Given how poorly we were paid, the free housing was a real boon. I was fortunate enough to have innocuous roommates (well, unit mates) — the best year was the one when one of my roommates was one of the festival musicians. She and her boyfriend usually practiced in our unit when they weren’t in active rehearsal, and the free concerts were GORGEOUS.

    1. Funbud*

      I studied theater and did a brief stint as a paid intern with a regional, equity theater company the year after I graduated. I ended up getting fired (probably deservedly), left the theater and never went back. I’ve never even done community theater. Apparently the “theater bug” bit me and then died. Your description of the hours worked reminds me of why that life wasn’t for me. In my soul, I’m a 9-5 person. 8:30 – 4:00 when I can get away with it…LOL

    2. Sarah*

      Not really on topic but you have just made me realise that Ashland is a real place, not (just) a fictional setting for a series of murders solved by a pastry chef.

  14. ThatGirl*

    This is not quite the same, maybe? But my dad is (was – he’s retired) a pastor, and for about 7 years we lived in the parsonage at our church outside Philly, which was directly attached to the church building. The first floor was the church kitchen, offices and fellowship hall (the sanctuary and Sunday School classrooms were in the attached adjacent space), and we lived on the second and third floors. Until I was 5 or 6 (the exact timeline is fuzzy, but I remember both before and after) there wasn’t even an extra set of doors between us and the first floor so people would just wander upstairs into our family kitchen… my dad finally insisted on enclosing the stairway and putting in a lockable door. But even then the phone lines were intermingled, people would call at all hours looking for help, asking questions, etc. To this day it’s a wonder to me my parents put up with that as long as they did, but when I was 8 we finally moved a few miles away to a house of our own.

    1. Sleepless*

      My brother is a pastor. He just moved out of the parsonage into his own house a couple of years ago, after 20 years or so. I have no idea how he put up with it for so long. Of course, he’s a million times more patient with people stomping on boundaries than I could ever be.

    2. LawLady*

      I was friends with our pastor’s daughter growing up, and oh man, living in the parsonage was quite an experience. On the one hand, our church was a lovely community, and I think she grew up feeling like she had a whole village that cared for her. But on the other hand, so many people think “the church owns the parsonage and I’m a deacon, I totally have a right to show up on a Saturday afternoon.” Total lack of privacy.

      1. ThatGirl*

        yep, at least once we moved into a house people couldn’t literally just show up. and the town and neighborhood we lived in had its share of low-income and homeless people who my dad very much wanted to help, but 9 p.m. on a school night is not a great time to bang on your local church’s front door.

    3. WhatDayIsIt*

      My mom had to fight with the church to allow her to buy her own house. It was a whole thing that the deacons had to approve before they let her live in her own place. Insane.

    4. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      I JUST watched the episode of Queer Eye today where they remade the Atonement church in Philly (the attached parsonage was literally rotting away, poor pastor). Season 5 episode 1 on Netflix!

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        Hometown did a parsonage. But I loved that QE episode- I just wanted to give him a hug.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I loved that episode, he was so sweet.

        Honestly, it’s one thing to live in a parsonage when you’re young and either single or just a couple, but I was 2 when we moved in and my brother was 5 – NOT great with small kids. And the building wasn’t in the best shape; the roof leaked regularly, it had no AC and was hot as hell in the summer, everything was sort of old and worn.

    5. Emilitron*

      Ooof parsonages!
      In my dad’s church, the houses are entirely furnished, but in a very generic sense – every bedroom has bed/dresser set, living room sofa and coffee set, family room sofa set. Every family is different (number/gender of kids, actual personalities, etc) but it’s expected you’ll bring your own bookcases and TVs and accessory furniture, and there’s usually a basement storage room at the church you can tuck unneeded stuff into. But oh wow the hurt feelings!!! If Mrs.M chose the sofa print and you bring your own sofa, she’s against you. If you take down the generic schmaltzy Jesus paintings and hang your own art, your devotion is in question. If you decide to repaint the pink bedroom because your son doesn’t want a pink room, it’s astonishing the number of people who feel entitled to their say in what shade of green!

      1. Funbud*

        There’s a funny scene on this very subject in the 1941 movie “One Foot In Heaven”. Frederic March plays a Methodist Minister and his young bride (Martha Scott) makes the mistake of taking down & hiding the more hideous parsonage decorations donated by the loyal members of his congregation. She learns that lesson fast!

      2. ThatGirl*

        the politics involved in most congregations can be extremely petty.

        I think we furnished our own place? it included appliances but I think most of our furniture was hand-me downs from my grandparents or IKEA.

    6. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

      My husband is a priest and we’re in a situation where it’d be better for my career to be in cities that are also incredibly expensive. With the salaries being offered not really matching the housing costs (he was offered a job in NYC that paid 55k about 12 years ago), we really only can consider churches that have rectories. One he was a finalist in had a semi-attached rectory, in that the rector’s office was attached to the kitchen via a door that opened straight into both, but nothing like what you describe! I don’t know if I could handle that.

      The idea of not having a mortgage or rent is really appealing, though…

      1. ThatGirl*

        The problem – depending on the church/congregation – is that sometimes not having rent or a mortgage means they figure they can pay you that much less too. Oh, it includes housing so you can totally support a family of 4 on $30k a year no problem!*

        *I have no idea if this is what my dad actually made, also it was the 80s, but still

        Anyway, it can definitely be a good thing IF you have enough privacy and your husband is good at boundaries. But definitely your housing should not be accessible to the general public once they’re inside the church building :P

        1. Gumby*

          My church also has a “retirement housing” account for our pastor since he won’t have built up any equity in a house after living in a parsonage. Not that we could pay him enough so he could buy a house in this Bay Area city. We tend to keep our pastors for a long time (20+ years) so that account has enough time to build up a bit before they leave us.

    7. school of hard knowcs*

      Yep, we lived in a ‘wing’ of the church. aka the door from our living room went directly into the sanctuary. We had 2 bedrooms a small living room (kitchen had 1 cabinet and 1 drawer). I was young and thought the whole church was a great place to play. Then a little girl sneaked into my room and broke my only doll. Yeah I don’t hold many grudges, but she is still on the list. The next church we were next door in a separate house, which was so much better. It’s true every person with a problem comes thru your front door. Complaints, weddings, funerals, family disasters. It gives you a different view of the world growing up.

    8. Married to a preacher man*

      I’m a clergy spouse in the UK. Over here it’s very unusual, in my experience, for clergy to live in their own home. A vicarage/manse/rectory is provided, which has to meet the denomination’s standards. They’re unfurnished, except you usually get carpets and curtains, and in our denomination a cooker; we were lucky enough to get a dishwasher as well. They’re not usually attached to the church, and often aren’t even right next to it; we’re about a mile away.

      I get the impression from some of the other comments that clergy in the US are employed and paid by the individual church, who can set the salary – is that right? Over here it’s more common for clergy to be employed and paid by the denomination, with a standard salary, so at least the church can’t mess us around on that!

      1. anonanna*

        Yeah, that’s typically how it works! I’d love to see an AAM post about the unique challenges of ministry because it has so many layers you don’t encounter in secular jobs.
        Not sure if it’s the same in the UK, but a lot of people in the US believe pastors are just money grabbers. (I think a lot of this stems from prosperity pastors, which are unethical). That means people in the congregation almost always think pastors are overpaid, even when it’s usually the opposite- at least at my dad’s church, most of the pastors weren’t paid competitively with market salaries/their education level— not a huge deal for the pastors, because they have what they need and aren’t struggling, but it makes it frustrating when people critique their salary and don’t know the full story.
        I will say there’s a divided on this between white and black churches, at least in the South. Black churches place huge emphasis on pastoral respect and honor- it’s not uncommon for them to call the lead pastor Bishop or the pastor’s wife First Lady. Interestingly, in my dad’s church (which is pretty much an even split between minority and non-minority races), the people that tell him he needs more compensation/public honor are almost always Black. Curious if anyone else has experienced this or can weigh in!

        1. Elizabeth Bennet*

          I’ve seen what a pastor in our church is paid, plus the benefits received, and allllll the 24/7 work that goes into running the church and they’re not paid enough. Our pastor even took a $10,000 pay cut to make the annual budget once. That’s a dedication to the job not often found in the secular side.

          1. anonanna*

            Oh, agreed. It’s definitely a vocation which makes people stick with it. But people who aren’t in that world just don’t understand!

    9. anonanna*

      My dad is a pastor and we haven’t lived in personages for years (I was a baby and don’t remember it!) However, in their early days of Baptist ministry, they were in parsonages. My parents had a Dalmatian named Dotty who decided she didn’t care about the electric fence and the benefits of leaving the yard outweighed getting shocked. So most Saturday nights she’d sneak out and get beer cans from the neighbor’s yard and scatter them across the parsonage yard just in time for Sunday morning…

      1. Hydrangea McDuff*

        My grandpa, who passed away in 1960, was a principal in the 1940s and 50s, mostly in rural schools. Often there was a “teacherage” for him and the family with varying levels of quality and upkeep. I remember my grandma telling how when they moved to the final town they lived in together—at this time they had 6 kids under 12 years old or so—she went to use the teacherage’s kitchen sink and it fell off the wall. She declared they were not staying in that s***hole! My mom, a toddler, learned some new vocabulary that day. They bought their own place shortly thereafter and grandma stayed there for 50 years.

  15. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I worked in Moscow in the early 90s, just after the fall of the USSR. The consulting/wheeler-dealer company that we (a typical DC engineering/contracting company) were supporting had converted a 4-room apartment near Red Square into an office. They kept the back bedroom as an apartment, and if there was just one person in town that person would stay there. So your commute in the morning was literally just down the hallway.

    Of course, the downside is that if you got up late, and some of the local staff was already in the office working, you had to walk past them in your bathrobe to take a shower. And with the time difference back to the US, there was usually a huge roll of paper that had come off the fax machine overnight that was really hard to ignore.

  16. Grits McGee*

    I worked for the National Park Service, in a wilderness area where all of the housing (including traditional single family homes) was owned by the park and the stock was extremely limited. Houses for seasonal employees was gender-segregated, and for some reason tptb had decided that women would be required to share bedrooms, but men would get their own rooms. So each one-bathroom house would be packed with 8 women, while the men’s houses went unoccupied for most of the summer because the majority of them worked in the backcountry and were sleeping under the stars most nights.

    Unsurprisingly, there was a huge scandal a few years later about the rampant sexual discrimination and harassment against female employees , and the park superintendent retired in disgrace.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I would be sneaking into an unoccupied mens’ house to sleep at night. Like a good camper, “leave no trace”

      1. Arielle*

        I did a summer program in high school where we were living in the first floor of a residence hall on a college campus. We had one big communal bathroom which was perfectly adequate, but at some point over the summer I discovered that 1) the entire second floor of the dorm was unoccupied and 2) no one else in my program had figured out there was another bathroom up there. I had a giant private bathroom all summer long.

  17. Bex*

    I had a great company housing experience! It was for a summer stock theatre company where I worked as a carpenter. The whole company lived in one big old mansions, and actors were just crammed into bedrooms but seemed to like it that way. There were only two female tech staff, so we shared a room and happened to get one with a huuuuuge en suite bathroom with Jacuzzi. The kitchen was a problem, very little space and just a regular home-sized fridge with top freezer, but we made do and ate plenty of takeout. One of the company’s sponsors was the sheriff, who owned the local Dairy Queen, so the first week he showed up with a truckload of Blizzards for the house. We are what we could but couldn’t fit the rest in the one little freezer. The next week, he delivered a chest freezer stuffed with Blizzards and he restocked it at least weekly for the rest of the summer.

    1. MCL*

      OMG a never-ending pile of blizzards! That sounds like a dream. I bet you got sick of them eventually, but what a nice gift. :)

  18. Jennifer*

    They made the robber tea! Bwahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    I swear, everyone should have to live in the hood for three months at least. Really hones your survival skills.

    1. CastIrony*

      Well, yesterday, I had to free a kid’s hand from a toy vending machine (the ones that take quarters). It took me a few minutes after he and his party left to realize he was trying to steal a toy, but he didn’t know better, being young and wanting a toy and all.

      Man, was I slow! :D

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Guessing that the kid tried to worm their hand up the prize slot into the toy area of the machine.

        About a year ago we had a toddler actually get all the way into one of those prize machines that has stuffed animals in the local grocery store. Fire dept failed to get him out, but a repair tech from the machine company managed it about ten mins after the fire sept failed to pick the lock. Kid was thrilled because he got a new stuffy but parents were less thrilled with their bill to get him out.

  19. Sabine*

    I had a fantastic experience in shared housing at a volunteer gig one summer. Even with shared bedrooms – I slept in a bunkbed. To be clear, I was 20 and this was only for 3 months, and yeah, some of my roommates drove me nuts, but for the most part I had a great time. It was a very rural area, internet was patchy, and none of us were of drinking age, so we mostly watched the extensive VHS collection that had accumulated. First time I saw 90s classics THE CRAFT and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. I did have an incident with falling into a compost pit but that’s all I need to say about that.

    My recommendations for shared housing like this: contribute even when you’re not asked and leave something fun behind (a book, a puzzle, a DVD). Future residents will thank you. Looking back on it now, I’d give almost anything to be back.

    1. Kimmybear*

      Very similar to me one summer in the 90s. Limited internet, no TV, overnight work hours, the library and video store were our entertainment. Got followed by the police for walking into town at 5am to buy the New York Times (My cutoffs and hiking boots made me look sketchy?) But my boss made great coffee :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Let’s turn that around… what’s the chance they were making sure a single girl without luggage was safe?

  20. Three Flowers*

    I lived in employer-provided housing seasonally for six summers and full-time for almost three years (I worked for a summer camp). For the most part, it was just like having an extremely responsive landlord because I ate lunch or was in a meeting with the property manager almost every day. Which does mean we got rid of the snake in the hot water heater very quickly… Cleaning up after the seasonal staff who lived in employer-provided housing without campers, however, was a nightmare, from “what is this home brewery doing here?” to “the horse barn is not for parties” to “that’s where all the missing dishes went–under Dude X’s bed”. (Dude X’s room was d i s g u s t i n g.) The true highlight was one shared room–a group of 19-year-old men who worked especially odd and exhausting hours and just never. cleaned. anything. and left their dirty laundry behind on move-out–where we probably should have just burned the building down and started over.

    I love these stories when I’m not dealing with them!

      1. Three Flowers*

        Hahaha, it’s kind of anticlimactic (especially without the picture), but sure.

        Relevant background: this camp was located in the southern Appalachians, and at the time I was living in the last house at the end of a campus road next to the woods. Wildlife in human spaces was a fact of life. There was a seasonal cabin across the street that just had a resident black snake who lived on the mantel, we had bear- (and more importantly, raccoon-) proof trash cans, it was nonetheless not uncommon for wildlife to scatter trash overnight, etc. The house I was in was built into a hillside, so it had a ground-level basement/garage with big wood double doors, generally in good shape but they didn’t exactly seal to the ground. Basically dry and secure but you wouldn’t want to keep food down there. The washer, dryer, furnace, hot water heater, etc were in the basement (laundry machines and water tank were in the far corner together).

        So one night I come home pretty late–in the summer I typically worked until between 9:30 and 11, because camp)–and I want to do some laundry. I get my big full (awkward) basket of clothes and go back around the house and into the basement, which is dark. I have pretty good night vision, so my normal routine was to go put the basket on top of the dryer and then double-back and turn on the lights, because I couldn’t tote the basket and pull the cord at the same time. As I’m approaching the machines, I can hear this big rustling noise, and I’m like oh, goodie–but obviously it’s not a large mammal, so I go put the clothes down and then go back and turn on the lights. And I look back over at the machines, and there is this three-plus foot black snake end lashing on the floor next to the washer. (I am mostly “hmm, what do I do about this” with snakes rather than AAAAAAH.) I sorta sidle over to it and I can see that the snake has somehow managed to crawl up under the panel at the bottom of the water heater and got stuck with its head and who knows how much snake inside the machine/under the actual tank, while the rest of the snake is out in the basement, very alive and very unhappy.

        This is how I learned that snakes actually can’t go backward. It’s also how I ended up trying to release it by jamming the nearest stiff long object–which happened to be a prop sword I had confiscated from the theater closet because it wasn’t totally un-sharp and kept making generally unsafe appearances in the crowded dining hall–into the water heater panel to try to pry it open since I didn’t have the appropriate tools to take it off. (Relevant that this was an access panel, not an electrical panel.) So yeah, 11pm, thrashing snake tail, me with a sword wedged in the bottom of the hot water heater, just wanting to go to bed. At the time it was surreal, in retrospect it’s hilarious. I love it when the thrashing snake tail picture recurs in my social media memories.

        I don’t know how it got out–I did not succeed and eventually texted the property manager to ask him to come with actual tools and possibly our natural science teacher/snake friend the next day, but by the time he got there it was gone…wherever snakes go when they were in your basement and now are nowhere to be found. It’s a mystery.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.
          (and thank you for not posting pictures to give me nightmares…I am full blown phobic of the legless, eyelid-less abominations)

        2. No Tribble At All*

          Awwww poor snek! I’ve never thought about the “can’t go backwards” part, but it makes sense that their scales are only smooth in one direction. Amazing that you found a sword(!!!) to use to help rescue the snake.

          My parents’ house is in the woods, and my mom definitely has a particular Snake Scream TM. She’ll then move the snake outside, but she’ll screech every time it moves.

          1. Quill*

            Are you related to me? For years we had a specific garter snake, Daisy, living in a hole under our AC and whenever my mom saw her while they were both out enjoying the garden, people six blocks away knew that mom had seen a snake.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          One of my team members who lives out in the boonies has her three-season screen porch set up as her office during the appropriate three seasons of the year, and as spring wore on and it got warmer, she asked her husband to put a small window fan in one of the windows. He couldn’t find the screws to secure its little wings, so he said he’d grab new ones that weekend and just propped it for the time being. The next morning, she went in with her coffee to sit down at her work computer and found a six foot long black rat-snake wrapped around the monitor staring at her. Her husband got to wrestle it into a pillowcase and drop it off in a wooded area a couple miles away on his way to the hardware store to get new screws. :P

        4. Quill*

          Oh dear, that snake was having a bad day! I’ve only ever have garters (upper midwest) and they’re basically bratty shoelaces.

          1. Three Flowers*

            “Bratty shoelaces” :D

            Black rat snakes, in the right light and of the right size (they never get really fat, but they do get 4-5′ long), look a lot like soaker hoses. One gardens with caution, although rat snakes are lovely creatures when they aren’t cuddling your monitor as above.

          2. Tabby*

            I have fond memories of catching garter snakes. And of boys trying to scare me with them, and me promptly taking the little shoelaces away from them and setting them loose like dude whatever, garter snakes are not poisonous, and likely won’t even bite you — please stop.

  21. Not So Negative Nelly*

    Back in the 90’s I worked for the summer at a small resort in Puget Sound, WA up near the Canadian border. I was 18, it was my first job away from home and I was super shy and insecure. I was a housekeeper living with other housekeepers and we lived in a tiny decrepit house way back on the property. We were shoved in like sardines in a can with bunk beds with one tiny bathroom for 12 females. The house was so bad ivy was growing through the walls. We had zero supervision, zero privacy and cliques formed like on “Survivor.” I was miserable and stuck there until the end of summer.

