November 11, 2022

BERNSTEIN | We Need to Clean up Our Home

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One of my roommates came home to my Collegetown house with a new set of mason jars the other day. I couldn’t believe it. “Bro, you just bought like 30 mason jars last semester.”

“​​They couldn’t all make it. This was the only way,” he said in response. I sat back in awe. I didn’t realize how grave the mason jar situation truly was.

The last platoon of his mason jars had been shattered or scattered across the house. Some of them had watched their friends die in horrific accidents. Some still sit in the cave underneath the sofa, praying to be found again one day. They count the days in tally marks on the dusty wood floor. Others spend their nights hiding in plain sight, their bodies full of week-old overnight oats or leftover liquor and fruit flies. “What are we to you?” they ask to no one. “Was it all for nothing?” The general can’t hear them. He just sent the next platoon of 30 mason jars to their impending doom.

This column has a niche audience. This goes out to my six roommates in my fraternity annex. Nevertheless, I think it may be appreciated by a broader section of Cornell’s community.

To the dudes who let the trash stack up just a little too high before taking it out, who let their empty halal truck takeout box sit open on the kitchen table overnight or who have one too many open beers sitting watching TV in the living room — How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is playing. To the ones in the mind of significant others reading this, and more importantly, the ones in the mind of the almost significant others who are still on the fence. Lastly, of course, to my six roommates. This one’s for the mason jars we’ve lost, but will never forget.

Let’s hire a cleaner, guys.

I’m serious! I know it can be expensive, but when we split it seven ways it’s really not that bad. Plus, half of you are in Dyson and you already got your fancy internship-signing bonus so it’s not like you can’t afford it. And we don’t have to make it a regular thing. Just like once or twice. It’ll make a huge difference and let’s be real: no one here wants to mop the floors by themselves. Besides, maybe after we hire a cleaner we won’t have to pay for a new set of mason jars. You’ll make your money back in no time.

I know what you’re gonna say: it’ll just get dirty again anyway. But it’s a vicious cycle, you know? You’re only wearing your shoes in the house 24/7 because the floors are dirty. If they stay clean for a while, we can even look into getting a rug! It’ll really make the space feel warm for the winter. And if we have people come over on the weekend, we can time it so the cleaner comes on the Monday after. Then we’re in the clear. Look, all I’m saying is maybe there’s a better life out there. Maybe there’s a world where we don’t have to wear shoes in the shower in our own home. I’m not a stickler — I’m really not.

If you really don’t want to, there’s a pretty simple alternative: we can always just clean up ourselves. That method has gone pretty well so far, and I’m not even kidding. We have no major stains on furniture, we’ve got a moderately well-set-up living room and an organized spice cabinet, refrigerator and cupboard. We clean the dishes regularly (that’s a big upgrade from last year!), but we could probably do a better job of putting them away after they dry. We’re also not great about throwing away and taking out the trash, and the floors and bathrooms could use some work. If you think about it, though, we’re good enough about picking up after ourselves that a cleaner would just have a two-hour job tidying up common spaces, which we wouldn’t do ourselves because we’re too busy with school and life.

Then again, who am I to complain? I know I’m not perfect either.

In fact, maybe I can give ground to the idea that you’re only in college once. Maybe, in a way, it’s fun to not care what your house looks like when your girlfriend or parents walk in. Maybe it’s part of growing up to live on your own for the first time and trash the house because it doesn’t belong to you anyway — it belongs to some Collegetown landlord who doesn’t really care about you. Who’s really gonna look back on their time in college and give a damn about how clean it was anyway?

I’ll admit that there are far more important things for me to care about than keeping our house spotless and shiny. I’ve still got papers to write and a job to find, not to mention making the most of my senior year while I’m here with you, my roommates and friends. The mason jars might fight their fruitless war from underneath the couch until the end of time, and the next wide-eyed mason jar enlistees will probably join them. It doesn’t really matter too much.

So, here’s what I say. Let’s get a cleaner to come by, just once or twice, to get rid of the dirt we track in from when we’re out having fun. We can and should do most of the work ourselves, but we ought to do whatever it takes to make the common room inviting, open and accessible — so we can spend our time living together actually being together. I don’t really care if we leave some trash out on the coffee table from time to time. I care that our house feels like a home.

Daniel Bernstein is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]. Feel the Bern runs alternate Thursdays this semester.