The Help Line

Q. I’m a freshman, and I live in a quad. One of my roommates keeps eating my food and using my laundry detergent, but I’m not sure which one. In any case, when I come back to my room a couple of apples or yogurts will be gone, or a just-opened bag of cookies will have a suspiciously lower number. I don’t mind if a roommate asks to eat or use some of my stuff, but it’s really starting to piss me off to have stuff missing. What should I do?

A. The National Audubon Society recommends a pretty ingenious way to find out what unwanted creature has made its way into your kitchen: sprinkle the floor with a light coating of flour and see what tracks are left. Although this generally works to see if your problem is mice, rats or a squirrel, it could work in your case as well, assuming your roommates have different-sized feet. Or, next time you pick up your bag of cookies and see that half are gone, just say, very loudly when all three roommates are in the room, “Does anyone know what happened to my cookies? I swear I just opened this package the other day!” I’m sure all you will get are blank stares and shaking heads, but perhaps the food thief dumbly assumed that you just didn’t notice, and so by announcing that you have indeed noticed, she will stop for fear of getting caught. In the meantime, label all yogurts in the fridge as yours, and, if worse comes to worse, hide the good stuff (i.e., keep your beloved cereal in a desk drawer).

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