    1. Sarra N. Dipity*

      My husband possibly worked at the same resort as you did (if it was the one on Orcas), and maybe even for the same summer (he worked in the kitchen, though). It sucked for him as well, but at least he had non-resort-provided housing (crashed with a friend who lived in West Sound).

  22. BonnieVoyage*

    One of my roles at work is to manage a number of apartments owned by my company that are used to house employees for various reasons (visiting from another location, just relocated to our city and haven’t found housing yet, etc). They’re mostly men, mostly mid-late 20s, and we get the apartments deep cleaned after they leave every single time because honestly? They’re gross. We would do it even if they weren’t gross because hygiene but these places usually REALLY need it. I don’t know if this is how these guys treat their own homes but it’s very weird working with someone after having to order replacement furniture covers because the cleaners couldn’t get the mysterious white stains out. For anyone staying in company properties, if you do this stuff there is going to be at least one of your colleagues who will never be able to look you in the eye again.

    1. Artemesia*

      Frat boys are known on a campus I worked on to literally live all semester or year in their house and NEVER once clean the bathrooms or kitchen. My brother’s son was an officer (officers lived in the houses — members in the dorms) and the year he was to live in the house my brother took him to school and then worked with another parents to clean the place which was grotesquely encrusted from a year of no housekeeping. Plenty of boys are raised to be waited on and never lift a finger; just waiting till they get married and women’s work can be done for them.

  23. Luke G*

    This gets an asterisk, but I worked on summer camp staff for 8 years. We didn’t live in cabins with the campers, most of the staff members lived in large canvas tents on wooden platforms. “Real” adults got cabins or brought RV’s for the summer, so you had 35-60 young men from the ages of 14-21 being “on” all day and keeping it squeaky clean and high-energy for the campers, then devolving into Lord of the Flies at night.

    Occurrences living with those coworkers:

    – “nut tap” wars that ended with someone briefly passing out from pain
    – A group of disgruntled lifeguards stealing their boss’ whistle and doing some heinous things to it before sneaking it back into his tent and letting him put it in his mouth
    – Someone getting transferred to a less desirable department got so angry he started breaking things with a claw hammer and had to be tackled
    – The phrase “I’m covered in leeches from the waist down, can you guys help?”
    – Coworkers hiding food in each other’s tents to lure the raccoons in as a prank
    – Playing catch with a fixed-blade knife

    1. Luke G*

      I should say, it gets an asterisk because it’s not “real job” company-owned housing. We weren’t exactly in an office all day and then living together at night.

      1. Three Flowers*

        Former camp counselor and later full-time camp administrator here: oh yes, it counts. It soooooo counts.

        The leeches thing was basically a shared nightmare for us, but it never happened. Non-venomous water snake infestation in the swimming lake, yes. Massive leech attacks, no.

        1. Luke G*

          We had a tradition that the nature center people would wade through one of the lakes, and if they had leeches on them by the end of the trip it meant the water quality was good (which is actually true, leeches need good water).

          Usually it was a few on the legs. One guy managed to get one in dead center in his nethers.

      2. Scarlet Magnolias*

        This would get an asterisk as well, I lived in a commune in Boulder for several months in the 70’s. I thought it was going to be all about exotic drugs, wild sex and long intense intellectual conversations. Turned out it was more like “who stole my tuna fish?”

      1. Luke G*

        It escalated in visciousness. the last straw was when someone clipped a carabineer full of keys onto the strap of their hat and swung his new home-made medieval flail square into his friend’s crotch. I believe the vengeance there was “climb into the rafters of the shower building and pee onto the guy who hit him in the groin,” at which point cooler heads told them both to knock it off. They didn’t hate each other, teenage boys are just a special flavor of dumb.

  24. let's go with canadian*

    Oh goodness. Where to start. So I worked for a large, non-profit retreat center where people could come and take 2 or 5 day workshops based around the idea of wellness, yoga, meditation, etc. The place was run by about 200-300 full and part time seasonal staff and I was the housing manager for a good chunk of the time I worked there.

    The majority of the housing for full timers was in a trailer park. Trailers that had been parked there 20 years ago and only maintained by the MacGyvers of the maintenance team (they would usually “fix” something by taking a piece off of one trailer and moving it to another. Due to our location, and the fact that we had humid summers and were not open in the winter, most of the trailers had mold. Sometimes so bad that a worker would develop an allergy, sometimes a serious one. I am amazed that they haven’t been hit by an OSHA violation yet. Also mice, beetles, every kind of bug… anything you could imagine. They recently started buying some new trailers but even these developed mold issues after just one season.

    The rest of the full timers lived in equally mold-ridden tiny cabins which had problems of their own, besides being painfully small (If anyone has ever read the short story “Billenium” by J.G. Ballard, think like that)

    To make matters worse, all of the part time workers didn’t get indoor housing. They lived in tents. They also worked for as short as 6 weeks at a time and every arrival day, had to be helped with transportation, lugging their gear, setting up their tents, and then the reverse of that when it was time to leave. A season without a bear sighting was a lucky one.

    “Managing” the housing there was basically playing damage control and overseeing the constantly rotating door of staff who showed up, couldn’t believe the living conditions, and promptly resigned, or otherwise asked to be moved to a trailer. Despite the conditions mentioned above, trailers were actually considered the better housing and we had to come up with some crazy seniority-based system to assign them each season.

    I could go on, but it’s making my head hurt.

    1. Luke G*

      What’s wrong with taking parts off one thing to “fix” another? My camp job had a fleet of vehicles that were mostly just re-mixed versions of the older fleet of vehicles- I’m pretty sure that means you have infinite vehicles.

      1. let's go with canadian*

        It’s great until the trailer you took something off of has a problem. With a vehicle it’s one thing, with a living space I think it’s quite another.

    2. Three Flowers*

      I’m imagining this place as something like Kripalu…which makes it even worse, since they’re so expensive and guests are almost all well-off people enjoying fancy “simplicity”. Ugh..

  25. lilsheba*

    Didn’t flush the toilet for environmental reasons? Where does he expect all that waste to go? A toilet can only hold so much! Ugh and that is just nasty as hell. I can’t stand people who believe that kind of thing.

    1. Luke G*

      It might have been liquid waste only- the “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” theory. When you’re in your OWN house it’s not such a bad plan as long as you don’t let it get smelly, but I’d never subject coworkers to it!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, my husband and I will often not flush if it’s just pee, at least until the second or third pee. But that’s just the two of us in our own bathroom; if there’s a guest, or we’re at someone else’s house, etc. it gets flushed every time.

      2. Hard working Panda*

        A few years ago at my previous job we moved offices because our team was growing. The new space was beautiful, a real kitchen, fresh paint and new windows, etc. But the rent was also way higher I guess, so our boss asked us to help save on utilities by applying the “if it’s yellow let it mellow”… Keep in mind we were sharing the bathrooms with 5 other offices.
        That was a hard NO from all of us.

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      This was official advice in my home town for several years because of extreme drought. Didn’t do it at work but we did it at home for a few years.

  26. doey*

    Of the 9 years of my career, 6 have been spent in campus housing. I LOVE IT. But, I also work in boarding schools, so living on campus is very much the norm. (And a terrifying prospect in These Times, when losing my job or being furloughed also potentially means losing my home. Keep your fingers crossed for me that this doesn’t happen, decisions are being made this week.)
    I get the added hilarity of living with teenagers, teenage girls specifically, and if you thought they were less gross/crazy/high energy than teenage boys, you’d be incorrect. One of my first years I supervised a dorm that had a full on fight club happening during study hours. I’d go up to investigate the racket and they’d all pretend they weren’t just wrestling and pushing each other. I’ve had many a 3AM fire alarm caused by someone making ramen noodles in the microwave but forgetting to add water.
    But the highlight had to be this year, when one of my students had a SQUIRREL in her room for 2 days and neglected to tell anyone. (It all worked out fine, but I only found out after the fact.)

    1. Manders*

      My husband’s a private school teacher who gets recruited by a lot of boarding schools! It seems like it could be a great setup for some people, but it seems like a poor choice for couples, so he ended up turning down those offers. I always wondered what it’s like for teachers living in dorms–do you get the time to date, relax, and be an adult in peace, or is looking after the kids a 24/7 lifestyle?

      1. doey*

        I think it really depends on your comfort level with your life being a little bit on display all the time (and whether you’re living IN the dorm or just in campus housing). Considering I’m in the dorm and have students all around me, I have a pretty decent amount of privacy. It does help that I lucked out with the only apartment in the dorm that does not share walls with a student bedroom (I have a stairwell on one side and a common room on the other.) It’s definitely not for everyone, but there are some major perks. I know my colleagues with children never have to hunt very hard for a babysitter, and when I’m not on duty, I really can switch off and let the kids be someone else’s responsibility for a night/weekend/etc. It also helps that my school is pretty liberal and values the work/life balance of our residential staff…not always the case in boarding schools.

    2. IT Heathen*

      As a former boarding school kid, I am sorry.

      PS. The booze is in the drop ceiling and the cigarettes are in the bottom of the feminine hygiene product boxes. That was the only place the almost all male security staff at my school didn’t look.

      1. EveryDayIsARugbyDay*

        And the pot was in the film canisters in the battery area of the large boom box radios.

        We also had a blender in the drop ceiling of our hallway when I was in boarding school. All the contraband was in the hallway so it was impossible to blame anyone when it was found.

    3. Quill*

      My mom worked at a regular (public) school with a squirrel infestation and I can only imagine the problems with a squirrel in a dorm.

    4. earl grey aficionado*

      Oh boy, the ramen noodles without water thing. I wasn’t an RA in college, but my dorm room was right next to the RA’s, so I got to overhear a lot of the drama and panic. One night, while we were experiencing torrential rain and a tornado watch outside, some first-year decided to go on a ramen noodle microwave adventure, ultimately setting the bowl of ramen on fire within the microwave and forcing us all outside to stand in the parking lot and get soaked (and panic about getting taken out by a tornado) while we waited for the fire department. Later that year we had problems with a serial shower pooper. (Seriously….what is with people??? Given the frequency and audacity, e.g. going on pooping streaks during admitted student tour weekends, this didn’t seem to be due to a health problem or even drunkenness. I think the perpetrator was just that much of a jerk.) Oh, and this was the designated LGBTQIA+ affinity housing floor, so you also had a bunch of newly-out teenagers who didn’t get to experience high school relationship drama stirring up college relationship drama on steroids. (Myself included….argh.) That RA had the patience of a saint and I really hope he’s excelling in his career today. I don’t know how you manage to stay so calm and professional in the face of all that, but he did. I’m pretty sure he graduated with honors to boot (and he was in a tough major, IIRC!).

      1. earl grey aficionado*

        I should also say that one of the lead Residential Life “real adult” staff members lived right beneath this floor with her wife and young kids as well. She was also unfailingly kind and professional despite all the noise, drama, and general extreme inebriation. I would read her tell-all book in a heartbeat.

      2. rocketship*

        I… can’t believe that there was someone ELSE who had trouble with a serial shower pooper. I was part of my university’s honors program, so supposedly we were the smartest kids on campus? Nope. Serial shower pooper. Along with coating the bathroom in soap, throwing paper towel everywhere, etc. They almost had to fine the whole wing he lived in because they couldn’t figure out who was smearing feces all over the shared bathroom.

        1. Quill*

          Jeez, and I thought the bean sprout growing out of the sink and the drunk chick who tried to flush an entire pizza were bad.

      3. Luke G*

        It was after I no longer worked at my camp job, but one summer they were plagued with a “mystery pooper.” they kept finding poops on picnic tables, inside locked gates, all over the place. The few people with master keys were also the ones to clean it up, so our best guess was someone leaping fences to create a poop mystery.

        Honestly as annoying as it is when you have to deal with it- it’s a fun story for the rest of your life!

        1. JustaTech*

          Before my company moved into our building there was someone who regularly pooped in the hallway outside the men’s bathroom on the 3rd floor. Very early in the morning or late at night, and no one was ever caught, but seriously, why?

      4. Former RA1039*

        We had a serial pooper too and at first I thought maybe it was someone with a medical problem but it seemed too intentionally placed…

        Then there was the time I worked at a place that housed summer conference attendees. So many cheerleading camps. One cheerleader had to urgent poop, and someone else was already using the toilet so she…went in the sink. That was a fun call.

      5. Gazebo Slayer*

        My college dorm had a mystery bathroom floor pooper, and my middle school had a mystery poop on the girls’ locker room floor, though I don’t know if that was a one-off or a repeat offender.

    5. Pretzelgirl*

      I’ve always wondered about working at a boarding school. If someone had a partner could they live with you? What if you had a family?

      1. doey*

        It varies a little bit based on the school, but of the members of my department, about half live with partners, a few have children growing up here, and most of us have pets. It’s pretty typical in boarding schools to have a mix of single people, married/partnered people, and families living in campus housing. It’s definitely not a lifestyle for everyone, and there usually gets to be a point where it isn’t practical anymore for families with kids (they outgrow their campus apartment, it no longer makes sense to live on the girls’ hall with their teenage boy/vice versa etc.), but for me so far the perks outweigh the sacrifices.

    6. Anon for this...*

      OMG I went to all girls boarding school. I can just IMAGINE what it was like! East coast? New England? Or Mid atlantic?

    7. TheKatie*

      Microwave drama just needs a public microwave. I had the dubious pleasure of witnessing a student at my school place a bowl of noodles with a tinfoil lid in the microwave, and the bowl subsequently catching fire.

  27. this isn't my usual account name*

    I am not sure if this qualifies but here goes –

    My father was in the armed services and in base housing. He was from the deep South and was living in the very far north. He made two mistakes (that he is willing to talk about). One – he tried painting indoor walls on a very cold day. The paint froze on the walls before drying and it looks like rivers of snot in the photographs. Two – his still in the unheated back room exploded one day and blew off the back end of the house, no pictures of this though.

  28. Dr. Rebecca*

    I worked for a small used bookstore when I was in my 20s, and the boss offered me the house he owned, too. However, rather than adding the housing *to* my wages, he took my rent *out of* my wages.

    This…is very illegal. It’s technically human trafficking. I would get monthly paychecks for $12 after rent and taxes.

    Also, the house was a pit–the basement was an unfinished hole accessed from the kitchen, the walls didn’t meet the floors in a bunch of places, the windows didn’t latch at all, and it was eventually condemned and torn down.

    He died a few years back, and even though I don’t believe in hell, I hope he’s burning in it.

  29. Animal worker*

    At a past job, reduced rent at a manufactured home on property was one of the options. I was so excited and happy to not have to find a place to live, and it was a really nice house, and very convenient (obviously) to work. And of course, it was for my ‘dream job’ that I had moved across country for.

    And every bit of those air quotes around ‘dream job’ ended up coming into play. Over time a strong philosophical difference in animal welfare became evident between me and my boss, and the job somewhat imploded from there. So every positive that I had for originally loving the option of the on-site company owned house option, it’s really a nightmare if the job relationship breaks down.

    And then there was the period where I had a defined move out date but no job yet and had to figure out what I would do with myself and my pets, living somewhere with no other prospects in my field. Luckily something worked out at the last minute and I secured a new job (with another cross country move), but boy did it turn from a dream to a nightmare quickly.

  30. AnonyMs.*

    I participated in the Walt Disney World College Program a loooong time ago, the summer before my junior year, in the late 90s. I was 20. They “provided” housing in an apartment complex– meaning, you got a bed to sleep in, roommates you were usually randomly housed with, and they took your rent out of your meager paycheck. Almost everyone had a zero balance on their first paychecks.

    The apartments were fine; spacious and relatively comfortable, decent kitchens, fully stocked and furnished, all that good stuff. But those apartments were notorious for being hotbeds of crazy-ass partying and lots of loud college-y stuff. My roommates were kind of ok, except one of them decided unilaterally to invite her mother and her brother to stay with us for several days without asking, the woman I shared my room with was a COMPLETE slob (there was a clear delineation between my side of the room and her side), my roommates insisted on blasting the a/c and I ended up getting pretty sick (the linens we were provided did not include thick blankets because Florida and my mother ended up shipping my flannel pajamas), I had no car so had to rely on provided shuttles and friends to take me grocery shopping, and there was A LOT of sex. Everywhere. In the pool. In the hallways. In our bedrooms and living rooms. On my second-to-last night I came home to find one roommate with her underwear around her ankles, making out with some random dude on the sofa. Oh, and there was the time a couple of international students killed one of the ducks in the duck pond so they could make dinner.

    But… it wasn’t that terrible, at least in hindsight. I lived and worked with people who are still my friends after all these years. I made a few friends who had awesome roommates and I always had a place to crash if I needed it and places to escape. A few of them even had cars. One of my friends had the best roommates, and they all decided they were going to make me my first margarita, so my first “drunk” experience was pretty cool. People were generally pretty friendly. The company provided transportation to and from work, plus opportunities to go other places. Plus, you know, DISNEY WORLD. “What time is your shift?” “In about four hours.” “Cool, want to go on the Great Movie Ride before work?” “Sure!”

    I did hear that the other semesters were much less insane and it was just summers that got crazy.

    1. CostAlltheThings*

      Ah! I did the program in the early 2000s. I had a flatmate that refused to clean but my roommate was pretty awesome. After dealing with the shuttles and living off of Walgreen’s grocery selection for about 2 months, I managed to get my schedule where I could fly home and drive back so I had a car – best thing I ever did.

      I do miss going to the park before or after my shift and just hanging out. We are way overdue for a family trip!

      1. AnonyMs.*

        Yup, I said the same thing. Note that I was not present and it may have been a weird rumor, but nothing was too crazy at that place.

        1. Artemesia*

          When I was working in Quangzhou I noticed there were no birds although there was a lot of park space — the city is not generally build with a lot of very high rise buildings. I would walk through parks and not see a pigeon or a single flying bird. When I asked a local we were working with he just matter of factly said ‘oh any birds get netted and eaten.’

  31. Chinook*

    I lived on a teacherage on a reserve. Since my landlord was my employer and rent was part of my salary, it meant that I had to put up with their repair schedule. The good news was that the houses were relativeley new, but that didn’t mean they were perfect. Case in point was the toillet in my kitchen/dining area. It wasn’t installed, just sitting there, unboxed, waiting to be installed elsewhere.

    On the plus side, atleast my shower worked. The prinicipal had to shower at the school for his first two weeks. Th onky issues I had with my main bathroom was the lack of a knob on the faucet for the tub. Luckily, I had pliers with me to use in its place.

    For the record, the closest community with any rentals not owned by a tribe was 100 km away, so this was the only option.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      I have my own teacherage story below! My appliances were installed (and they worked), but I had to weed my floor.

  32. Cafe au Lait*

    I worked at an outdoor education camp for a year. I shared a house with my best friend, and (at the time) three strangers. My best friend moved her boyfriend (another staffer) into the house. Our house was nicer than his even though his housing unit was a double and he was the only person living there. It would’ve made much more sense for them to move there. Especially since they only showered every four to five days to “save water.”

