Photoshopped by Kai Hellberg (COM '20)
Kate Anderson (COM '22)

Kate is a freshman from Virginia Beach, Virginia studying Film and TV.

So your roommate is always sleeping. Every time you come home, they’re passed out on their bed, looking still and peaceful. But are they too still, and too peaceful? Here are some handy ways to tell if your roommate is decompressing or decomposing.

1. Are they snoring?

This is an easy one. If your roommate is audibly talking, snoring, coughing, moving, or otherwise showing signs of life, they are most likely alive. Congrats! Rest easy, comforted by the relaxing sounds of their sleep apnea.

2. Are they breathing?

If you can’t immediately tell whether or not your roomie’s circulatory system is up to par, we have an easy solution. Take a mirror and hold it up to their face. If the mirror fogs up, the chances your roommate is alive are lookin’ pretty good! The next time you come home, feel free to snag them an extra coffee if you’re feeling generous.

3. Do they react to loud noises?

Oh shit! You slammed the door, dropped your backpack, and your 2003 Apple iBook flew out and shattered across the floor. Did you roommate shift in bed or “wake up” after your clumsy ass knocked over every random, noisy, heavy, and/or metal object in your room? Moving is a pretty obvious sign that your roomie is just catching some Zs. If they don’t move, don’t call it quits just yet! Some people are just heavy sleepers.

4. Have their parents been calling you recently?

Check your phone. Do you have five missed calls with a Minnesota area code? Is your roommate from Minnesota? If their parents have been hitting your line and leaving concerned voice mails about their child, things are looking bleak. This is especially telling if the calls have been coming in for days or even weeks, and if you haven’t seen your roommate move since the calls began. If these apply to you, it might be time to whip up a touching eulogy.

5. Poke ‘em. How would you describe their skin?

While this might be hard to explain if they wake up, the texture and temperature of the body can be a good sign of living or dead. If the skin is cold and hard, it may be too late – rigor mortis has set in, so it may be time to call your RA. If you can’t tell, I’d recommend sticking their hand in a warm bowl of water to check their bodily functions.

6. Have you noticed a funky smell coming from their side of the room?

If you notice their side smelling worse than usual, this could be a telltale sign of decomposition. General B.O. is normally fine, but if something smells rotten, things are looking bad. Check your fridge before making any judgement calls – maybe someone unplugged it and the roadkill you picked up to microwave later started reeking again.

7. Did you literally kill your roommate?

Okay, time to get honest with yourself. Did you stab them with a knife after they looked at your boyfriend slightly longer than you were comfortable with? Did you immediately regret it? Did you fake a 911 phone call? Did you remember that, if your roommate dies, you automatically pass all of your exams? Did that make you feel better or worse? If any or all of these questions seem applicable to your life, your roommate is probably dead, and it’s on you. We’ve all been there! We recommend coming up with an alibi ASAP. Getting arrested is a total bummer and a felony never looks good on a resume. Change your name, burn off your fingerprints, and try to get a single next year!

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