Last Saturday, I asked my new roommate, J, to help me paint her bedroom. Much to my surprise, she agreed to help me. To show my appreciation for her generosity, I offered to give her three days of free rent. I could have hired a painter to paint my second bedroom for $100 (not including paint and supplies), but I chose to ask J instead because:
- It would give me a chance to get to know her better (I estimated the paint job would take at least four hours).
- I would save $17.00.
Before she arrived, I spent an hour adding blue painter's tape around the perimeter of the baseboards and the ceiling. I also spread tarp over most of the floor. When J arrived at 8:30 AM, she helped me move the mattresses out into the hall way. Then we got to work. I used the roller paint brush and J used a smaller paint brush to paint the corners of the room and the areas right above the baseboards. Much to my surprise, I found the act of painting to be quite relaxing and almost meditative. J and I worked nonstop for two and a half hours. Then we took a one-hour lunch break and returned to the bedroom to add the second coat of paint. After another two hours of painting, we finished the paint job and it took us almost an hour to clean up.
During the paint job, I learned that J has a health condition that severely limits what she can eat. She is an omnivore, but she is not supposed to eat highly processed foods. When she first inquired about becoming my roommate, she asked me if it would be okay to cook in the kitchen every day and I told her that was fine. At first, I thought she enjoyed cooking, but the truth is, she has no choice. Most restaurants do not serve the kind of food she can eat so she cooks all of her meals. Fortunately, she can work from home five days a week so that definitely makes things a lot easier for her.
I also learned that J's husband lives in Brazil and is not allowed to leave the country until he receives his green card. J plans to visit him later this month right before she moves into my condo. J works as a computer software engineer for a company that is headquartered in Boston, MA. Because her work schedule revolves around the East coast time zone, she works from 7:00 AM to 6:30 PM Pacific time, Monday through Friday. When I found out about her work schedule, I said, "Wow, you work really long hours!" But she told me that during business hours, she is allowed to run quick errands to break up her long work day. If you could work from home five days a week from 7:00 AM to 6:30 PM with a one-hour break for lunch and a one-hour break for dinner, would you accept that kind of work schedule? I should add that J earns over $80,000 per year.
I really like J. She's only 30 years old, but seems to be extremely mature for her age. When I found out how much money she earns, I asked her, "Wouldn't you prefer to rent a one-bedroom apartment on your own without a roommate?" But she told me that she and her husband are trying to save money so that when he receives his green card next year, they can buy a house in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has never lived in the East Bay (she used to live in Silicon Valley), but chose my condo because she wanted to experience what it's like to live in the East Bay. Also, housing tends to be less expensive in the East Bay compared to San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Marin County.
The next day, when I removed all the blue painter's tape, I was dismayed when I realized that some of the white paint had dripped onto the brown baseboards. If I had hired a professional painter, that probably wouldn't have happened. So I decided to paint the baseboards the same color as the walls and they look fine now. Looking back, I'm glad I asked J to help me paint her bedroom. I got to know a really nice young woman and I saved a little bit of money.