    From there my friend tried to segregate the house; she and her boyfriend would have the upstairs in the back half of the house. The remaining four had to deal with the four smaller bedrooms in the front half of the house. Oh and her boyfriend wouldn’t help out with any of the house chores since he already helped his girlfriend with hers.

    She and I are still friends. Unsurprisingly our friendship took a nose dive until she broke up with the boyfriend.

    What else…There was the guy who would hit on all the new female staff. Once he realized or figured out that you weren’t willing to date him, he’d stop hanging out with you. There were freeze-out wars on the best housing. One of the more desirable housing units became free and two guys asked to move there. I let them know I was also going to ask (hey, if it’s free why not ask nicely; it’s not like they owned it). The majority of the staff froze me out socially since the guys asked first. Within a week of moving into the new unit they had to move out. Summer Camp director wanted the unit free for summer programming staff. BTW, I did end up asking the Summer Camp director, and I’m pretty sure the guys had to move because he told me ‘no,’ and it wouldn’t be fair to let the guys stay since they never asked him at all.

    There was the camp director’s daughter who stole from the rest of the staff. (Before my time). She was fired. A year and a half later she was brought back because camp was short staffed to the point of closing down programming if they didn’t hire more employees. The first time I met her, her Dad told me in great detail how she was fired in front of her.

    There was the married guy who started an affair with another staffer. She was frozen out for “making” him betray his vows. He was given a free pass because he was well liked, gregarious, and knew how to say all the right things.

    There was the staffer who tantrummed at the smallest indication of not getting her way. She’d also stick her nose into everyone else’s business and was incredibly offended when asked nicely to stop. When approached about her behavior, she’d cry and sob that you didn’t like her because she was a cancer survivor. (How???)

    In general the camp was horribly bad at communicating cultural norms and expectations. More than one new employee was dinged for not adhering to rules that weren’t written down or verbally discussed in onboarding. For example: car doors had to be locked at all time. Even in non-camper spaces. Even if you were getting something out of the trunk, intending to climb back into the car right afterwards. The guiding mindset was “Pretend that kids have access to this space at all times.” But that was never communicated. At least two people quit when they were continually talked to about small infractions they had no prior knowledge of, and the directors refused to make a staff handbook.

    1. NatureSu*

      Hi, fellow outdoor ed alum! I was in it for 4 years, housing with that stuff is so varied. Smooth seasons and ones that would rival reality TV.

  33. Free Meerkats*

    Only when I was in the Navy.

    Two person/room barracks at Nuke School in Vallejo, CA had a roommate who refused to go down to the head in the night and peed in the sink.

    On board the USS Enterprise, anything that wasn’t locked up was stolen. There was the guy who seemed to not know what a shower was. And after a night out, somebody who wasn’t me decided to sleep in my rack and was horribly sick in it. I came in to get ready for work to a rack full of what appeared to be hurricanes and meatballs.

    1. AnotherAnon*

      I lived in Vallejo years ago on Mare Island sometime after it had been shut down. I rented a studio above a garage that I believe was previously “servants quarters” for the larger officer homes.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Ooh! My MIL lives on Mare Island and we love walking past the old officers’ mansions. Was your studio nice on the inside at all?

        1. AnotherAnon*

          There was NO insulation or heating/cooling, so that could be rough (especially because the attached neighbor loved blaring rock music at 6 AM), but I really liked it. Nothing fancy because the landlord sucked, but had some nice touches from the period in which it was built.

    2. 3DogNight*

      Ft Leonardwood for Boot Camp. We were co-ed, and the bed hopping was crazy, even for boot camp.
      Beyond that, everyone was great, and super supportive of each other (you know, except your DI).

  34. Hard working Panda*

    My housing was provided by my company for 8 months when I was doing my internship for my masters. It was a studio in someone’s house, I had a tiny kitchen, bathroom, and a separate entrance. What I didn’t know is that she would treat it like I was living in her house and living by her rules… Random inspections for cleanliness, commenting that I have too many hair and body products in the shower (that I am the only one using)… I wasn’t very good at cleaning at the time (thanks, depression!) but I was still tidying and cleaning every weekend, vs every day as she wished. She got in a huff because there was some water marks (like when water evaporates) on the metal sink. She was also extremely talkative and would invite herself for tea and talk for HOURS while dropping in berating comments about how I was living my life. Thank god I was single at the time, I can’t imagine the scandal had I had a man come and sleep over.
    She was also a real gossip in the very small community we were living in, and it was pretty stressful to think about her coming in to inspect the studio when I wasn’t there or when the next insulting extended discussion.

    There were 2 other interns at the same time ad they also got housing provided… in a large studio adjacent to the owner of the company’s house. They lived together and slept in the same room, with curtains for privacy. The owners of the company would inspect trash for any bottles of alcohol, and talk about it at work when it happened.
    … We were all 24-25 at the time.

    1. Krabby*

      That is horrific. I can’t imagine having to put up with that kind of invasion of privacy, eugh.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I can’t, and I can’t imagine wanting to spend as much time snooping on your tenant as that horrible woman did. I mean, that sounds *boring*, doesn’t she have better things to do?

  35. Homebody*

    I once lived in shared housing for an artist-residency program in a small town overseas. I had a great time, but there was a lot of drama because a lot of the members skewed young.

    One particularly noteworthy moment was when one of the members of the house disappeared without warning for weeks. After the first few days of her disappearance the local authorities started an investigation and quickly assumed foul play. Since we had a history of not getting along (she liked to start drama and manipulate people), the police deemed that I was a potential suspect (!), interviewed me, and told me I not leave town until they could rule me out of the case (!!). Several (agonizing) weeks later they had to shut down the entire town to search for her body (it was a coastal town so there were even search boats), and in the middle of it she just showed up and asked what everyone was doing. It was crazy.

    She was kicked out of the program shortly after this incident, after she got extremely intoxicated and tried to go into town nude covered in paint.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Re-enacting Agatha Christie 1926?
      (She disappeared for weeks and maintained that it was insomnia caused by the stress of a cheating husband.)

    2. nymitz*

      Oh I forgot about this one! When I was living at / managing a peace corps regional house (think like an RA in a dorm, but slightly older people, fewer of them, and dropping in randomly during the month to spend a night or two), one of my volunteers up and disappeared.

      Headquarters had called an emergency drill. When a volunteer disappears, there’s (or there was at the time) a 24-hour clock that starts at headquarters as soon as the disappearance is known, after which the country office must notify the embassy and get the Department of State involved in looking for the volunteer. So the emergency drill was “you must find and speak with or visually confirm every one of your volunteers in the next 24 hours”. Only… one of mine could not be found. I sent the volunteer “next door” on a three hour bike ride to look for him in his village and report back to me; I called every one of his known friends that I could find a number for, and left messages at public telephones on a 50-mile stretch of road asking the owner of the phone to flag him down and make him call me if they saw him.

      …I found him with about 30 minutes to spare. He’d had an upsetting conversation with a supervisor and taken off to visit a friend on the opposite side of the country without telling anyone. I had left a message at the public telephone nearest that friend’s village as part of the “call all known associates’ emergency numbers” step. Fortunately he was there, and was fine, and it was a good test of our emergency procedures, and State never had to know. He had to have a second pretty uncomfortable conversation with the same supervisor, though.

  36. ladymacdeath*

    Oh my god I have so many stories. I was a RA in college, and my industry (theatre) OFTEN provides housing for contract and seasonal gigs. I was working at a theatre last summer where my whole job was arranging transportation and housing for employees and turning over apartments between residents.

    Fun times include: one pair of actors that left 15 bags of trash in their kitchen despite having a dumpster in their building’s parking lot, a designer who stole and shipped home a painting from his provided housing, an actor deciding that a burnt out light bulb is enough of an emergency to warrant a call to our after-hours phone at 2am, driving a shuttle home from an opening night party 1.5 hours after its planned departure time because actors were too drunk, and so many other stories. I feel like a grizzled woman drinking a martini whenever I talk about that job.

    1. Also A Theater Kid*

      Great new response to the ‘how many actors does it take to change a lightbulb’ gag tho.

      …”why not call the company manager at 2am instead?”

      1. ladymacdeath*

        Truly I think their first instinct sometimes is “why not have the company manager fix this” even if it’s something that really isn’t our job. I’ve gotten calls to unclog a toilet even though they had a plunger right there and hadn’t even tried before calling me. I also had several calls to kill bugs last year. It would be one thing if someone was allergic or they had an infestation or a hive we had to deal with, but we had this one girl call us probably five times over the summer because she didn’t like bugs. Yeah, none of us do? Stop opening the screen on your windows?

    2. Avocado Toast*

      Also a theatre person and the specific types of bad behavior by actors versus designers are spot on and I’m laughing a lot.

  37. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    In an absolutely tiny flat in Hong Kong for the second part of my ESL student teaching. My three local roommates were awesome, but having a bedroom that was literally two feet wider than the twin bunk beds (yes), exactly as long, and with windows that didn’t opem..and the door couldn’t open all the way.. that was special. It felt like a firetrap. Otherwise an amazing experience!

  38. Asenath*

    I grew up in employer housing, and really, I don’t think it was that bad. Of course, for obvious reasons, I was in the family housing and not in the housing for single workers, but I don’t recall hearing many complaints about that. We had houses, varied by status (status can be extraordinarily important in such situations), and ranging from row housing to single family units.

    The worst place, bar none, I ever lived in was a resident associated with a university. It wasn’t run directly by the university, it was some kind of student co-op, and I, having arrived in a strange city to join a program that was affiliated with said university, was eligible to live there. And it was cheap, and looked good on inspection. The place was a modern high-rise with units consisting of 4 or 5 bedrooms, a common closet, a common toilet/shower and a common living/cooking area. I didn’t know anyone, and I was randomly assigned to a group of men, including one who was a part-time security officer for the place, which made me think he had some official standing. I am not prejudiced against men in general, but these were filthy slobs. Nothing was ever cleaned. The common closet had a marijuana plant and a grow light. The toilet area was papered with pin-ups. The living area – well, I never went into it unless I absolutely had to use the stove. I kept a few dishes and a pan in my bedroom. I was young. I’d signed my first actual housing contract (although it wasn’t the first time I’d lived away from home) and I thought I couldn’t get out of it, especially since the aforesaid “security” guy thought everything was fine. I wasn’t really happy with other things about the new city, so maybe I was a bit depressed too. I didn’t realize how bad it was until someone who was really from the management went through the place with me when I left in the spring. She was absolutely horrified by the situation, and I’m sure if I had found out (say, back in September) what the procedures for making a complaint were and followed them, I could at least have been moved to a new unit and maybe gotten out of my contract altogether (which would still have left me with the problem of finding a cheap place to live). I credit that experience with teaching me that if something pisses me off, I might actually be able to do something about it, and trying to do so not only often works, but can get me a good reputation as someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

  39. Clisby*

    I’ve had only one job with employer-provided housing – a summer-long internship in Germany, working for Stars and Stripes (the newspaper for the military). We 6 interns were housed in an old WWI German barracks – the Red Baron had flown out of a nearby airfield. It was pretty basic, but did have working indoor plumbing, and one little room was fixed up with a refrigerator and microwave so we could fix at least some of our food. It was a great perk – it meant none of our intern pay had to go to housing, the job site was a few steps away, and we felt very safe since the whole S&S installation was enclosed, and there was a guard at the gate. Not that we had anything of value to steal – we were traveling as light as we could.

    1. Once in a While*

      Wow, I had a summer internship with the military in Germany too! In the army recreation program. Same deal on housing, although I think our barrack dated to the second world war, and we each had a mini fridge and microwave in our room. Not bad, really. There was a little drama among the housemates, but not at the level some people have had.

  40. Cranky Pants*

    I’m reading these and all I can think of is Tiger King and the girls who lived on Doc Antle’s property.

  41. AnonForThis*

    I was an assistant Resident Advisor at my religious Uni, soooo many stories.

    The way the dorm was laid out was boys on one floor and girls on the other. For some reason, my flat was on the boys floor. They would drag the rubbish cans over to my door and prop it up so when I opened my door, the rubbish can would fall into my flat. They’d put condoms on my doorknobs. They’d pound on my door at all hours of the night. Scream outside my door to wake me up…etc

    The worst were the important religious people (think similar to Bishops) that came to visit our Uni every year. We had to wait on them hand and foot, and they would live in one of our dormitories for a week. They would get completely wasted and would hit on all the female workers, including myself. We had to check in at every residence hall at 11 pm to make sure everything was good — and that entire week these men forced me to talk to them for over an hour, while telling me how pretty I was while they were very very drunk. I was too young and naive to push back, and we were basically their chauffeurs/maids/delivery people for the week, so it was impressed upon me not to tick them off.

    I have more stories, but they’d probably out me even more than these ones did. Either way, it was horrid and I felt no protection from my superiors. I was horribly bullied by both my staff and my residents and it was a traumatic experience.

    It did pay a decent amount for me, but apparently I was too thin-skinned to handle it.

      1. Sweet prison child*

        The person with work-provided housing was my dad and the job was with prisons, meaning that my brother and I grew up on the grounds of four (for him) / two (for me) prisons. The last many years were at open prisons where some residents were working in the areas that we lived in or went through.
        It would have been better for my father’s work-life-balance to live further away, but I am so very grateful for everything this childhood gave me; especially the ability to distinguish between a person and their actions, whether the person in question has committed crime or not. My father’s passion for the field as well as what I learned from growing up this way led me to the field of criminology. I direct my students to this website!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you haven’t heard of it, let me give you a bit of fun. There’s a middle-reader book series “Al Capone Does My Shirts”. From the point of view of a warden’s son at Alcatraz.

    1. JSPA*

      Not handling illegal crap with aplomb isn’t “thin skinned.” Even decades ago, what you’re describing was textbook sexual harassment. Hate to think what the “even worse” entailed.

      1. AnonForThis*

        Thanks, I know that now, a decade later — but my grand-boss sat me down and told me that I was too thin-skinned for this role and read me a list of complaints my staff had about me. Essentially, it was a giant clique and I wasn’t in the “in” crowd.

        I was also suffering from parental loss that entire year so I’m sure I did drop the ball on some things, but the way I was treated was so beyond horrid, I’m not sure if it was ultimately worth it.

        1. Workerbee*

          I am so sorry you were in that mess. Retroactive anger at these supposed pillars of society as well as students being just a thin veneer of skin over compost.

    2. anonn*

      I went to a religious college in the South and it definitely has a different flavor of infractions! The one that stands out to me (that I didn’t witness) was a female suite that tried to do an exorcism on one of its residents…

  42. Mbarr*

    My sister (45 years old) lives in work-provided house in a small, remote, northern community. It’s a sweet gig… But problematic at times. She’s the only permanent employee in the community – other employees come and go on daily/weekly basis and stay in other shared cabins.
    1. The shed in her backyard caved in once, and she had to fight with the company to get it rebuilt (supposedly it was never on the property plans).
    2. When the work schedule changed and suddenly there was a possible shortage of beds in the shared cabins… Upper management threatened to make people live at my sister’s house. I don’t blame her company – it IS their house… But it’s a 2 bedroom house that my sister has been living in for over a decade on her own. To her, it’s HER home. Luckily nothing came of it.

  43. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    Second experience: was in a nanny house behind the main house. Two nannies from different countries, and only one real bed. The couch wasn’t a couch bed and the nanny from Ukraine was told she had to give the real bed to any nanny from a “better country”. Besides being on-call 24/7 for the perk of €300 a month- I did end up quitting mid-contract for other reasons, but not before meeting my future husband, so it was worth it I think.

  44. Beboots*

    I’ve worked in remote locations for a federal government (not American) agency where I’ve lived in shared staff accommodations. A few years ago, the decision was made by the management team to demolish half of the staff housing on site (about 4 duplexes housing 3 people apiece) with about 3 week’s notice. (It was due to maintenance concerns – they weren’t like not up to code or anything but the cost for a repair that was probably a good idea but not dangerous to leave would have been cost prohibitive.) The management team had made the decision about 5 months prior but chose to give only three weeks’ notice because they were worried about staff pushback during peak operational season, and since they weren’t legally required to give more than two weeks notice to evict people from shared housing (again, run by the federal government, we operated under different laws than standard housing ones), they thought three weeks notice was appropriate and in fact generous. We were able to scramble and find alternate accommodation (some in other staff houses, some in the city about an hour’s drive away) but it wasn’t, uh, ideal by any circumstances and was super disruptive and demoralizing. In meetings that followed with the management team about how this all went down, one of the managers said that it shouldn’t have been a big deal because we were all seasonal staff and “must be living out of suitcases anyway.” Most of us had been living there as a primary residence for 1 to 4 years!

  45. Georgina Fredrika*

    Not quite as exciting as all of these, but I used to work at a summer camp and the second year I was there, new camp leader/co-leader were trying to shake things up

    There was a long-standing tradition where every night, the counselors would make a fire outside the cabins and stay up talking for a while (only if there was another counselor to stay in the cabin with the kids, but the cabins were all fairly close to the fire).

    New management didn’t like this and told everyone to stop making fires at night and go to sleep, but of course everyone working there was 17 and “BUT THIS IS OUR TRADITION, also you don’t pay us more than peanuts” -ing that.

    Our new 30ish-year-old co-leader thought he was somewhat of a ninja and decided to sneak up on us during one of these fires by slowly crawling along his hands and knees over the course of an hour through underbrush until he got to the fire in question.
    It was very strange…

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      And my 11-year old son
      and 42-year old husband
      and his 38-year old brother
      don’t forget his 60-something uncle!

    2. Sleepless*

      I smelled the unmistakable smell of pee in my backyard once. I thought for a second, looked up at my teenage son’s bedroom window directly above, and formed a theory. I walked inside and pointed out that the bathroom was RIGHT NEXT TO HIS ROOM for heaven’s sake. He was astounded that he’d been made, and I never smelled it again.

      (This is the same kid who, when we were staying in a vacation house that was built into the side of a steep hill, had the downstairs bedroom with its own deck. Right below the deck off the main floor. He apparently went outside and just hung it off the upper deck. Sounded like a great idea until he went downstairs, and stepped in a puddle on the downstairs deck. At least he had the grace to laugh at himself.)

  46. Pheasant Feathers*

    This wasn’t a case of the company owning the housing, but them thinking that they did. A decade or two ago I moved overseas to work with a small international nonprofit for a few years. They had a rule that you had to room with at least one other member of staff, which I was happy about at the time since it gave me someone that I would get to know in this new country. Because I was coming from overseas (my roommate-to-be was already there), they went with her to find an apartment in the town we were working in. The lease was in our names (signed a few days after I got there); they were not on the lease other than to say (since I had no local credit) that if we defaulted on the phone bill they would pay (but not the rent, which was 100% on us).

    Some parts of this were wonderful. My roommate and I got along well, and our occasional other roommates were mostly fine too. I was at an age where it was a grand adventure, and I liked having people around at the time. But the agency believed that the apartment belonged to them, and we were just staying in it. How they got this idea I still don’t know, since as mentioned previously, we were the ones on the lease and paying all the bills from our salaries, but it came through over and over again. I didn’t mind having other staff members come and go even if we didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. I didn’t even mind the fact that the agency would run extensive training conferences each fall where people would spend a week or two learning organic llama farming techniques and that they “asked” us to host the attendees, so that we’d help teach people grooming and how to keep your llama properly organic (no unnecessary antibiotics, people!), and then we’d take them to dinner (paid for out of their conference fee, at least) and then take them back to our apartment where we’d have conference members camping out on our floors (and in my case, every now and then sleeping in my queen sized bed with me [!!], which now I just can’t even imagine but…. early twenties are a different age). We liked hosting, and sometimes it was frustrating but often it was fun.

