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July 25, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Vice-President (Welfare)

My flatmates are filthy animals. I, by contrast, am a domestic deity, replete with immortal beauty and a sweet cape of cleanliness. This is the paradox of our time (my flat): each of us adopts the self-serving position that the decrepitude of the flat is not our fault.

I’ll never take responsibility for cleaning the toilet, even though it was I who regurgitated half a box of Kristov Tropical all over the floor. I’ll never take responsibility for cleaning the oven, even though it was I who regurgitated half a box of Kristov Feijoa deep inside its oven-hole. Most egregiously, I’ll never take responsibility for burying the cat, even though it was I who forgot to feed it.*

Maybe my lack of effort around the flat is because I’m a child-like asshole, but I prefer to disguise my personal failings with opaque jargon. I’m not lazy: the flat suffers from a Tragedy of the Commons (like when everyone hunts too many whales and then all the whales are gone). We have no roster: rather just a loose agreement that on some unspecified times, some unspecified flatmate will clean some unspecified object. This has not worked.

Asher’s First Wise Thought:

A flat should have a clear understanding of individuals’ responsibilities to the group, both in terms of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and to what standard it should be done. It sounds simple, but I think I’m very clever and this never occurred to me. If you don’t have such an understanding, everyone operates under selfish incentives, leading them to pillage the ocean of all its whales/never remove their miscellaneous bodily fluids from the curtains. Everyone needs robust accountability mechanisms.

Asher’s Second Wise Thought:

Use available resources. My grandmother has regularly informed me that products readily available around the home can be as effective as expensive cleaning products. Some of these may come as a surprise to you:

Vinegar mixed with water in a 1:1 ratio can be used in the kitchen and bathroom to remove soap scum and general filth. It is a natural disinfectant and removes dastardly odours.

Lemon can be used to shine copper and brass fittings, such as those on doors. Make sure your all your knobs are shiny for that flat inspection.

Baking soda can be left in its box inside the fridge or freezer to deal to the elusive fridge-smell. It can also be used as a substitute for abrasive cleaners such as Jif.

Water is free and it comes from the tap. You just have to scrub hard enough.

Asher’s Obligatory VUWSA-related (but still wise) Comment:

If you end up in a dispute with your crazy landlord or your incorrigible flatmates, VUWSA has a Student Advocate available to assist you in resolving the issue. She has extensive experience in assisting students with a range of difficult issues. You can get in contact with her at:
I wish you all the best in your hygiene-related endeavours,
Asher Emanuel
*Author’s note: This has never actually happened, I’m just prone to fictionalisation. I love cats, and if I owned one, I would never neglect it. As for my proclivity for vomiting, I will allow the reader to form their own conclusion.


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