The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

He's throwing away my bread!

Felila's picture
Felila

He's throwing away my bread!

After an anxious month during which I failed to rent out my spare bedroom, I rented it to a young Saudi male, a graduate student at a local university. I had initially turned him down, but a friend convinced me to give it a try.

She was wrong, I was right; I gave him notice three days later. He was treating me like one of the maids in his family's Riyadh house.

He's leaving in a couple of weeks (I gave him a month's notice). In the meantime, he's eating most of his meals out ... he didn't want to pay me to cook for him. However, he is happily eating my homemade bread. What HURTS is that he'll cut several huge chunks out of the loaf, carry them off to his room to eat -- and then throw half the bread away, uneaten.

I've asked him not to do this; he persists. He's just too used to lavish meals prepared by hired cooks.

Perhaps you-all can share my horror at working hard to make good bread and then seeing it in the garbage.  Have any of you had experiences like this?

 



HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

When I rented my spare rooms to graduate students, I told them I needed to make a phone reference to their mothers.  Those who didn't want their mothers to talk to me I didn't rent to.  I had some weird ones but never a real problem.  LOL

yy's picture
yy

unbelievable. I guess there are all kinds of people out there. I have not had a similar experience, but this guy's behavior sounds horrifying and you are absolutely justified in being disgusted and kicking him out. 

Celia57's picture
Celia57

You gave him a MONTH's notice?  Good grief!  Is that a legal requirement where  you live?  I would think a generous amount of time would be 24-48 HRS.

G-man's picture
G-man

24-48 hours is about enough time to find a good place to park a cardboard box in an alley. I don't know how the rental situation is where you live, but you're lucky to arrange a walkthrough in that time, much less sign a lease and move in. The fastest I've ever been able to move is 3 days, and I didn't have to sign a lease on the place I was moving to. 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

In the late 70's a student walked through our house and proposed buying the "neat looking" TV with the flat black non-shiny screen with no edges. What he had come upon was actually our microwave oven. Thankfully he wasn't staying overnight.

Then in the 80's one August the town was overrun with expensive cars going vroom-vroom and cruising the streets way too fast. It turned out the local university had hosted a summer school program for really rich kids, the kids had gotten annoyed at the campus rules, and while obeying the rule about not bringing a car with them had gone out and bought fancy new cars. All we could do was hold our breath until that summer was over. The local university learned their lesson and never did that again.

In response to your predicament, I fear that at this point you have approximately zero leverage over his behavior. You've already given him notice, he's already hoping (probably unreasonably:-) for a better situation elsewhere, there's no real cost to him for ignoring you (let alone failing to understand you). In the meantime his behavior can be highly distressing  ...but there's very little you can do to change it. I fear what you'll have to do instead is just find ways to keep your own blood pressure from skyrocketing, such as giving him opaque trash bags so you don't ever have to actually see the discards.

Felila's picture
Felila

Month's notice wouldn't be a legal requirement ... sheesh, it took me a week to get any money out of him, and he has refused to sign any rental agreement. (I should have refused to let him in the door without money and agreement, but it was the end of Ramadan and he was so puppy-dog excited about Eid al-Fitr. Then he started being too busy to discuss things.)

I've got some pity for the guy because I know what it's like to find oneself in a new culture, breaking unwritten rules right and left because one doesn't know any different. Of course he treated me like a maid ... his parents' house, or hotels, were all he knew.  Doesn't mean I have to put up with it.

swtgran's picture
swtgran

Hide your bread.

G-man's picture
G-man

I second this. Put it where he can't get to it. 

Felila's picture
Felila

I had originally told him that he could share my bread, so it's going to be taken as a hostile act if I revoke the right. Perhaps I could tell him that I *will* start putting the bread on my private shelf if I see slices in the garbage again.

Since I haven't heard any stories about "my ex used to do that", I gather  that all of you bakers have had better luck in getting others to respect your bread :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Tell him you are upset with his bad manners that maybe his behavior is acceptable in his country but as your boarder, he is offending you and casting a bad light on his upbringing and family.  Maybe he knows this, maybe not.  But if you can explain to him what his manners should be in this situation, you might get more cooperation instead of more aggrivation.  After explaining what is on your mind, give him the chance to explain what might be on his mind and why the aggresive behavior.   If the problems persist, tell him you plan to talk to the counceling dept of the nearby univ. to see what might be done.  You might want to contact them sooner for help with this problem.  