    No the thing that bothered me is that they wouldn’t let us have OUR people come stay with us without jumping through a lot of hoops. If the friends were locals, say someone working for the nearby alpaca farm, it was under the radar and no problem. But having friends from our home countries was a Big Deal. Once I got in trouble for having some friends come stay with me for a week or two despite the fact that I had told our bosses literally MONTHS before, filled out all required paperwork (for them to stay in my apartment with my name on the lease), emailed them at least once a month making sure all systems were go, and letting my team lead know how much vacation I needed months ahead of time. Later they decided that our friends could only stay with us if they paid the agency rent (for MY apartment, I underline again); it was phrased as them not wanting the friends to be a burden and make our lives more expensive, but it still made me extremely upset.

    What finally pushed me over the edge was having some of my overseas friends (to be clear, I had friends visit about 1-2 times/year) not be allowed to come visit because our bosses decided it would be a burden for my housemates (original roommate plus whoever the extra was at the time) even though I had explicitly cleared it with them and we had worked out the details, and even though it was much less burdensome having one or two people that were a known quantity and with some independence stay with us than having a bunch of random llama groomers none of us knew. At that point in time I decided my nonprofit life was over and returned home. This turned out to be a really good decision for many reasons, but honestly they probably would have kept me as a staff member for another year or two had they not done this, and as an overseas nonprofit it was hard for them to find staff, so me leaving put them in something of a bind.

    1. Sparrow*

      What would they have done if you just…ignored all the hoops related to having visitors? Besides asking for time off, of course – that actually is their business. Would they have fired you?

      1. Pheasant Feathers*

        Not allowed me to have time off, shamed me at our meetings, possibly disciplined me for insubordination, etc. Based on past experiences.

      2. Pheasant Feathers*

        Not allowed me to have time off, shamed me at our meetings, possibly disciplined me for insubordination, etc. Based on past experiences. Or maybe forced me to take all of my leave when the friends were there and not allowed me any for the rest of the year?

  47. LifeBeforeCorona*

    One perk of a summer job was being able to stay in the staff housing and it was nice, bascially a fully equipped cottage by the water. It was open to all staff and only I used it because everyone else lived close enough to commute. The problem was being the only staff member on site, everyone came to me with problems that I couldn’t fix, like the generator stopped working, or unclog a toilet, find the snake and take him outside. I was always off duty but because I was physically there it was easier to ask me then call the on-duty person who was less than 5 minutes away. Also, other staff members would call me to cover for them because even though it was my day off, I was there anyway so no big deal.

  48. Jennifer Strange*

    I did a year-long internship for a theatre about 7-8 years back which provided housing (and paid!). The housing units (2-3 bedroom apartments) were actually owned by the theatre’s managing director who dabbled in real estate and in addition to housing the interns (and out-of-town performers) there were apartments available for rent to the general public.

    We had a couple living across the courtyard from the apartment I stayed in and one morning I answered the door and saw the wife there. She asked if the red car was mine. I told her it belonged to one of the other interns, Jane, and I went to get Jane (I assumed the wife had accidentally hit it with her car or that the head lights had been left on or something). I come back with Jane who confirms that the red car was hers and the woman asks “Can you give me a ride?” Now keep in mind we don’t know this woman (or her husband!) other than seeing her across the way a couple of times. Jane – very taken aback – just stammers that we have to get to work, and so she can’t.

    Now we had access to one laundry facility (you had to walk outdoors to get to it and needed a key to get in). 5-6 months later, Jane notices some items missing form her laundry (it was common for us to leave our stuff in there while it washed/dried since you needed a key). An out-of-town performer notices that she also has stuff missing. It turns out that A) not everyone who rented an apartment had access to the laundry facilities (it cost extra per month), B) the couple across the way had apparently decided that some of the people they saw using the facility didn’t actually live in the apartments and weren’t supposed to have access to it so they decided to “punish” them by stealing items and (best of all) C) the couple themselves weren’t actually supposed to have access to the laundry facility, but an intern who lived in their unit before them didn’t know that and gave them her laundry key when she left and they moved in (so they were “punishing” people for using a facility they themselves were not supposed to be using). They apologized and as far as I know nothing came of it (they were still living there when I left) but I was incredibly wary of them after that.

    On a smaller note, two of the other interns had a guy in an electric wheelchair knock on their apartment door and ask if he could come in to recharge his wheelchair. They let him, but one told me he stood in the kitchen the entire time holding one of the kitchen knives.

    1. Asenath*

      Talking about people taking ownership on themselves…one of the places I lived in as a student (not the one mentioned above) was specifically rented out as rooms although it was laid out like an ordinary basement apartment. Our landlady told us this was because by doing it that way, she legally could access the rooms, which she couldn’t do except in an emergency or with notice if it was an apartment. OK, not good, but finding any place that would rent to students was hard, and the location was close to the university, and also we’d seen a LOT worse. So we took it. One of my friend’s novels went missing shortly before she had to have it read for class – massive upheaval and search; I swore I hadn’t taken it (I did borrow books to read)… The landlady had “borrowed” it without asking, but she’d kindly left a junky modern novel in case my roommate was short of something to read. We saw that book, and it puzzled us, but we didn’t connect it to the missing one.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I had a basement apartment with no lock, and my landlord would barge in at midnight to demand I fix his computer and TV, and once let his friend in while I was gone to use my computer without my permission. When I yelled at him about this, he seemed baffled as to why this would be a problem.

        I am never living in anything attached to someone’s house again if I can possibly help it.

  49. soontobephd*

    I’ve been waiting for this thread! I lived in company provided housing abroad for several years and it was… interesting. We lived in a small apartment building, two employees to each 2-bedroom apartment.

    One year, a fairly new employee decided to organize a thanksgiving dinner for all of her friends. She legitimately invited everyone in the building except two people. When inquiries were made as to if the event was open to everyone or if the others who didn’t get personal, on-paper invitations could attend… she responded that “we’re all adults here, we don’t need to be friends with everyone”. Why yes, I was one of the two people that didn’t get an invitation and ended up eating thanksgiving dinner alone.

    1. soontobephd*

      One more story:

      As the ground floor apartment, I had a small fenced in patio while the other apartments had balconies overlooking the patio. My upstairs neighbor was a 22-year old former fraternity bro who loved to throw parties on the weekend. Every weekend, he and his guests would get blackout drunk then pee off their balcony onto my patio. The first time it happened, I had laundry out there drying on my clothing line! When I spoke to him about it, he claimed to not know what I was talking about. I quickly learned to bring in all my laundry on weekend evenings to prevent a repeat of the pee disaster.

  50. Blanche*

    I worked in an isolated community in Alaska with no roads in or out. As you can probably guess, there was no hardware store in town. When my kitchen sink broke, facilities staff ordered the part, and told me to wait for it to arrive on the mail plane. For months, I did my dishes in the bathtub waiting for the part to arrive. Then one day I was in the storage closet and found the part. It was stamped as received months prior and facilities just … hadn’t gotten around to it. This was the same employee who would come into the school on the weekend when I was grading papers and watch porn on a work provided computer.

  51. Bridget the Elephant*

    When I was a tutor in a Hall of Residence (UK equivalent of an RA in dorms?), one summer the university was doing renovations so we had to move to the hall across the road for the summer. We had a shared kitchen for the five of us. Because we were all postgraduate students, we all had different schedules. I was out in fieldwork for about half of the week and whenever I didn’t have locking up duties. Within a couple of days, I started to find my plates and bowls in the sink even though I was sure if we’d them up (we had to use our own crockery). Then food started to go missing out of the fridge. Because I never saw my coworkers and we didn’t have any regular meetings over the summer, I had to resort to passive aggressive notes and group texts to ask whoever was using my stuff to a) ask before using it, b) stop using it before asking, or c) at the very least wash it up and put it away. Then my favourite my favourite mug went missing. I moved all my crockery to my room after that, but couldn’t do anything about the food.

    It turned out that one of the other tutors (who’d started a year earlier) had never bothered to buy any crockery or pans of her own and has been using her usual flatmate’s things for the past year. Her flatmate had refused to confront her about it and didn’t warn the rest of us when we moved for the summer. The crockery “borrowing” tutor didn’t seem to want to spend money on her own food either. I never did get my mug back.

  52. Roy G. Biv*

    I taught English at a school in a Scandinavian country right after graduating from college. The job included room & board, which meant I lived in the dorm and ate with the students. And was frequently mistaken for one. It was a generally enjoyable experience, and I came out of it with a love of sauna, all things IKEA, and the desire to never eat herring again, in any form.

  53. Purple Penguin*

    Longtime reader, first time commenter.

    I taught high school English in France after undergrad. My school provided discounted housing on campus. I moved in to find that a rather large middle-aged man dressed only in a sarong who carried a substantial butcher knife like a babydoll also lived in my apartment. There was excrement on the bathroom walls. My bed, it turned out, had bedbugs. Another teacher, also a language assistant, had moved in the previous day and was hiding in his room, terrified. Both of us were from the Americas, hadn’t been paid yet and were broke, so we couldn’t exactly leave right away.

    Turns out the original flatmate had once worked for the school, had physically attacked a teacher, was fired but got to live on campus as part of his severance package. He was very aggressive but we all came to an agreement that we wouldn’t speak unless spoken to when he was around, which worked well enough. Other teacher and I cleaned the place from top to bottom, although with the bedbug issue and being broke, we ended up sleeping on the floor. It’s obvious to me now that the guy needed professional help and that the school should have done more to help us, but as a young naive woman I had no idea of anything. The other teacher and I made the best of it for a few months until I found a place by myself. Makes for a good “penguin takes flight” story now but at the time it was an ordeal.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      How the hell do you get fired for physically attacking someone but still get *severance*?! Which involves living on campus?!

      It’s like those executives who get multimillion dollar severance packages and NDAs after they’re quietly fired for sexually assaulting subordinates (that guy from Google, say) but I didn’t know the equivalent happened at this guy’s level.

  54. Jennifer Strange*

    Someone above mentioned being an RA which reminded me of another story from when I was an RA: It was my senior year of college and after we had to stay for an extra week and a half after everyone who was not staying for summer classes had left so that we could go through the dorms and check that everything had been cleaned out, note any damages, etc. Since we had to do this, we had access to a few all-access keys.

    A couple of days into this, the hot water in my dorm stopped working. I could get water, but it would be absolutely frigid and I couldn’t take a bath or shower in it. I put in a report to maintenance, but after three days nothing had happened. One of my fellow RAs suggested I go to one of the empty dorms and use their tub. So I grabbed my shower caddy and bathrobe and crept down a floor, trying out all of the bathrooms (it turned out it wasn’t just my dorm lacking in hot water). Finally about three floors down I found a dorm with hot water and took a nice, long bath. Just as I had gotten out I heard the front door to the dorm open (these dorms were all apartment style, so multiple rooms). I then hear the unmistakable clacking of high heels of the building’s manager (not directly associated with the college). I literally froze in place, my heart beating a mile a minute as I heard her walk around. Finally after I don’t even know how long she left. I stayed in place for a good 5-10 minutes just to make sure she was gone, then got dressed and left.

    No one ever found out.

  55. MaryT*

    I had a great time in company provided housing in my early 20’s as a co-op. It was for a large oil company in Northern Alberta. Because I was there for a winter term when they had less students, I ended up with a two bedroom furnished apartment with ensuite laundry. All of the students were placed in one of two apartment buildings next door to each other. It was much like living in university residence in terms of partying, except we had nice places and made a lot of money. The partying was a plus for me at the time (but would not be now, and I shudder to think of the other poor souls that weren’t students living in that building).
    The apartment rent was considered ‘income’, and we were taxed on it. But as we were students, this was a plus when tax return season came back and I got it all back in one lump sum. That tax return funded a summer trip to Europe.
    The weirdest thing that happened was that although apartment cleaning wasn’t part of our contract, the company provided it for other types of employees and due to a clerical mix up, I came home one day and found my apartment had been cleaned. This was disconcerting the first time, but once I knew to expect it, another awesome perk.

  56. Salty Sailor*

    It is my time to shine!! At a previous job, I lived on a museum ship for three years while working for the museum and my god, do I have some good stories! This post will make me instantly recognizable to anyone who knows me, but that’s ok because I tell these stories all the time. I should also mention that, although a lot of this is really nuts, it was also a very cool experience and I loved it. I would never do it again, but it was an amazing adventure to have while I was young and flexible.

    The museum I worked for didn’t pay any better than most museums, but once they’d gotten to know me they offered me a room in locked Officers’ Country in the ship. My room was about 12×7 and initially locked only from the outside… so whenever I was inside it during open hours, I had to barricade the door and hope nobody just shoved their way on in. They did, of course, and the day it happened while I was changing, I went to my pier manager and got him to make a hook for the inside of the door, which worked pretty well.
    I had a varying number of shipmates depending on the season, and I mostly liked them. We had one old boat bum who was so creepy we all refused to be alone with him, but most of them were nice folks (even the guy who never locked the head door! I felt I got to know him veeeery well.)
    Another nice thing about the shipmates was that I usually had a buddy when I had to go bounce trespassers- yes, that was how I paid rent. The inside of the ship was very secure, but the deck was pretty accessible (this is no longer true) and we knew when the bars up the street closed because we’d get drunk trespassers. It’s very hard to sneak across an un-insulated sheet of metal right over my head, so I’d wake up and then wake up my shipmate by yelling “Hey- prepare to repel boarders!” It sucks to be up at 2am before a shift, you might as well wake up laughing.
    So we’d go topside and I’d bang open a hatch so metal bounced off metal and start screaming at whoever was there, because frankly I was relying on the element of surprise. I am not an intimidating person. It usually worked and they ran, but I never got used to the invaded feeling of knowing someone was trespassing on my ship.
    Once, the city PD (you’ve heard of them, and very little good) saw my shipmate getting rid of trespassers and going back below, so they took it upin themselves to come aboard, pound on the hatch and scream at us to open up, and shove a gun in his face. Then they helped themselves to come inside and take our details.
    Eventually the museum put in a more secure door at the gangway and the trespassing stopped.
    The ither upside to having people live aboard was that occasionally we needed to do emergency upkeep. I came out of my room one day, headed topside to meet a friend, and found that a pipe had burst in one of the exhibit spaces. So I turned off water to the ship and started pumpung the space dry (and called in some backup). Whenever an alarm went off, in any of the several sites the museum owned, we’d go check it out and run bilge pumps or re-lock doors or whatever.

    Gosh, I have anecdotes for days. If people are interested, I’ll be happy to leave more in the comments!

    1. Salty Sailor*

      More it is! Please excuse typos- I’m on my phone but I love telling ship stories.

      I owned a reputation aboard as a motherly sort of person, which I liked, because we functioned as one odd little family a lot of the time. I don’t recommend that in general and it’s shaped my feelings about having firm-but-friendly boundaries at my later jobs, but under those circumstances, I liked it. We worked seven days a week and hostex overnight programs, so there were whole long weekends when the ships never closec, we just handed the keys to the next shift and made sure the heads were clean before we left.
      But, as all families have That One Guy, we had one who chronically ate other people’s food. We all knew he did it and management had been quite clear that they didn’t care, so we were stuck with him. Because I lived there, all my food was in the fridge in the Chief Petty Officers’ mess- the public couldn’t access it but everyone who worked at the ships could and it was kind of our break room. The public was always strangely fascinated to see us eating. Who knows why. So my entire kitchen was a shared fridge, a hot plate, and a toaster oven. (And briefly an actual toaster, see below.)
      To make up for this, my pier manager, who was a good friend, would have my shipmate E and I over to use his kitchen. We’d make a party of it and PM’s cute roommate and I would cook and PM and E would clean up. (The real best part of these dinner parties is that Cute Roommate and I are now engaged! PM is a groomsman and E gets to show up and say she told us so.)
      Anyway, one week I made a big dinner of food from the country where I studied abroad and Cute Roommate made these cookie-inside-a-cupcake things that were amazing. E couldn’t be there that night, so I brought home leftovers for both of us for lunch. And the next morning I woke up to find all of it eaten and the dirty dishes left in the fridge. The food thief had actually gotten to work early and helped himself. I confronted him, he denied nothing, and I tore him a new one about how much it had cost vs how much he knew perfectly well I made and the work, and the comfort food…
      I don’t recommend going off on a co-worker like that but you know how Alison talks about spending your capital wisely? I had a lot of capital and knew nobody would fault me, so I used it in one massive scolding before storming off to man my assigned site.
      Our Chief of the Watch actually sent food thief to buy me breakfast and apologize, because it was so remarkable to see me that angry. (And they never saw me that angry again.)

      Speaking of the toaster, it should never have been in the mess to begin with. We had a crotchety old guy working there who believed rules were for other people and he brought it in. The problem with it was that the wiring on the ship was very old and a bit delicate and fuses blew all the time. The last thing we needed was a fire on board. So there was an ongoing, quiet, cold war between the Old Guy and our curator, who affected to be grouchy but who was really very kind, often put-upon, and cared deeply about his work, and who I like and have immense respect for. Old Guy would use this toaster and often keave it plugged in, and Curator would unplug it and put it away, lather rinse repeat.
      And then one day the toaster was…gone. Old Guy grilled us all about what had happened, but we really didn’t know. Word eventually got around, though, that our Chief had heard a splash in the harbor and come around a corner to see nothing but Curator… smiling and humming to himself, with a cheerful spring in his step. The toaster was never seen again…

    2. Salty Sailor*

      I mentioned above that I really liked virtually all of my live-aboard shipmates, who were a rotating cast of characters doing ship maintenance, giving museum tours, and berthing with us in between actually sailing, often for long stretches. Many of them were friendly and we got along well.
      One downside to living in close quarters was that when one person got sick, we all caught it. We used three toilets and two showers between all of us plus the crew who lived elsewhere, so there was a lot of opportunity to spread germs. One memorable February, we passed around what might have been the actual flu and museum management was deeply unimpressed when, one after the other, we called out sick. I slept for 15 hours straight and would have kept going except that PM knocked on my door to check in me and made me come get some soup and nyquil. That day’s Chief of the Watch had run to the store for me and left the bag without making contact, which was as well. We did a lot of store runs for each other while we took turns getting sick and I’ll always love the kindness and community of it.
      The next summer, though, one of the sailors picked up a staph infection in his leg and it was something like three days before he called someone for a ride to the hospital. I still feel guilty that we thought he was away sailing- we’d have done more if we knew he was sick. But when he’d been hauled topside and ashore, my shipmate J (from the first post, who was threatened by the cops) and I went out and bought the strongest cleaners we could find and scrubbed the head until it gleamed and we were a little giggly from all the chemicals.
      Our sick shipmate believed that he’d gotten sick from a bedbug bite aboard ship, so the museum ended up bringing in a bug sniffing beagle to confirm or deny the presence of bugs. (There were none, thankfully, and shipmate apparently got sick elsewhere.) I got to meet the dog, later. I had gone to my site for the day but had forgotten shoes, so I managed to time my run back to my room so that I got to meet Snoopy and his handler, and then stayed to hear from her about how the investigation had gone. I believe my excuse was that they were talking about my living space and I wanted to know if I had bugs. Then, because Snoopy was done working and he had been A Good Boy, PM (who loves beagles) and I were allowed to pet him before we all left to go back to work.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      I had no idea the people who run museum ships sometimes live on them!! That’s one way to do “living history”!

