OK, so maybe she wasn't really a narcissist. But my new roommate, who I'd known since my freshman year, was nothing like a nice, understanding, or even freaking normal person. For the sake of privacy I'm just going to call her 'S', although anyone who knew me in college will probably ascertain who I'm talking about.
My senior year I moved into the off-campus apartments that Capital offered to their upperclass students. They were nice, two-story townhouses, with a basement, closet-sized kitchen, great room, one bath and two bedrooms. I shared the larger of the two rooms with 'S', while our other roomies had the second.
I knew that S was something of a control freak, but I had no idea how badly until I moved in with her. The littlest things set her off--dishes left in the sink for an hour after dinner, a brush left on the coffee table, a toothbrush on the sink ledge instead of put away. Yeah, these things can be annoying but that's what happens when you live with three other girls.
She also had an enormous talent for sleeping. I was taking 18 credit hours, including my Senior Seminar for English where I had to write my thesis, and she had T and Ths off with a very light MWF schedule. I was also very involved in campus life, so I was busy as all hell and didn't often get home until 10 or 11 (very, very normal for a college student). She would be in bed by 9 or 10 and wouldn't get up again until 9:30 or later the next morning. I mean, she slept like a cat- a very light sleeping cat. Myself, I can sleep through WW III. The days she had class, I knew she was up, but I kept sleeping. I don't let it bug me.
You may be wondering why all of this is necessary. In the words of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, "I have a point. I promise." Part of moving in to the apt. meant taking the portable aerosol machine and the Vest with me. They're sort of part and parcel with living with me. S knew that, even though she may not have been aware of what, precisely, it all entailed, no matter how much I tried to prep my new roommates for my stuff. I never just dumped it on anyone. On the days when I had a 9:30 class, I did the Vest quickly and as quietly as possible, definitely eschewing the 30 minutes I was supposed to do it for and did it to be as quick as possible. Was that the best thing for me? No. But you know...
So I didn't think there were any problems (well, at least related to that. There were issues but I digress). Not until one night when I came home about 9:00 and had the stuffing ripped out of me.
First off, S was a very, um 'visible' woman. You could always tell when something was bugging her. But the problem was she would never talk about it and get it out there. I'm Italian--we're big believers in just getting it out there. But S wasn't one of those people. She just lets it boil and boil and boil until woohoo!
I gotta tell you, I have never seen anyone this mad. She was actually vibrating, trembling, shaking, whatever--she was that angry. I think maybe I'd get that angry if someone killed my brother, or my parents or something. Not because I interrupted her at a meeting and my machines were loud in the morning!
This went on for a few minutes until I finally found my voice and said, "well, I have to do them in the morning before class. I do it as quickly, as quietly, and as late as possible so I don't bother you. But it has to be done." She didn't have anything to say to this but just stormed upstairs.
Now I was pretty freaked by this point. I have never, ever in my life had someone yell at me like that . This was pretty much unadulterated fury for something I could not control. I'm sorry I have to do PT to keep me alive. I'm sorry if that interferes with your precious 12 freakin' hours of sleep. But you know, if it's a choice between staying alive and making you, self-declared Queen of the World, happy, then I pick staying alive.
In tears, and shaking myself, I ran over to Branden's. Poor guy-- he'd never seen me like this and didn't know quite what to do with me. I sat on the couch, sobbing, and his other roommates- Rob, Chris, Steve, and Andy from next door - appeared eventually. When they heard what had happened, all of them in a lovely show of loyalty volunteered to go over and show her what for, but I managed to restrain them (something I do regret). I called my dad, who also wanted to kick her butt, but that didn't work either. If S only knew how much wrath she could've incurred....(and still could. In talking about the college years just this week when this story came up, Rob was still disturbed by it. I love my guy friends :)).
I went back to the apt. a few hours later. KJ, another roommate, was still up, as was Nicky and her fiance. Their advice? Just lay low, apologize and don't say anything.
Now I was a bit peeved at that. I was certainly not in the wrong. She was acting like a child, a selfish, spoiled child, and I wasn't supposed to do anything? Um, hell no. That's not cool. "Aren't we just aiding and encouraging this behavior by staying quiet?"
They nodded. "Yeah. But what can we do?"
"Um, not do it?" I suggested. They looked at me like I was nuts.
Nicky was spending the night with Jeff, so I stayed in KJ's room that night, not wanting to disturb the Princess again. KJ's advice was to move the machines to the family room, which was OK if the sound didn't echo (which it did, and our room was right about the family room, anyway) and she still find things to be pissed about. And it was my room, too, damn it. She didn't seem to care about my sleep when she and the others were up until 2 on Sat. night, blaring music and getting wasted while I was trying to sleep in order to get up for 10:30 Mass the next day. So, hmmm.
Fortunately, I moved out over mid-term break and didn't have to deal with Medusa anymore. But it just amazed me how inconsiderate and downright rude some people could be. Here I am, about to visit Cleveland for be evaluated for a double-lung transplant, and her compassion/understanding/simple level of accommodation stops squarely at her own level of personal comfort. Heaven forbid she think of someone else!!
Wow, this was a bit of a rant. But you know, it needed to happen. I had never been so blown out of the water by simple rudeness in my entire life. But she wasn't the only one. KJ did it, too, when I mentioned over the summer that I was going to have to have a port placed at some point because my veins were just shot--after 11 years of IV treatments, etc., there weren't a whole lot of other options except to have a semi-permanent, under-the-skin port placed in my upper chest, under my collarbone (aka, the clavicle). I told her this in case I ever had to do IVs at the apartment and I didn't want to freak anyone out. Her reaction? A wrinkled-up face and an "ew!" Again, not the most compassionate response.
Fortunately, these comments didn't happen all that often. Most of my friends were great about it, and actually showed concern or interest or whatever at the whole tx idea. Steve was always good for a lot of questions. :) I was fortunate to have a lot of good friends throughout this whole process, but the people that were rude/ dumb/insensitive, whatever, really got my goat.