      1. Salty Sailor*

        I’m not sure if anyone but us had that arrangement. A lot of the people in these stories worked at other museums, too, and I never heard of it elsewhere. It had its ups and downs- there was no climate control to speak of and the pipes froze once a winter. I came on deck to hike up the pier to a restaurant to use their bathroom and brush my teeth, and found our pier manager bent over the pipe with his mom’s hairdryer, melting a blockage so he could get it running again. One winter, a storm was coming in hard and fast and he evacuated us. He was prepared to take us into his house (i went to my best friend, who also worked with us and had a spare room) but we were ordered off the ship because he couldn’t promise we wouldn’t get hypothermia, or access to potable water and working toilets.
        On the upside, there was always something fun going on and there were always friends around to share it with. I really did love that.
        Our most dramatic moment of camaraderie was one summer during some riots in the city that you’ve definitely heard of. One of the other live aboards was working that night and came down to pound on my door because they needed all hands. It wasn’t really possible at that moment for our overnight groups to leave, so we’d been ordered to lock everybody inside the ships and keep an eye on things, but we couldn’t get in contact with our shipmates at the other sites.
        In my slippers and my cozy knit shawl, I literally ran the ship, dogging hatches and locking the kids in and then I went for my sneakers and sprinted full speed from one end of the ship to the other, jumping the knee-knockers and ducking the overheads. I looked like old-school Mario.
        Then we went to the other sites to let our shipmates know what was up and pass on the orders and to promise we’d come get them when we knew more. Obviously all of us were fine but we worked like a well-oiled machine that night.

      2. Starbuck*

        I know of at least one other educational ship (on the West coast) that has crew live aboard as part of their job.

        1. Salty Sailor*

          Oh, cool! I don’t know the west-coasters particularly well, although I’ve visited some lovely ships out there.

    4. Salty Sailor*

      Working in the middle of a city definitely made the job more interesting, sometimes too much so. My shipmate J had grown up there and was used to situations that felt a little rough by my somewhat sheltered suburban standards. One group who never trespassed were our unhoused neighbors, who we mostly got along with fine and who, because they were respectful of the ships, we were happy to let sleep in our doorways etc., although we did ask them to clear the doorways in the morning when the ships and buildings were in use. We couldn’t offer much, but we could at least be polite and leave them alone to get some rest in the little shelter we had the power to give them use of. (I admit to some disagreement with the folks who left a bag of excrement on our doorstep rather than in the open, nearby, public bathroom, the nearby trash can, or the harbor, however.)
      But it was not one of our known neighbors who came into our ticketless site one day while J was working and began methodically to remove her clothing. Now, there is absolutely nothing funny in imagining what this woman’s life must have been like to lead up to the event of her taking her clothes off in the middle of a museum but what was funny is J, sighing like he had seen this before, and saying flatly, “I don’t know what to tell you. You can’t do that here.” And the lady picked up her clothes and exited.
      When there was an incident to report, you were supposed to call your Chief of the Watch and let them know and they’d report to management. But we really couldn’t have somebody nude and on drugs wandering the museum, both for propriety’s sake and her own safety- it’s easy to stay safe, I used to tell visitors, but also easy to hurt yourself. So J picked up the phone and called the office and said, over protestations about chain of command, that he felt he should let them know in case visitors complained that their children had seen too much and because there was a higher chance of our unusual visitor getting hurt. Management made truky record time getting down there, but she had left by then.

      We had a shipmate who was one of the more luckless people I’ve known. Whenever there was a wacky incident, ahe always seemed to be there. She had a good sense of humor about it and took it in stride when we called her a Jonah. We even saluted her, as the sailors do in Master and Commander, a one-knuckle salute as we went by. (To get this joke, you may have to watch the movie. It was required watching for all our new crew and was/is my favorite film. I was under a gag order when we watched, because I can quote it stem to stern and apparently doing all the voices is “annoying”.)
      One day, a friend was visiting me at the ship and we had gone up in deck to hang out with the person working and got talking Chief of the Watch G, whose dad was a firefighter. We started to hear sirens and as they got louder one of us joked that maybe there were coming to us, since, after all, Jonah was working that day.
      And then a truck with some kind of specialized water-friendly lifesaving equipment sped past us in the direction of Jonah’s site and G said, “…that’s my dad’s truck…”
      G took off for the end of the pier, following the truck at speed, and came back half an hour later laughing. Sure enough, Jonah had called the fire department.
      She had been working when she had seen a man trying to break into one of the small, privately-owned boats tied up nearby. The guy clearly did not own the boat but was trying to hot-wire it (how? It’s unclear) and when he was confronted and shooed, he jumped into the water.
      The harbor water always made me think of Ankh-Morpork, where it’s hard to drown but easy to suffocate, and so G’s dad and his truck had been called out to rescue the swimmer and give him a professional hosing-off.
      The public is endlessly entertaining.

      1. kicking-k*

        I love everything about this subthread but now you’ve mentioned Discworld and knitting I’m wondering if I know you (but if I did, I’m sure I’d have heard these stories…)

        1. Salty Sailor*

          That would be so wild!! Do you think we’ve met? I’m trying to think how else we could figure it out… I did this job from 2013-2016 and have friends who do similar jobs in nearby cities, if you think we’ve maybe met through them.

      1. Salty Sailor*

        One of the ships did! It was supposed to look like a copper covered hull. I lived on the only one with alleged air conditioning and working showers. You know the area, then? I’ve long since moved on but I loved it- the job and the city as well.

        1. Foila*

          Yeah, I lived a few miles away and was in the sail training world, so kind of related. It’s a good place.

          1. Salty Sailor*

            Wonder if you knew my roommates? Do you recognize anyone from the stories? This was 2013-2016.

            1. Foila*

              Ha, I don’t recognize anyone as described, but I bet if we started listing names we’d get some in common. Small world!

              I once discovered that I had an acquaintance in common with a new colleague, but the person we both knew didn’t work with either of us, I knew them from school and the colleague knew them through a hobby. We were ~3000 miles away from where either of us had interacted with our shared buddy, but they were laughably distinctive. Like so distinctive that I can’t describe them here, because someone would recognize them, so we were 100% sure we were talking about the same person, despite being complete strangers. It was weird.

              1. Salty Sailor*

                I bet we would! I’m friends on social media with a bunch of those people still, even though I’m not on T**** anymore.
                What a small world!

  57. Free housing isn't free*

    In college another classmate and I lived with a family working with a non-profit our college had a relationship with in another state. The job itself wasn’t bad. The family dynamics where terrible. The mom had gone back to school 7 years ago to get her degree so she could get divorced and of course got her degree that summer. (At that point she decided to stay.) They hosted a foreign exchange student and that part was actually fun. The problem was the dad in the family aka as our boss at work. He was a total creeper. He never technically did anything but my roommate and I were both super uncomfortable around him on multiple occasions. We weren’t close so it took some time to compare notes, but when we both returned to campus we told the moderator never to let students live there again especially females. We had to explain all the creepy things in more detail then should have been required. It was a great organization but the living situation ruined much of the experience.

  58. Fabulous*

    I worked at an amusement park for two summers during and after college – the first year was in the “dorms” and the second year was in the “apartments” which was basically a glorified dorm.

    In the dorms, you usually had 3 other roommates (2 bunk beds) living together in an 8×12 room with a common bathroom. I was lucky in that I only had one other roommate, and she actually left halfway through the summer so I had the room to myself and a couple friends. BUT, the bathrooms and laundry facilities were horrendous. There were lots of international employees who didn’t have the same standards of cleanliness, so one time I went to the bathroom and someone literally left a floater in the toilet the size of a small child. Another time, a group of girls were doing dishes in a tub on the bathroom counter and instead of dumping the dirty water down the sink drain, they dumped it all over the floor. Then of course you can’t forget the time that I discovered a used condom in my (thankfully empty) laundry basket when I went to switch over.

    The apartments thankfully weren’t quite as bad since you could actually choose which 8 people you preferred to live with, but I unknowingly had a falling out with one of my best friends from the first summer, so living with her the second year – while also working together every day – was AWKWARD to say the least.

  59. Eusapia*

    Not me, but when I got out of grad school I was part of a fellowship program that placed recent grads with nonprofits around the country. It was up to each organization to determine compensation, and I met a girl who agreed to work for one place where they would pay her like $25K a year but provide free housing. They showed her pictures of a beautiful converted factory building with floor to ceiling windows. When she got there, she found out that yes, she would be in that factory building, but that her apartment had NO WINDOWS AT ALL. ZERO. She had moved there for the job and didn’t know anyone she could stay with, and also couldn’t afford another place on the salary she was given. Hideous.

  60. newgrad*

    I did an internship at a government lab for two summers that included housing for everyone on site. We lived in apartments with six people the first summer and eight the second (they moved us because the old housing was condemned), and no supervision beyond the lab’s safety force that would occasionally patrol.

    The highlight of the first summer had to be when my roommate found a dead mouse crushed behind her bed that had been there for at LEAST a week by the time we found it. We assumed the smell was an issue with the bathroom pipes :/ Another group of interns couldn’t use one of their two bathrooms because there was a toilet in their shower. I don’t think there was another usable one in the room. Every morning at 7 am, we were woken up by a loud alarm that was piped through the lab’s PA system. There was no way to turn this off and it made me jump about a foot every time. After we all complained enough, we were able to get them to push it back to a generous 7:30.

    Considering we were all college students living together with no supervision, it didn’t get as crazy as you’d think. Probably because we were also all scientists with stunted social skills, lol. We did have a kid black out in my apartment after a movie drinking game, and I know the other interns would hold parties, but nothing too crazy. There was a group of kids who smoked a joint in the woods near the apartments, which was ballsy considering we were a. living at a government lab and b. they had to go through a guarded gate to get on site, and the guards randomly searched people’s cars.

    The next summer, we were moved to different housing on site that only had one kitchen for about 150 people (since the former housing was from 1950 and condemned). We had kitchenettes with a sink, refrigerator, and microwave in our individual apartments but there was only one stove for all of us to share. There were a lot of people who lived off of microwave dinners that summer. Lot of underage drinking too. We had intern parties in someone’s room every Friday night, and would usually play this ridiculously convoluted drinking game someone invented. There was also someone’s girlfriend who had just moved in with him, despite the fact that visitors need a gate pass and can only get approved to stay on site for a certain amount of time. Still not sure how they pulled that one off.

    All things considered, it could have gone a LOT worse. I had wonderful roommates both summers — I can’t imagine how miserable it would have been if I didn’t.

  61. Non-profiteer*

    For two summers in college, I worked for a program that brought high school students to our major city for educational programs. These programs were in cycles of 11 days. So for 11 days you were on and working ridiculous hours, and then you got 3 days off before the next cycle starts. The students were housed in a hotel, and the staff also stayed in those hotels. So one of the perks of the job was that you didn’t have to pay for your housing for the summer, because you were living in the hotel with the students, right? Well, except that: to cut costs, the second year I worked for the program, they announced that they were no longer providing us with hotel rooms for our 3 ‘off’ days. We were supposed to find other housing, or stay at the hotel at our own cost. This is a crazy policy anyway, and it also wasn’t communicated properly before anyone took the job. Queue everyone scrambling to find couches to crash on, etc. and a lot of resentment amongst the staff. 
    After a couple cycles, we really learned the inner workings of this hotel we were living in, and also particulars of the program. We realized that during those ‘off’ days, there were certain rooms in the hotel that the program still had to rent – rooms attached to meeting spaces that had to store equipment, etc. Those rooms just sat empty while we were all being kicked out of our sleeping rooms. So I decided that during the next break, I would literally become a squatter in one of those rooms. And I did. This included dead bolting the door and pretending not to hear the maid knocking on the door…and then not answering the phone when the front desk called to ask who was in the room. I would sneak in and out of the hotel through the backdoor so they front desk wouldn’t see me – although that probably wouldn’t have mattered. I rarely let the room, because i was afraid they’d change my key while I was gone. This was fine, because all I wanted to do was rest for 3 days before the next program started. I ordered a lot of pizza and watched a lot of TV. 
    To this day, this is one of the most ‘criminal’ things this rule follower has ever done.

  62. YBBravo*

    Not company housing, but a work-related housing story that worked out very well for me! I was studying in Japan, living in a dorm, when I got my first job as a translator. I worked for a small company that couldn’t really afford to pay me market value, but the company president had an investment apartment that was sitting empty. He offered to rent it to me for a dramatically reduced rate to make up for the lower pay: $600 a month, for a one bedroom apartment, in the middle of Tokyo. The apartment was miles better than anything that I could have gotten on my own, so I jumped on it.

    Six months in, the apartment above me was doing renovations when the contractors busted through a water main that flooded my apartment. It luckily missed my closet and most of my electronics, but the apartment was a wreck. But it was the company president’s apartment. And he was FURIOUS at the contractors. He made executives from the construction company come to our office so that he, his right-hand man, and myself could sit on negotiations for compensation. It was amazing to watch them go after the construction company. My company president would explode at them about the injustice of it all, and his right-hand man (a stone-faced terrifying dude in normal circumstances) would just sit there and occasionally make a comment in a tone that made you rethink your life choices.

    In the end, the construction company remodeled the apartment, replaced all destroyed items, put me up in a nice hotel for a month during repairs, and paid me about $3k for my trouble. I was SO GLAD that I didn’t have to handle that by myself.

    I ended up living there for 6.5 years until I left Japan and it was honestly ideal. I probably wouldn’t have taken the deal at home in the US, but I decided to take the chance to get around the hassle of trying to rent as a foreigner in Tokyo and it worked out!

    1. pancakes*

      This doesn’t sound ideal to me at all. Someone who can afford to own investment properties can afford to pay their employees market rate.

  63. PostDoc*

    Just want to note that I live in “totally normal” company-provided housing: I work in a government-pay-scale-limited job in an abnormally-high-cost-of-living-area, and they provide subsidized (solo) apartments to bring housing cost down to less than 40% of my paycheck. Sounds great, and typical practice: this is a large employer, and they provide subsidies for select other middle-class jobs. The apartments are reasonable and well-maintained, and very close to work. This is the best-case scenario for employer-provided housing, I think.

    And I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND IT! Even though I have my own apartment, the knowledge that my job hunt is necessarily tied in with losing my housing kept me from job searching for 6 months.

  64. Keymaster of Gozer*

    A company run set of houses in an area for new graduates that apparently had:

    1. A guy who peed on his bedroom floor during the night because he didn’t like the fact the bathroom was downstairs. (They had to replace the carpet and scrub the floorboards because he’d done it for months).

    2. The guy who refused to let any of the women have their boyfriends over until they’d got him a girlfriend. (He’d never had a relationship and felt they were being unfair by not dating him)

    3. The woman who’d get blackout drunk regularly, twice requiring an ambulance for alcohol poisoning, and only showed up to work when she was sober. Refused all help from the company for her drinking problem and at most showed up 4 days in a month. I think the firm kept her for 6 months before letting her go.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        The manager sat across from me told me all these, and the guy with the ‘I’m entitled to a girlfriend’ issue did ask the company to ban any male guests from the house, and said it was causing him significant mental problems to have other people’s relationships ‘shoved in my face’.
        Do recall my fellow manager basically told the guy to grow up.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          This was years before the ‘incel’ thing started but I think he’d have been a card carrying member of it!

  65. Jennifer*

    The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I wanted to have some sort of adventure with my summer job. I’m from Buffalo, went to school in MN, and decided to spend the summer working at Wall Drug. I first went home to visit and then drove from Buffalo to Wall, SD by myself in my little Geo Metro. Part of the contract included housing provided at a very modest cost and if you completed your contract, they would refund half of what you paid for housing. The company owned homes around town specifically to house seasonal employees. I ended up sharing a double wide trailer with two other women. We each had our own bedrooms and there were two full bathrooms, so no worries regarding that. Many of the other house had two people per bedroom and 3 or 4 people sharing a bathroom. There was a strange trailer across from us and we spent the summer joking about it being CIA or FBI. When a roommate’s mom came to visit, the people across the way dinged her car and they had to exchange information. It turns out they were FBI!

  66. Kari from Up North*

    During my college summers, I worked at resort in Minnesota that provided on campus housing. $5 a day for room and board plus use of the beach, pools and golf course. Best three summers of my life.

    Now as a parent, I look back on those summers and thank God my parents did not know what was up and there was no social media. 50 college age students, lots of disposable income and free time, and very little adult supervision (unless a guest complained). I’m amazed no one was hurt or died.

  67. BlackCatOwner*

    So far I’ve only seen corporate or academic housing. I lived on a farm for a year doing a labor-for-rent exchange. It was grueling. The farm owner was nice and lived part-time in the attached in-law apartment. I had the house’s large 2-room master suite with private bathroom. The problem was that I had no contract, so was constantly worried about getting fired and not having a place to live. I worked a regular full time office job on top of the farm job, so I was working all the time. The owner wanted to be friends and I wanted a much more formal employee/employer arrangement, but they were the owner so I was stuck. I’d get dragged into conversations I didn’t want to be part of but didn’t feel I could leave without being rude. No horrors stories are anything but it was just hard on my mental health, especially as the owner took a strong dislike to my spouse (for reasons the owner admitted had nothing to do with my spouse and everything to do with their own need for control) and my spouse was the only emotional support I had. (My spouse was amazing, but also unhappy in the arrangement).

    The owner was a nice person, but if I did it again I’d insist on having a formal contract in place and drawing much stricter guidelines. I would also ensure I had a private kitchen; a lot of unwanted conversation happened when I was making dinner in the house’s main kitchen.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      The owner disliked your spouse because of a need for control? No, this is not a nice person.

  68. Sam*

    I work in a sector that expects frequent relocations. I’ve had to fend for myself on housing every time, so I was jealous of a friend in basically the same sector who won a fellowship that included housing. Except a week after she and all the fellows moved in the house was robbed empty. If that’s the kind of work they do picking housing I’ll keep dealing with the hassle of finding my own.

  69. Beth*

    The only time I lived in ‘shared housing’ with coworkers is when I worked at a summer camp–and then it was shared with the campers too, since being cabin counselors was part of the job! I wouldn’t do it now (sleeping in a room with 12 other people for a month sounds terrible now, just on a fundamental level) but it was fine when that was the thing I signed up for.

    BUT: one summer, a bat got in. Which is when I learned that if a bat gets in while people are sleeping, in the state the camp was in, you need to either 1. catch the thing, kill it, and send it into a state lab for rabies testing, or 2. assume there’s a chance it had rabies and have everyone who was in the room get rabies shots.

    We spent 24 hours trying to catch that thing. After that point, our resident bat-trained authority determined that even if we did catch one, we couldn’t be sure it was the same bat (especially since we hadn’t been able to tell for sure how it got in). So me, my fellow cabin counselors, and allllll the teenagers we were supervising had to get rabies shots.

  70. Avocado Toast*

    I lived one summer in a college dorm with a bunch of other interns. The dorm was fine and I didn’t have any complaints about my roommate or the other interns. The dorm had a tiny kitchen because it wasn’t really meant to be the sole source of food for 20-30 people, it was meant to supplement meal plans. We all did the best we could to cook in there. The company brought in a fridge for us, but with so many people it was PACKED FULL and couldn’t keep anything cold. Then they brought in a second fridge and that one didn’t work either. I used to keep my milk in the freezer and strategically place it in the fridge to defrost in advance of needing it for cooking.

    I ended up borrowing a dorm fridge from someone I knew whose parents happened to live nearby. I don’t know why they thought that many people who were living together could share one fridge – maybe they were thinking it was analogous to having one fridge in a kitchen at work, except that at work everyone isn’t storing all their groceries for the week.

  71. Let's Go Anon*

    I taught for several years at a small religious private college that offered on-campus housing for faculty and staff. It was pretty wild.

    You couldn’t have someone of the opposite sex with you stay overnight unless they were married to you. No, not even a relative; one woman got fired for having her brother stay with her without “permission.” Another one got in trouble for having her fiance park his car in her driveway. (He parked his car further away and sneaked in. She left after two years). There was a curfew for faculty so as “not to give students ideas,” and you basically couldn’t get maintenance done on your housing, no matter how badly it needed it, unless you either baked cookies for the maintenance men, if you were a woman, or gave them beer, if you were a man. (Store-bought cookies would be rejected). Recycling was actively discouraged even though each house or apartment had a recycling bin because “the Lord will make a new heaven and a new earth,” and there was no wheelchair accessibility for the people who needed that kind of thing in their houses because “Have you been to a faith healer?”

    The house I lived in was old and had termites, but I was told the termites couldn’t be eliminated because it would cost too much. Someone else had black mold in their apartment; again, same thing, it would cost too much. I was told over and over that everyone should be grateful for their housing because “the people here are the Lord’s chosen,” and “this is the center of the world.” I stayed as long as I did because the place had distinct advantages for me in a couple of ways- like, it was close to family and the position meant I got to teach lots of classes at different levels that I hadn’t at my previous position- but looking back on it, I wonder where my mind was.

    1. JustaTech*

      All of this has me screaming in my heart, but the thing that honestly surprises me is the beer. Most schools with these kinds of intense rules are also very anti-alcohol. (Thought living there would drive me to drink.)

  72. Science friend*

    This is actually pretty common in scientific field work- you live on site for a couple months or longer, and your employer provides your housing.
    It can be a great adventure when it’s good, but if it’s not going well with the other people it’s extremely isolating to be depending on the research project for housing and food and everything else.
    I did it three times (in Mexico, Costa Rica and Alaska). Costa Rica was wonderful, basically jungle camping with a bunch of crazy tropical scientists. Mexico looked good from a distance but there was a pretty big gap between what I thought I’d be doing and what they wanted me to do, and I left after 3 months into a planned year.

    Alaska was pretty tough. In AK I was a working for a tribal government and living in tribal housing– the tenants right next to me had a substance abuse/domestic violence problem but I didn’t feel like there was anyone I could go to when they would have screaming matches right outside my door. Occasionally they would get confused about whose door was whose and bang on my door and sit right in front of it. It was a really small community and literally no other options for me to live there. But I made it through and finished the project. It helped to build connections with other residents over time who validated that it was kind of a rough part of town to be living in.
    Good to have a support structure and exit strategy in place before you go, just in case!

  73. LCH*

    how did so many bad roommates come together in such a short span on time and also, i wonder how good they were at professional norms, dear god!

  74. Compass*

    We had to move out of ‘our’ house into another one which was smaller and not a nice for another member of staff. He didn’t want the smaller house so we were told we had to move for him!

    Then a year later we had to move out complete for another member of staff…before he moved in they completed a full refurb.

    Favouritism? NEVER! :D

  75. Pretzelgirl*

    My BFF got live in company provided housing when she did her masters. It was a basement apartment of an older building that, wasn’t too bad. IT was pretty small. Except it came with a GIANT (and I mean giant) big screen TV. Like the kind from the 90s. We haven’t a clue how it got in there. It was way too big be moved in or out. It remains a mystery. We have good memories of playing Mario cart on that gigantic big screen to this day.

  76. Ashley*

    I spent a summer working at a salmon hatchery in Alaska. It was very remote, they dropped you off in a little float plane and then picked you up in the same plane once your contract was done. We all lived on site, as there was not really an “off site” to go to. And we were mostly 20-somethings. Lots of drama, lots of drinking (though the company limited how much alcohol we could purchase), and apparently we were a fairly tame year compared to years past. I would not want to do it long term (or through an Alaskan winter), but it was a good experience. I work in natural resources and have lived in my fair share of field camps, they are always a weird blend of work and social life.

  77. Jules the First*

    I was an RA for a field school in Italy one semester – me, 17 girls who’d never been abroad before, and a 13th century stone building with no heating and staff who spoke no English. It was literally a month before we figured out we were meant to be washing our own sheets and towels…which had to be done by hand in the marble wash tubs in the attic.

    Then there was the grown-up job at the moderately well-known design firm whose owner used to take the family to their house abroad every summer…along with select members of staff who did two-week stints on site, crammed into the four tiny “guestrooms” in the basement (four bunk beds and one bathroom per room) where you were essentially on call from dawn to midnight and expected to socialise with the family when you weren’t working. Big boss was not as good a cook as he thought he was (plus the inherent weirdness of living with your boss and his family). And you’d get back from your two weeks and discover that all your clients had been told you were on holiday, so couldn’t then believably take actual time off during the summer. And the family pitched it as a perk – extra holiday on them! I had to work very very hard to contain myself the year I was asked to “give up” my slot in favour of someone else who didn’t normally go but whose project had gone sideways.

  78. Eng*

    I lived in partially subsidized intern housing one summer and honestly it wasn’t horrible (though I absolutely would never do it again as an adult). The worst part was interns rotated so tons of stuff never got cleared out because no one knew if it belonged to someone who was still there or not. From clothes to bags to the beer in the fridge. I also never quite figured out where the complex’s laundry room was, so I used the bougie laundry service at work instead…

  79. Reality Check*

    I’ve mentioned this place before. It was a resort, like in the movie Dirty Dancing, and a few hundred of us employees lived there. The men and women were kept in separate dorms.

    I was a waitress in the main dining room, and I had a dinner date with my waiter co-worker, Fergus. After our shift was over I went to my dorm and got all dressed and ready. Fergus never showed up. I thought “What is this guy nuts? Standing me on a date when we live and work together?” I was annoyed and decided to just go to bed.

    A few minutes later men started pouring into our dorm (it held 40 women and had a huge living room area) and asking if they could sleep on the floor. Turns out that back at the men’s dorm, Fergus had a load of laundry going. While he was waiting for it to finish, he sat on his bed smoking a cigarette. When he figured his clothes were dry, he put out the cigarette, tossed it in the trash, went to the Laundromat…. Except the cigarette wasn’t all the way out.
    Burned down the dorm, displaced more than 20 male employees, wrecked all their uniforms. Half of the guys couldn’t work the next day.

    And that’s why Fergus stood me up that night. He had quite forgotten about me by the time the firemen left. :)

  80. Newlywed*

    Eight years ago, the university department I worked for provided on-campus housing for its new hires, all of whom were 22 y.o. college grads. There was one house that women lived in and another for men, and the houses were around the corner from each other. Predictably, the situation didn’t exactly foster professionalism and good boundaries. Also predictably, two of the people started dating.

    The epilogue is that I was one half of that couple, we both eventually left that university, and we got married last month! So I guess not all employer-provided housing stories end in complete chaos!

  81. Saraaaaaah*

    Ha, I lived at some of the hostels I worked at in my early 20s, and oh boy. Most memorable was in a small town in New Mexico, where the boss would listen in on our work calls (only found that out after a month, hopefully just the work ones?), one of my coworkers and housemates would try to spiritually interrogate me, there was a guy in his 50s who was friends with some of my coworkers/housemates who creepily tried to hit on me and who I couldn’t avoid, the owner went off on an extended rant to someone about the evils of Israel outside my room one day (I am Jewish), and the day I was moving out, a former coworker called the owner’s phone at 7 am, pretending to be my mom, told him that someone in my family had died, so he wouldn’t get mad about her calling so early and would bring me the phone, because she wanted to invite me to breakfast before I left town?

  82. Parker*

    Ahaha! Afraid I only have non-exciting things to say about my intern housing situation. I was interning for a national park and they put us up in a 5-bedroom house on park property (it did only have 1 bathroom, but that somehow wasn’t ever a problem??). It was mix-gendered, the interns were all about the same age, early twenties, and we all had our own bedrooms. The number of beds occupied varied through the year-ish I was there, but I think there was usually at least 3 people in the house.

    There was like a 1-ish week period where the park had a park volunteer stay in the house and if you know what the average demographic of a park volunteer is….. Luckily, it was just awkward, I think the short time-period + it already being mix-gendered helped.

  83. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but living with a bunch of strangers sounds like my own personal hell. I wouldn’t have even liked it when I was younger. I’m not even a “let’s jam as many people into a rental for vacation” type of person – did it once, not a fan. I swear I’m not a hermit, but I need personal space and alone time on the regular.

    1. UKDancer*

      Me too.

      I lived in halls of residence with shared facilities as a student and hated it. As soon as I could possibly afford it I got a studio of my own. It was a tiny ramshackle attic of a Victorian house but it was mine and I didn’t have to deal with butter thieves, finding strange men at breakfast or people wearing my clothes without asking.

      I am not a hermit but I need space and time.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Same. Dorm life was my personal hell. I put up with a LOT of missing amenities for a private bedroom that locked. Like, literally lived in a rat infested basement happily.

    2. Not A Girl Boss*

      Not a minority. Did it for a summer, 0/10 would not recommend.
      My personal favorite was when the House Drunk would regularly block my car in, and another housemate broke his leg falling down the stairs and needed to go to the hospital and didn’t have insurance for an ambulance. So I said I’d drive him, but, blocked in. Had to go into Drunkie’s room and steal the keys out of his pocket (ick). Got as far as sitting in his car to move it and realized I have no idea how to drive a stick. Bloody nightmare.
      And, like you, I’ve never one had an enjoyable friend-share vacation.

  84. Barbara Eyiuche*

    I used to teach English in South Korea, and it was normal there for the foreign teachers to live in school-provided accommodation. Generally, it was pretty bad. One school owner could not afford an apartment for me, so paid for me to live in a love hotel. At another school, the owner had lived in the apartment before I got there, and instead of washing dishes he would just put the dirty dishes on the balcony. Another foreign teacher also lived there before I did, and could not figure out what to do with the garbage, so she just put it in the back room. When I moved in, I spent a day cleaning. There were empty bottles piled up waist high in the back room.

    1. Green Goose*

      I just wrote in about my South Korea living experience too. How long did you have to live in a love hotel? I only had to stay in one for two weeks when I first arrived and that was enough.

  85. Alexis Rose*

    I’ve had to share accommodations for work a few times throughout my career. As a student, working in remote field conditions where hotels weren’t really a thing, myself and my boss (a middle aged man) were housed in a hunting cabin with one bathroom. It was honestly very fine, we got along really well despite the age difference. The worst part about it honestly was that there wasn’t really “down time” from your boss. We lived together for pretty much four months straight two summers in a row.

    On another occasion, I did two weeks of training at a facility that had accommodations on site, and it was a toss of a coin if you got a room that had its own bathroom or shared a bathroom with the next room. One toilet and one shower and two people’s schedules was a little hard sometimes. The second time I went back to the same facility I left a little note on the bathroom counter introducing myself. “Hi! My name is Alexis. I’m here for the Llama Grooming course and I shower at night!” The other person responded and said “Hi! My name is ALSO Alexis and I’m here for Advanced Llama Behaviour and I shower in the morning!” That little bit of communication with a person who I had to sort of live around but otherwise never met made a big difference in terms of making sure I had access when I needed it. Fortunately, they seemed to try and make sure that men shared bathrooms with other men, and women with women, but there were a few of my course-mates who were sharing with someone of another gender who was a complete stranger that made some people feel a little weird.

    The worst experience I had was more a bathroom horror story. I was working on fishing boats and your digestion gets a little messed up with weird hours, different food, seasickness etc. When people got back to the shared land house sometimes things got a little graphic as your system sorted itself out. So picture 21 year old me, old rental house with an ancient plumbing system, no plunger, absolutely exhausted and feeling kind of off, still getting my land legs back after being at sea for a week, in a house with a bunch of other 20-somethings men…….. Not one of my finer moments. I think I cried on the bathroom floor because I didn’t want to leave the bathroom to go look for a plunger and risk someone going in after me and finding things still unresolved. Eventually I had to call my boss and ask where one was kept because everyone else in the house at that time was also new and had no idea. Funny now. Traumatizing at the time.

  86. TheSkriker*

    I gigged a lot in theater in my twenties and hoo boy do I have Stories. They really run the full gamut from awesome to insane/illegal/reprehensible.

    I was apparently the only intern not sleeping with another intern during my season living in our theater company’s shared housing. Despite what that may imply, it was a wonderful, low-drama/high-creativity/supportive experience and we are all still very friendly and keep in touch a decade later.

    I spent a season living in a cabin behind a rural summer theater that was built by the local youth-prison-diversion program. My neighbors were a flock of wild turkeys, some giant weasel/bear-looking monstrosity called a fisher, and a dude who rode an ATV to work. I waged a five-month battle of attrition against the mouse colony that saw me as an unwelcome interloper in their home. These suckers were agile, ruthless, and SMART. The cabin walls were rough-hewn and they could literally climb them and jump on you while you slept. Put your food in plastic tubs? They’d push them off the counter to break them open. I gave up the night that they built a bridge of woodchips over my moat of sticky-traps and stole the bait from the middle.

    The worst one I recall, my room was unheated in the dead of winter in upstate NY, I was regularly offered hard drugs, the longest-serving staff member had been there 3 months, and at least one person was living in effective slavery in company housing as part of a work-release prison program :( I dipped after two weeks, the last I heard the workers were suing.

  87. Leap Day Highway*

    For one summer job as a student, I lived in a Forest Service bunkhouse in Montana. The human housemates were, on the whole, excellent. However, a bear broke into the house one night and ate my granola.

  88. Tsunade*

    In my early 20s, I worked for a company that had a satellite office (really more of a mini-HQ) in NYC. I was asked to go to the NYC office for about six weeks when we acquired another company and help onboard their staff, etc. Rather than putting me up in a hotel, the CEO told me to stay in the corporate apartment. It was a really nice place – fully furnished, close to work, gorgeous view of the river… so the physical space wasn’t the issue.

    The problem was the two-bedroom apartment was also being used as a landing pad for all of the sales guys (yes, they were all men) when they were in town visiting clients. The room I slept in had one bed, and the other room had three beds, and there was a pull-out couch in the living room. For SIX WEEKS, I never knew who was going to be walking in the door late at night, or who would be there when I came in. I think there was only a handful of nights I was alone.

    Something incredibly uncomfortable happened one night (shocker!) and I wish I had had the courage to speak out about it at the time, but I was afraid of losing my job. It’s been almost 20 years and it still crosses my mind from time to time.

  89. Santa Dolores*

    Just to have a good example as well…
    The company I work for offers housing for interns and those internationals who have just relocated to the country (we are 50+ nationalities and the company actively seeks out foreign talent as well). Interns can stay for the whole of their internships while full-timers get 3 months. The rent is heavily subsidized by the company and the location is great.
    No horror stories, just interns becoming very good friends, exploring the city together.
    I should ask the office admin if she has any tea to spill but everyone I know from the housing (intern or full-timer) has been super reasonable.

  90. Sit in Syrup*

    Oh, the memories. I spent a good chunk of time in my twenties doing natural resource work in remote places. The bunkhouse was often the only housing of any kind within 20+ miles, and the accommodations were part of the pay, so there were not a lot of alternatives. The wildlife was sometimes great (bears in the backyard!) and sometimes not (how can there be that many mosquitoes *inside*?).

    By far, the more interesting aspect was the people. There were the mansplainers – one senior citizen painstakingly explained to me how to scrub a toilet, and I realized halfway through that he just using a brush and water, no cleaner. There were the absent-minded college bros – they were told so. many. times. to keep their food protected from mice and surprise, surprise, the mice got into the cereal left on the counter. There was the guy forgot to mention he didn’t have a personal vehicle, meaning we had to schlep him to the grocery store and back. There were legendary tales of “last year’s techs”, including a woman who did taxidermy in the bathroom.

    There were some good experiences too – we power washed and then filled a horse trough with fresh water, which made for an excellent swim on a hot day. There was a Peace Corps volunteer who coaxed a beautiful garden out the dust and made rabbit stew from her competition. There was a spot to sit and watch birds swooping in at sunset to a secret roosting spot out in the marsh. I learned how to brand cattle and kayak with alligators and pull a truck out of the mud. All-in-all, it was a good experience, but it definitely has made me appreciate the privacy and quiet of my current life.

  91. It Was Summer Theater...*

    That time a coworker took all the doorknobs off the building, which made the house unable to be locked, and which was on the property of a resort just off the Appalachian Trail, so a lot of off ducks came through. I kept my valuables locked to my (bunk) bed.

  92. GalFriday*

    I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said already about being a resident assistant in college (2 years). Oh the things that people did to themselves and each other! It did prepare me well for my career in crisis communications, with my first job being in disaster preparedness and response. :o)

  93. Zanele Ngwenya*

    Where my Peace Corps people at? My host country culture meant you were either living with host families in rural villages (and all the financial pressures you might feel to support your host family), in teacher housing in schools, or in swanky (rooms! electricity! water! mango trees! privacy!) company housing in company towns. Needless to say, LOTS of healthy/safety/cost variation among volunteers, but there was never a differentiation in stipend. I regret nothing and am glad for the experience I had. It just seemed impossible to ever make the tiny stipend given for survival purposes equitable. I remember there was a big to-do about period products costing female volunteers more (it’s true- tampons were crazy expensive there) and female volunteers pointing out that they should be included as part of the medical package.

    1. nymitz*

      By the time I was a volunteer, they were! Well, tampons weren’t – but med would give you a menstrual cup. They would also give you pads but they were the terrible, bulky, don’t-fit-anyone medical kind. I think every one of us took the cup option. Less mess for disposal, too, because we had open-air pit latrines and they would fill up over time.

  94. Veryanon*

    I used to work for a company that provided summer housing for international students that we would hire for our locations in high-tourist areas (think the NJ shore). I didn’t manage that program (thankfully), but the stories I heard from the person who did would turn your hair white. Add in the element of having to manage getting work visas for all of these students, and it was a really thankless task. Yikes.

  95. TechWorker*

    I lived in company provided housing twice, for two summer internships. Both were university accommodation that was otherwise empty for the summer.

    One was like halls (big kitchen, shared living space) and as I got on with the other interns, generally a good experience.

    The other I shared a ‘flat’ with three other interns, one of whom was the weirdest relationship I’ve ever had with a colleague… she would jump between being friendly and us getting on well to snapping at me, making snide comments whenever I said anything and some frankly bizarre stuff in the workplace. (In response to me on a group project saying I’d have a look at something done in photoshop because I was interested, I got an email two seconds later being like ‘you can’t just LEARN photoshop you know.’ um okay, I only wanted to have a look? And presumably people do infact learn to use it….). We also got into an accidental argument (accidental because I assumed it was uncontroversial and mentioned it in relation to something else) over whether the difficulty of the subject we both studied was identical across all universities. (It’s not.)

    It was pretty unpleasant because you know, I was an adult and the standard method of dealing with people you don’t get on with is to avoid spending too much time with them, which is difficult when you both work together and sleep in the room next door. 10/10 would not repeat.

  96. BoneThugg*

    In many states, employer-sponsored housing is exempt from landlord-tenant laws. From a practical standpoint, this means that your employer can enter your living quarters without notice, fail to provide a habitable dwelling, and evict you with no notice.

    Years ago I learned this the hard way when I lost my job as an on-site manager of an apartment complex. I was informed of my termination during a meeting at corporate HQ, and returned home to find the locks changed and all of my possessions piled outside in the rain.

  97. AnonEngineer*

    At the turn of the century, many of our plants still had guest houses associated with them. The main purpose was to accomodate visiting big bosses and customers. There was one, called Newlands on the North East coast of the UK that was a former opulant Victorian mansion, and even had a little frame with the menu served to Princess Mary when she visited sometime in the 60’s. When customers sent inspectors over, much effort would be spent to keep them “entertained”. However, when our central techincal function needed to visit we could stay if there was space, as we would not then need to incur the expenses of a hotel.

    I loved going up there, huge bedrooms, each with a seperate bathroom, 3 course meals with wine. The bar arrangement was simple: there was a well stocked cupboard and you helped yourself. Unfortunately customers started demanding product in 120 metre lengths with no welds so they decided to relocate rather than building out into the Irish Sea. I think the house itself is flats now.

  98. naivehelga*

    Oh man, I’m so excited! I was a residence hall counselor at a boarding high school – I had two whole rooms AND a bathroom to myself in the honors dorm, and my first two years there, I lucked into the ONE counselor room with a door to the outside world (versus a door into a hallway or lobby).
    Probably the most absurd aspect of this life was the work-around of “no drinking alcohol in your room” – the hall staff was given a cabin on the outskirts of the school property to do with as we pleased. SO MUCH debauchery in that cabin. Imagine 17 people who are basically forced to spend their free time together (because the really amazing people you’d want to be friends with were all 17 years old), stick them in the middle of the woods, and tell them “whatever happens in this cabin stays in this cabin.”
    Another random tidbit: my colleague filed a labor dispute and we wound up being subject to “maritime law” and getting bonuses, because anyone who worked the front desk of their dorm from 5-7 PM would miss the entirety of the dinner hour. The original solution was “get a kid to bring you back a PB&J.” I’m forever grateful to the righteous indignation of that colleague.

  99. Green Goose*

    I taught English in South Korea about ten years ago and housing came with my contract. We couldn’t pick where we lived, it was just whatever the school owned. There were definitely a lot of awkward language barrier moments, for example the landlord who did not speak English (and I did not speak Korean) would text that he was coming over at 10am, but then would show up at 8am and come in as I was yelling “no, wait!” as I tried to find pants.

    One time a plumber came over while I was at school and used my bathroom and left shitty toilet paper in the bathroom. But the worst was at my second contract, stuff started getting moved around my apartment and I asked the owner of the school about it and she said that the landlord wasn’t going in there. So, it was obvious that he was but they both just lied about it. Very creepy. Nothing was ever taken, just things moved around and one time there was a sock in my bathroom that I had not put there. Just overall creepy stuff, and the landlord knew when I was not home because he knew I worked at the school during set hours.

  100. Turanga Leela*

    I used to teach at a school on a reservation. Many reservations have very limited housing for people who aren’t members of the tribe, so some reservation schools have “teacherages”—like an orphanage, but for teachers, I used to say. I lived in a teacherage for a couple of years. There were pros and cons.

    Pros: I had my own little house, which was extremely inexpensive (a few hundred dollars a month). I lived very close to work. My rent and utilities were automatically deducted from my paycheck, so they were never late.

    Possibly pro, possibly con: My coworkers were also my neighbors. A lot of them were recent college graduates. We were in a small rural town without much to do. The parties on weekends were legendary.

    Cons: The buildings were poorly constructed. My neighbor’s pipes froze, burst, and flooded his house. There was something weird about my house’s foundation, so weeds used to grow through the floor. Technology was its own issue. In theory, there was high-speed internet, but in practice, it was the same internet that served the school, and it was heavily, absurdly firewalled. Sites with any sexual content were blocked (so, no pornography, but also you couldn’t read Savage Love), as were any sites that mentioned gambling or alcohol. They blocked more and more websites as time went on; at one point, they blocked access to my bank account. If you tried to visit a blocked website, you would be redirected to a page with a giant, creepy eye to let you know you were being watched. I gave up and used my phone’s cellular data plan for everything.

  101. Alaska Summers*

    I lived on-site a couple of times when I was working in hospitality in Alaska. The first year was at a swanky resort (there is no town there, as it’s close to Denali NP – Glitter Gulch, if you know it – so employees live onsite as a matter of course) and it was a little more college-with-a-roommate than I liked but fine. There was a constant low-grade effort to fire people, once you got to a certain point in the summer, because the contracts said that if you completed the contract or got fired the resort paid your way home but if you quit you were on your own on that one, but it was pretty minimal, and mostly it resulted in a standoff between management and the worst staffers. A couple staffers cracked, but more had trouble with the isolation and the housing situation because you just had a random room assignment, and people who work transient hospitality in Alaska, especially at the lower levels, are not always the most considerate, or even the most minimally acceptable, people on this earth. (Once you’re talking about the permacrew who rotate between Hawaii and Alaska or the valuable crew like the chefs and the piano player, that’s very different and they’re royalty.)

    The second year I worked at a campground in the same area and I started the summer in a cabin, one of three that adjoined – it was one long building with three separate cabins in it. I was in the middle, I think, but either way I shared a wall with a woman who worked in Housekeeping who was living there with her two or three kids, and eventually her husband, who was abusive. So that was fun!

    I don’t even remember exactly how it went down because this was 2001 in the middle of Alaska and I used calling cards to call everywhere, plus I don’t even know that 911 would have worked, and I have no clue who the relevant police agency would have been (North Star Borough?) but I do remember that I was responsible for the husband being arrested and jailed pending trial, after which I was moved to a trailer on the property that was really quite nice except that it had no running water and the toilets were a quarter mile away and I wake up needing to pee every day. The move was presented as for my benefit; I have no idea if it really was or if the wife wanted to stab me in the eye. I was working in housekeeping at the resort across the highway and the office at the campground; I wasn’t around a lot and I don’t remember our paths crossing after that. At any rate, I liked the trailer, minus the lack of toilet thing, so I’m choosing that it was in fact for my benefit.

    Then 9/11 happened and I got stranded in a hostel in Anchorage (because my flight back home was September 12th at 12:40 AM) and thank god my brother and his wife were living in Alaska and had friends in Anchorage because once we started to realize how long the airports were likely to be closed, I decided I couldn’t take the hostel for the entire unknown length of time, so I called a friend of my brother’s who agreed to house me until the airport opened (or I got a rental car and drove the hell home but the border with Canada was closed and also I was 23). I hung up the phone, turned around, and the husband was staring at me from across the common room. I have never been so glad as to have a ride on the way.

  102. Radical Edward*

    I lived for several years in company-subsidised apartments (not in the US). It wasn’t a roommate situation, but in my area some employees lived in the same apartment building, and in my case my co-worker was actually my next-door neighbor. I really lucked out because my first coworker was as silent as a mouse, extremely responsible and considerate. They even shared their wifi with me until I got my own set up.

    The walls in that place were paper-thin; the building even had a rule about not running washing machines after 11pm due to the noise and vibration. So when my second co-worker moved in after the first one was transferred elsewhere, I had to get used to a bit more noise, slamming doors and thumping in the kitchen and such, but still nothing unreasonable. The one thing that could have ruined my life is, it turned out that Second Co-worker smoked, and since smoking indoors would have incurred ruinous cleaning fees from the management company, Second Co-worker smoked on their balcony. Directly next to mine. Where my laundry had to be hung out to dry. (This is the implicit purpose of balconies where we lived; someone actually sitting on their tiny, open apartment balcony or otherwise using it for recreation in a building like ours would be considered deeply weird and potentially elicit complaints from other residents.)

    After waking up to the smell of cigarette smoke wafting through my screen door and permeating my clean clothes, I knocked on Second Co-worker’s door and explained the issue. I apologised for what probably seemed a pushy request but pointed out that in all the time I had lived in the building, I had never once smelled smoke (and smoking is very prevalent where we were living), so it was likely that the other residents wouldn’t care to be subjected to it either.

    I was extremely fortunate; Second Co-worker listened and apologised for not considering those things. After that they smoked in the parking lot around the corner, or somewhere else far from the building. It helped that another coworker, living in a different building nearby, also smoked and had made the decision to eat the cleaning costs associated with smoking indoors. He explained balcony etiquette to Second Co-worker and they commiserated over the trials of smoking in comfort, but never again did I smell smoke in my apartment.

    I was two for two on good neighbors at that point, so it took me a while to fully appreciate just how awful it would have been if Second Co-worker had refused to budge on the smoking. At best, ruined my ability to use my own balcony or open my windows; at worst, ruined our working relationship and my own health (I am violently allergic to tobacco smoke, to the point of not being able to go inside establishments where smoking is allowed). After we both transferred elsewhere I made sure Second Co-worker knew how much I appreciated their considerate behavior and general good-neighbor-ness. I still live in fear of smoking neighbors who have no such care for others. It’s not always just about people not liking the smell!

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      What a good neighbor!

      One of the things I was most glad for when we bought our house was to never again have to smell pot smoke coming from neighbors. We had a horrible string of 4 apartments in a row where people smoked pot inside and the smell just seemed to magically permeate through walls.

      We now have a next door neighbor who smokes (regular and pot) off their back deck which happens to be next to our bedroom window, but at least that’s only a summertime problem.

      1. Radical Edward*

        Oh no, that must have been horrible! Glad to hear it’s less intrusive now.

        My allergy to tobacco smoke is actually one aspect of a blanket allergy to burning plant matter (the greener it is the worse my reaction, so pot is… Not Good). I don’t know what I would do if a neighbor ever actually put me in that situation, but I would probably have to relocate.

  103. Frideag Dachaigh*

    Summer internship a few years ago, the program put all 15 of us up in this weird mega dorm situation- basically a dorm within a dorm, so basically a bunch of doubles with connecting bathrooms along a hallway with, a GIANT kitchen and a living room, all behind a locked door so only our program had access to it. I LOVED it. The program targeted a specific minority, many of whom had not spent significant amounts of time with other people of that minority. So we learned a lot just by living together, hanging out, learning how we each navigated the world, etc. It definitely lead to lot’s of awkward moments, some small fights, lots of usually “a bunch of college students shoved in a dorm together” vibes. The main awkward part about it was our once a week evening lecture/class/presentation also took place in the dorm. So the internship coordinator was there, caterers would sometimes be coming in, support staff, lecturers that included heads of nonprofits or government employees. Having them in our space definitely made it a little weirder.
    The next summer I was there again interning within the organization instead of as a part of their placement program, and we lived in much more normal dorm setups. I just had to spend the entire summer convincing the other interns that I wasn’t a spy???

  104. dermestids needed*

    I roomed with budding vertebrate paleontologists in a small town. I was excited because it was a minimum wage job AND housing (instead of “experience” and “food stipend”). There were 5 (occasionally 6) of us staying in a house in South Dakota in the summer with one window air unit. We had to keep the blinds down/windows shut because there was a well-known peeping tom who worked on the maintenance crew and would COMPLAIN that the shades were always down. He wasn’t subtle about it, but was protected because of family connections. (Not subtle as in he drove a brand-new riding lawn mower into a tree, totaling it, because he “was watching a girl with a really cute ass!” They did suspend him for that incident, but only because it cost thousands.)
    I was the last intern at the end of the summer, and I had the job of cleaning the place. This is where the vertebrate-paleontologists-in-training part matters. They loved to get comparative skeletons of different creatures, and road kill in decent shape is a cheap way to do it. We had two refrigerators for 6 people; one in the kitchen, and one in the back hallway. They (unbeknownst to me) would put their roadkill in the back hall freezer for later, which never came, because they moved on without their unprocessed treasures. The non-frost-free freezer was pretty much a solid block of ice at the end of the summer. Most of the stuff was embedded into the ice, which I had to chisel out – or let it thaw and try not to puke as I cleaned out opossum, raccoon, and bird bodies.

  105. DCGirl*

    I worked in college and university fund raising for years at the start of my career, and one now-defunct women’s college in Washington, DC, would let new staff members live on campus because 1) enrollment was down, meaning empty dorm rooms, and 2) the cost of living in DC is high, so finding an affordable apartment on non-profit wages can be a challenge. There were about eight rooms above the dining hall that were reserved for staff, and it was a real mix of everyone from two maintenance workers to a recently relocated vice president.

    The thing I remember most is that I got special permission to bring my cat, Cissy, with me (pets were normally a no-no). Cissy became something of a campus celebrity that year, sitting in my window directly above the entrance to the dining.

    At another women’s college in DC, one wing of the main building was a convent for the nuns who worked at the school, which I guess counts as living at work. Students liked to dare each other to sneak into the convent. There was one rather forbidding nun who hiss, “This is how they got me, you know,” whenever she caught a girl who’d sneaked in. She traumatized generations of students that way.

  106. Elwing*

    I lived in company housing two times, both as an intern.

    One I used more as a crash pad for long days and early mornings. Two hours after she handed me the key the employee responsible for the house called me that it was terribly messy and needed cleaning asap. So that was fun. One of my roommates turned out to be unable to smell, so he had me smell foodstuffs to be sure they were still edible.

    The other house I lived in for a year full time. It was pretty well equipped and clean. The craziest thing that happened while we lived there was some other male interns shouting under the window in the middle of the night deliberately waking us all up. When we watched a movie my roommate always wanted to choose and she ALWAYS picked Twilight. So it wasn’t very eventful all in all.

  107. Quickbeam*

    I was a hall director at a university with a provided apartment. It was sweet….bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, dining room. The problem was that the director before me had gone home to her parents every weekend. I’m an orphan, this was my home. The residents expected to use my apartment for sexual trysts on the weekends, as they had the year before. The expectations never let up and I left after a year. Stop banging on my door at 3 AM!

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      I’m… so confused by this.

      Why were they banging on the door? Did they not realize the apartment was occupied?
      The previous year, how did this arrangement work? Did they wash the sheets when they were done?? Did the previous hall director know this was happening in her bedroom??? NVM, I don’t want to know.

    2. Mama Bear*

      Wow, that is awful. They kept harassing you for a YEAR? Literally get a room. Any OTHER room.

  108. Yayaya*

    No personal stories to add, but I’m hoping someone from Aramark Yosemite might be reading & willing to share an update on the current situation. Wondering how folks are doing re: possible evictions and/or relocation from houses to tents. . .

  109. Not A Girl Boss*

    Years ago, I got my college friend (he is no longer my friend, you will see why) an internship at my mom’s (large corporation). The corporation provided housing. Somehow, my mom ended up being the ‘intern shepherd’ for the year.

    The first two nights in a row, one intern’s cooking (it was *very* authentic cuisine from his home country) gave another intern an asthma attack. So they had to give the asthmatic intern his own private apartment.

    But the biggest problem was that, for one reason or another, none of the group of 5 interns could drive. I don’t know why they all accepted a job, after being told in no uncertain terms that the company location made it impossible to get by without a car, and that there was no housing available walking distance to the company. It was a rural location.

    Anyway, my mom, who is not getting paid extra for this, just out of the goodness of her heart, offers to drive them into the office every day. She dealt with problems like:
    -Them not being ready to go on time, ever
    -Them not being ready to leave on time, ever
    -Them asking her to stop on the way home and run all sorts of errands for them, take them grocery shopping, and stop for coffee on the way in in the morning
    -One day, her A/C broke, and they all threw petty fits about how hot it was and how unreasonable these work conditions were
    -She had to make two trips because the asthmatic person also could not be trapped in a non-air-conditioned-car with the person who’s sweat smelled like spices, I guess?
    -On the last day, they just got out and walked into the house without so much as a passing “thanks.”

  110. Long Time Reader, First Time Commenter*

    I finally have a contribution!

    I worked for a niche little startup with a quirky owner/CEO. Our biggest client was a large organization headquartered in the Midwest, while our startup was based on the East Coast. My job, and others on my team, involved traveling to the client several times a year, for a few days or a full week.

    The CEO was close professionally, and personally, with a major figure in the client organization. They’d met through the CEO’s previous job, became and stayed friends, and then reconnected professionally through the startup. That friendship was basically the entire reason the company existed, and the entire reason the client contracted with us – the influence of this one figure in the organization.

    So whenever we would travel to the client, the CEO would have an agreement with the friend that some of the staff, rather than booking hotels, would instead stay in a condo owned by the friend. I stayed in this condo every time I travelled – sometimes with my boss (!), sometimes with my supervisee (!!). The condo had two usable bedrooms – a master with it’s own bathroom, but with GLASS DOORS leading to the living area, and a loft space WITH A HALF-WALL overlooking the same living area. Not a lot of privacy for when you’re staying with friends or family, let alone with coworkers.

    Made more awkward that the condo was owned by the CEO’s friend, who was also Very Important Figure at the client we were there working for, and the CEO themself often stayed in the condo between our visits. We would have to sometimes throw away the CEO’s leftovers that they had left before, perform errands for the CEO’s friend (think – “can you make sure the garage door is functioning correctly, and take pictures of the back patio?”), do laundry, etc.

    The best/worst part that I’ll end with: I arrived for one visit with my boss (thankfully, she and I were close, and had become personal friends having worked together at a previous job as well), and while she went to unpack in her room, I went to pull fresh sheets out of the dryer for us to make our beds. And what did I find in with the sheets? Our CEO’s underwear. Not knowing what else to do (we were going to need to use the dryer ourselves during the stay), I carefully folded them and left them to the side and tried not to think about it anymore.

    1. Long Time Reader, First Time Commenter*

      I should add – no TV, no internet (we brought a mobile hotspot), no trash pickup (we brought our trash with us to work each morning, and threw it away in the parking garage!)

  111. Lygeia*

    I did a 3 month internship at a non-profit in Palestine right after grad school, and the international staff and interns all lived in a large apartment on the top floor of the non-profit’s building. It was…fine. We had our own bedrooms and our own bathrooms, which helped, but the wifi was spotty so you could only access it in the main areas really (so private skype calls home were impossible).

    The biggest thing though was that there was no way to get away from your boss! The intern coordinator lived right along with us, and it was just, ugh! I don’t want my supervisor there during my down time, especially after a stressful day at work. And often she was a large part of the stress!

    Definitely something that was only bearable because I was so young and early in my professional life.

  112. Ms. Frizzle*

    I have done this twice. Once in housing provided by the National Park Service for seasonal employees and then in an apartment in the dorms at a residential high school.
    My family knows the NPS house as “Camp Silver Lake”. Highlights include the mice infesting the kitchen that no one but I cleaned, one (much older) coworker being weirdly emotionally dependent on me for everything, and some lost tubers wandering in through the backdoor that a coworker left unlocked.
    The dorm apartment was trouble in other ways. I was required to have an office phone -that my manager had set to intercom/speaker without telling me. Was watching an HBO show when all of a sudden I was having a conversation with my boss??? Without the phone ringing??? There were several other boundary violations, not limited to my manager trying to prevent me from getting a VERY critical service dog because she didn’t like dogs and thought having a “pet” would distract from my work in the residence hall.

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      I did this one to myself, it wasn’t work related, but I once subletted an apartment for the summer, only to find out to my GREAT HORROR that there was a family of mice living INSIDE the mattress I was to sleep on. Which of course I found out at 2am.
      Believe it or not that wasn’t even the worst part of the sublet. There’s a reason its so cheap to sublet frat houses over the summer in Boston…

      1. Mama Bear*

        I once sublet a room in a house for the summer. The only other summer resident had to move suddenly and I bought a TV when they left to replace the only TV I had access to (we had been friends, so we shared the TV no problem). Shortly before we were allowed back into on-campus housing, another resident returned. He begged me to leave my (brand new) TV for him…because he would be bored all alone with no TV. I told him to figure it out.

        However, the mice win, no contest. EW.

      2. JustaTech*

        A college roommate of mine lived in a Boston frat one summer for a internship. She had many amazing stories about the people she lived with, the but most amazing to me was that the frat was all wall-to-wall carpet, but there was no vacuum cleaner, just a broom.
        The frat boys disposed of their beer bottles by throwing them at one corner and letting the broken glass just accumulate into the carpet. And they *rented it out* in that condition.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          The guy who subletted to me was not only not-horrified to find out mice had been living in his matress… He was genuinely confused about why I’d tossed his mattress and deducted rent for a new one. Also a bunch of the other frat Bros who hadn’t been able to sublet just… Stopped paying their rent. So the landlord came to try to evict us. It was quite a situation. The whole house was so filthy dirty that it was impossible to get clean. I spent 4 days just scrubbing a path to tiptoe to my room in, and then lived on takeout pizza for the rest of the summer because that kitchen was a lost cause. There were about 20 rotting full banana peels inside the dishwasher. Like they didn’t know you had to toss the banana peels before loading the plate in the dishwasher???

    2. Alaska Summers*

      You know, I assume you mean “inner tubers” there, but I have to admit I spent longer than I want to admit trying to figure out how potatoes could walk in a door anywhere, unlocked or not.

  113. Gumby*

    I had one summer job during college that provided housing. I was an SAT prep course teacher/coordinator. I was put up in a not-horrible residential hotel in Los Angeles with some of the students who were from out of town (separate rooms, same floor). Not the fanciest but not gross to me at the time; today I probably have higher standards. The housing was not the issue with that job. The students were well behaved and caused no problems. We ate breakfast and dinner, which were bland but edible, in the hotel. The company bought me take out for lunch which, thinking back, was part of my compensation but I still felt a bit guilty taking it since that hadn’t been specifically stated and the non-hotel-staying teachers brought their own lunches.

    The problem with the job was that it was a really weird set up where the teaching ‘curriculum’ provided was merely copied pages from a variety of SAT books, so I am sure some sort of copyright violation, and fairly disorganized. The other teachers and I knew it was wrong and talked about how to handle it. Mostly we tried to reduce dependence on the other books and impose some sort of structure. But we were all counting on the summer job to pay tuition the next year so quitting didn’t seem like an option.

    Also the owner asked me to not cash my final two paychecks right away. And… I didn’t. I waited until he said I could cash the penultimate one and finally cashed the last paycheck about a month later when my mom found out I was still holding on to it and talked some sense into me.

    Objectively this was a pretty awful job, right? Yet I honesty feel a vague fondness for it.

  114. Kat*

    I worked and lived at a university, as a director of some of the residence halls. We, as fully adult staff not students, had to get our mail in the student mail room. One of the mail room employees was very creepy toward me and went as far as to use the university systems to look up my personal information and made a very unsafe environment for me getting my personal mail. I brought my concerns to my supervisor and his supervisor as well. It later came up on my performance evaluation for my job as “needing to improve campus partner relationships”. Which is why I was never able to bring issues about my employer provided apartment facilities concerns as that would also show up as inappropriate campus partner interactions, though would be normal if it were with a landlord off campus. Just a small taste of the hellscape that is behind the scenes of higher education.

  115. Ule*

    Oh gawd. I once worked for a university doing research. Because it was environmental research in a remote place, all the researchers shared a camp. They placed men and women in the same camp using shared facilities in this day and age with no training of any kind on sexual harassment or rules on how to act in the camp.

    Low and behind eventually there was a situation where one person accused another person of harassment. In the end 3 lives were ruined. The 2 people who were involved in the incident and the most senior person who didn’t report it correctly. I don’t think any of these people will work in that industry again.

  116. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    My second ever job was “all found”, working in a school, and I’d say around a third of the staff lived in. There was a great community as a result – we did a Christmas play for the children, and a spring talent show, as well as socialising together.

    It was a great perk for me then, as I was saving up to go to university and had basically no expenses to consider. In my country your benefits in kind can’t take you more than a smidgen under minimum wage, so I was able to live comfortably and save up.

    Also, I was living in a much, much nicer part of the city than I could otherwise have afforded: Zoopla tells me the house is now worth around US$5m and it was glorious with high ceilings and period features etc. It was near the nice shops and a row of independent restaurants and pubs, but also the big park and the river, and comfortable walking distance or quick bus ride into the centre.

    But it was very hard to ever be off duty as we each had so little private space and meals were necessarily public. Also, older staff always made sure to keep an owned place somewhere, anywhere, anything, however small and cheap, just to be on the property ladder. I think their rental income rarely exceeded their costs on those places, but the equity in them was always important.

  117. SophieChotek*

    I lived for just over three-months in company provided housing.
    Not just in company-provided housing, but literally in the company offices itself.

    I was training/interning/working my probation period at the company HQ.

    The company corporate offices were in a very old building (tall and narrow) that used to be small apartments,
    So the company owned/rented several “apartments” that had been renovated (more or less) to become offices, of various sizes. Some of the other apartments were still apartments. (This was in Asia, where zoning laws were different.)
    The “apartment” where I was in, was, during the daytime, a meeting room for small meetings (2-6 people).
    The bathroom was off the “meeting room” and a tiny bedroom was also off the “meeting room.”
    It was very tiny: as in literally the was the length and width of the bed – the bed literally touched the wall on 3 sides (the bed was like a wooden shelf that had been build into a walk in closet).

    It was not ideal, but I survived for 3 months, I didn’t have to pay anything for housing or do any cleaning (the company cleaning lady cleaned the bathroom every other day).

  118. Gnope!*

    I spent two years as a performer on national tours. [I can’t believe this was nearly two decades ago…] These were not Hamilton level tours. :) We were in a new city every 3-7 days, staying in standard hotel rooms. When we occasionally stayed at a Residence Inn or similar, it felt palatial. We paid a subsidized room rate out of our earnings, so occasionally to save money we would cram 4 of us in a standard, 2 double bed hotel room. Most of the time, though, I just had 1 other roommate. The worst offense my first roommate committed was drunkenly bringing 2 local guys back to our room at 2am on Thanksgiving. I feigned sleeping until they left half an hour later.
    We often had no access to transportation (this was before ride share or smart phones), other than to get to work, and hotels back then did not often have mini fridges and microwaves like they do now. So we had to great creative with meals. My first year, we went to restaurants constantly, which was obviously expensive. But my second year, I traveled with “my kitchen” – hot plate, camping pans, utensils, electric kettle. Did you know you can make a grilled cheese with a little foil and a hotel iron? You’re welcome.
    It was challenging to live, work, and travel with the same people every hour of the day. But I also got to see the country and make some amazing friends.

  119. Slothy Coffee*

    Alison, is there a glitch in the comments section? I’m sure I saw some replies to an earlier message here that have now vanished. (Sorry, can’t remember which message it was!)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I removed some pretty unkind comments arguing with a commenter about her own story and locked that thread since it kept devolving into sniping.

  120. Big Bird*

    My son’s story–his first year as a ski resort employee in Colorado he lived with 3 roommates in corporate housing, since no one was earning enough to pay market rent. One was a born-again evangelical Christian who took him to Bible study, one had warrants out for his arrest in Florida and was only there for the legal weed, and one had a pet squirrel who was uncaged and trashed the apartment. Weed roommate had the attractive habit of trying to trick his roommates into consuming edibles, which would have jeopardized both jobs and public safety had it worked. WR went to Denver on his day off, got pulled over on the outstanding warrants, and was bailed out by Christian roommate. WR then lost his job but squatted in the apartment rent-free until someone ratted him out. He raided his roommates’ cash and electronics as he was being evicted. Squirrel ended up being rehomed and my son even got his security deposit back. Don’t know how. Year Two of his employment we chipped in to pay his rent in a real, roommate-free apartment. Worth every penny.

  121. FollowTheDay*

    TW: Drinking

    I work in theatre, where it is somewhat typical to be housed for the duration of rehearsals and performances. If you are union, there are contractual details concerning what must be provided. (My favorite of these rules is providing a colander as part of your kitchen set-up.)

    But this story is about some of the non-union housing I lived in for four months. Most of the company lived in two bedroom apartments, sometimes three to a room. The bedrooms weren’t much larger than a small dorm room. I lucked out – because I was a department head and manager of about 75 people, I lived in an efficiency unit, but I still lived in very close proximity to most of the company. Most of the apartments were old and in less than optimal shape, made worse by 4-6 college students trying to live in a very small space.

    But definitely the worst part of living there was the endless partying that went on outside in a common area between several of the apartment buildings. Most evenings had casual gatherings, but every Saturday was a big blowout themed party. I was typically at least six years older than the average company member (and out of college), and binge drinking was not something I was super interested in. But it also wasn’t my job to police anyone’s drinking or sexual activity. As long as it was consensual (and the organization was actually very strict about sexual misconduct, even “off-job” in the housing) and safe (in the times it was needed, taking care of a drunk person OR calling in someone sober to take care of someone was common), I was not about to stop someone from relaxing in their off-hours. I’d drink my beverage and then usually hang out in someone’s apartment away from the party. But certainly, the lack of separation between Job Time and Leisure Time made my job much harder. When you’re trying to chill at the end of the day and someone is making sure you know that “so-and-so slept with so-and-so” (or even worse, as happened to me once, you accidentally stumble upon some…outdoor coupling), it makes it hard to separate that from This Is My Responsibility.

    I tried and failed to change this culture of partying – it is deeply, deeply embedded. The little I was able to do was make sure that no one was being forced to drink, make known that someone being drunk at work would not be tolerated, and publicly identify “safe” people to go to if anyone was being harassed.

    This kind of housing is different from all of my other many experiences of theatre housing. I will say that though the downsides were many (never being able to leave work, having chill time interrupted by sudden interpersonal issues I needed to be a part of, noise after midnight, and more), the friendships I developed were really meaningful to me, and have been people I’ve kept in regular contact with even years later. I think that would have happened without all the drinking, though.

  122. BB*

    Ugh. My first faculty job (at a tiny, private, Baptist college) paid so little that I couldn’t afford both my student loans and an apartment. They offered a dorm room, and my young, naive self accepted it.

    Dorm life is not for adults, especially dorm life with heavily-filtered (and tracked!) internet, a roach-filled communal kitchen, and regular backups of raw sewage that flowed from the semi-private bathroom into my living space several times, including during winter break while I was away from campus. I left within 11 months after testifying against the president of the college in an ethics inquiry.

  123. DogMom*

    Oooh man do I have some stories after doing this for the last decade.

    Neighbor drama takes a whole new level when the drama is with manager.

    To be honest I don’t recommend it. It sucks, you’re never truly off from work.

  124. Starbuck*

    I’ve got a positive story! My second position after college was an internship that was paid a small stipend with on-site housing offered to make up the difference. Since there was no other way I’d be able to live in the area (expensive), I jumped on it because the internship was very appealing. I was also offered the role of “RA” which came with the perk of getting the only room in the house that had an en suite bathroom, so that was an easy yes for me. Definitely made the whole situation much more livable.

    We were all recent college grads in our mid 20s and luckily had a lot in common as far as what we considered fun and an acceptable amount of rowdiness (a lot, frankly). We had BBQs, made mattress forts in the living room, had trashy reality tv viewing parties, went into town together, or just got drunk and played games or did arts and crafts. The house was nice enough that it was pleasant to live in, but not too fancy that we had to worry about our shenanigans.

    Challenges? No dishwasher and limited counter space, so we had to be pretty on top of cleaning dishes. We did group meals often enough and built up enough camaraderie so that it never got too nasty. There was no wired internet options, so we had to pool our money for some kind of hot spot thing that obviously didn’t have enough bandwidth for a half dozen of us to all stream Netflix. It often would shut off before the end of the month. Luckily there was always enough going on that even though I spend a LOT of time online before and after that time, I didn’t miss it then. My main duty as the RA ended up being the person who coordinated the monthly house-cleaning, and I was the one who mopped the floors. Everyone else chipped in and helped move the furniture and put on music while doing other stuff so it still was pretty pleasant.

    It was quite a lot of fun, I still consider most of those interns friends, and would definitely do it again.

  125. a nony humanitarian*

    I am an aid worker living in a hardship duty station. Sadly, believe it or not, I somehow have not had any truely crazy guesthouse stories! Our first guesthouse was bad: I had a regular shower, but the pressure was so low that I had to take a bucket shower if I wanted to wash my hair. Our current guest house is much better (not luxury at all but the shower works and the generator usually works) and we have more privacy/individual living space. That said, there are some awkward things: e.g. I have to ask my boss if I want to have friends over during the day (no guests at all are allowed after curfew). And I’ve seen most of my colleagues shirtless (men) or in pjs etc. When I moved into a new room, I found a penis-shaped bottle opener (apparently a common souvenir from Bali?) and a lot ….like 3 garbage bags full….of empty beer bottles. And one time (back in that old guest house) someone cooked intestines or stomach in the shared kitchen and it stunk up the whole place, which is all the more horrifying considering that the hallways of the building were partially open to the outside so there is plenty of ventilation. More seriously though, the worst part is simply the feeling of being a perpetual child when you don’t live in your own place. Best part is saving money.

  126. NatureSu*

    I met my husband through staff housing. I’ve worked for several seasons at residential outdoor schools, always some kind of drama. I think your personal distance from the drama really influences your experience with company-provided housing.

    Internship in college: lived in a single-wide trailer with a big hibernaculum of garter snakes underneath. (Big ball of 50+ snakes….)

    1st Year of Residential Environmental Ed: met some of my best friends. Housing was a historic home in the Midwest, my room got down to 40°F at night with central heating. Beautiful porch. My soul was so happy.

    However, I have yet to rexperience that level of drama. A friend/housemate was reuniting with her separated (not divorced, but had to work out some issues) husband. Another housemate became her best friend, and ended up sleeping with the husband. Needless to say, my friend finalized her divorce. Housemate and (ex)husband are now married. There’s a lot of complications surrounding kids, custody, etc.

    2nd Year: adults should not be made to share a room with other adults. Housing was in an old motel, everyone besides a few people (senority, sexual orientation) had a roommate. My roommate dated someone in a single room for most of the year, I essentially got a single room.

    3rd Year: Best housing setup. 4-5 houses with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms each. Nobody had a roommate. Central air. Rent was $100/month, and this was within the last 10 years. We had bonfires every Friday night. Made some close friends, started dating man who I eventually married.

    4th Year: Meh? On the plus side, no drama. I much prefer house style housing to dorm style.

  127. Alex*

    I’m late to this party, but I have a good one!

    In my early twenties, I was travelling and got a job as a waitress/bartender in a british pub with board included. The pub mostly hired people in a similar boat, so there were about 7-8 of us in a big house, and it was great. However, there were some tensions amongst kitchen staff and bar staff.

    One of the key issues was that more people needed staff housing than there were rooms, so a pair of chef brothers from Romania who were the last hired were told they’d have to share a room. Specifically, the currently empty room, a tiny attic space that the last holder had smoked in constantly and left char marks on the walls and ceilings from his personal fryer. Indisputably, the worst room in the house.

    Now, they put up with this for a while, but one day, I went to the kitchen and they saw my room. It was probably the old lounge or dining room, so was massive, and I kept it clean and nice. Well, they decided that it was unfair that I had that while they were stuck in the attic and, without talking to me, went to the owner.

    He heard them out, and decided that we should be made to switch rooms. Came and told me.

    “But I don’t have the biggest room,” I started with.

    No, the bar manager has that, so she can’t be made to move.

    “I don’t want to switch.”

    But this is fairer on them. And you know how hard chefs are to find…

    “Okay, I understand.”

    Now, a relevant factor was that, at this point, it was the end of November. Ie right before our busy christmas period. And we were already understaffed, and I was one of their top front of house people, who (being overseas) had no christmas plans and therefore happily volunteered to be all over the holiday roster to let the others spend time with their families.

    “I’ll move out in two weeks,” I finished. And, in case he didn’t get the point, “I’ll get that to you in writing tomorrow.”

    All of a sudden he looked nervous, and I walked away (to have a quiet cry, because I was 21 and had basically never stood up to an authority figure before).

    Well, I handed in my resignation, and despite the bar manager coming to me and saying she thought she could let me keep my room if I just took it back, kept my word. I left two weeks later, and relish the thought of the owners having to work christmas parties themselves. Hope they enjoyed that!

  128. Roja*

    Love reading all these! I spent 5ish weeks working crew for an arts summer festival that I’d previously spent the last two years going to as a student, so I knew the area and festival quite well. We stayed in shared dorms, two rooms to a bathroom, dining hall, etc. It was overall a great experience and honestly very low drama, although certainly a lot of work and very long hours. I remember our boss telling us how hard he would work to make sure we had a morning off once a week, and that did usually happen, but man, by the end we were all exhausted.

    I was lucky; I had originally been assigned a room with people from other “tracks” in the festival, but had made friends with another techie. We got ourselves reassigned to a room together and were happy roommates for the rest of the summer. I do remember she was very concerned about not killing bugs though, so if we found a bug I’d always let her take care of it–win win, since I didn’t have to deal with it, and she didn’t have to get angry with me for killing it.

    I loved it at the time, but I don’t think I’d do it again. I like to share space in some ways (currently rent in a four-plex and am friends with all our housemates), but I also need to feel my space is my own and I can do what I need to do.

  129. kicking-k*

    The only time I’ve done this was in my first real job. I was an au pair girl and simply had a bedroom and bathroom in the family’s house.

    It was a nice room and there wasn’t anything truly weird, but I’d never lived anywhere but with my parents and had no clue about the norms. The dad had a study just through the wall and used to have a cigarette in there now and then, and I agonised over whether I was supposed to know this – I had been told nobody smoked in the house so neither should I (not a problem, as I didn’t).