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

From my experience as a faculty member in various institutions, it's unlikely any university offices will help with an off-campus housing dispute unless they were involved with the initial placement.  The off-campus housing office may be able to help you with a suggested script for a future landlord-tenant agreement but I wouldn't count on it. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but more along the lines of information...  is he registered as a student and why is he not in a student hall like many foreign students?  

Felila's picture
Felila

He sees himself as a hard-nosed, hard-bargaining businessperson who cannot be cheated. He turned down the university offer of a room in the dorms. He would not be locked down to a semester contract! They arranged for a room in a family's home, as part of their off-campus housing program. After just a week there, he started looking for a new place. The house was dirty! The family had a dog! Dogs are disgusting! He can't get into a dorm now, and off-campus housing says that they cannot help him. If he requires a place with neither dogs nor cats, that radically narrows his options.

He's looking for rooms on Craigslist, and failing to find anything. He doesn't know local neighborhoods, doesn't know how to screen places beforehand.

Hard-hitting businessperson is helpless as a baby in a strange place and culture.

But tonight I did BEG him not to waste my bread (it costs money! it takes time and energy to make!). So far no more bread in the garbage. 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

My two cents: from your description it sounds like he's got a big problem: he sees himself as impervious to being cheated, but he's clueless about both other cultures and what he really feels inside himself (i.e. "dogs are disgusting"). I applaud your understanding of his situation (that this is much more about a rich foreigner than about "boys will be boys") and your attempt to be helpful. But it sounds like it's become quite clear that --despite the best of intentions-- you cannot help him (in fact it seems that currently nobody can help him, because he refuses to see he's got a problem). About all you can do while you're trying to get free of the tar baby is try to keep separate in your mind what helps him from what helps you.

My experience with rich Saudi kids is it's almost impossible to predict what will happen or to protect yourself legally. To separate out which kids would be good renters from which won't, it would be necessary to understand their culture as well as you wish they would understand yours. That's not likely. Some people protect themselves by simply refusing to have any dealings at all with any foreigner, but I find that an overly blunt and unfair strategy. I wish we all tried as hard to be helpful as you have  ...but I think it's inevitable that things will go dramatically wrong fairly often in these situations, and that's just the price of being a nice person with a global perspective.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Ok, you got someone who wants to be in control of his situation and unwilling to be thankful.   Got to give him credit for being stubborn.  What kind of bread does he eat in his own country?  I'm betting on pita type bread.  Ask him.  Would you be willing to show him how it is made so he can make his own?   Try making some and see if he shows interest.  If not, nothing lost.  But if he manages to feed himself, with something familiar to him, it might be a big step for him to help him adjust to his situation and give him some kind of control in what might appear to be an out of control situation.   Just a thought.  Bread has an interesting way of bringing people together and crossing cultural differences.   

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

While I appreciate the responses that suggest you find a common ground (I really do like that approach), realize that sometimes things like that just don't work. Seriously (I'm not kidding here), put out some ads to dog sit. I'd get a bunch, especially some nice big ones (good for your protection anyway, lol).

If he's looking for rooms on Craigslist but still hasn't found any since he's being so picky, then you might never get him out.

It's your house, you have that right: get.more.dogs. :D

Lynne

p.s. Also - stop letting him throw away your bread! I really, really feel for you. :( I would stop baking for the time being.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

talk to him, point out why he is offending you and then quit baking until he leaves.

Anna

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I suggest you Google Nolo Books, Real Estate and Rental Property before you rent to anyone. Then check local regulations regarding rentals and rental agreements.

Simply put, you need to educate yourself in the art of renting, rental law and being careful to carry out background checks on prospective renters...,

Wild-Yeast 

Felila's picture
Felila

Rental laws apply when you're renting out an entire unit. I'm renting one room, and sharing the bathroom and kitchen. He's a roommate! 

As for background checks ... just how am I to conduct a background check on someone from a foreign country? One whose language I do not speak? On someone who has never lived outside his parents' large home?

I let him have the room on the advice of a friend of mine, a licensed clinical psychologist, who interviewed him on the phone and told me that she thought he was a sweet, lost young man.  I also insisted on confirmation of his income, a scholarship from the Saudi government.

Wild-Yeast, I know you mean to be helpful, but saying, "You're in this fix  because you failed to do these simple, obvious things" feels to me more like an attack than useful advice.

yy's picture
yy

This situation is not the result of shortsightedness or lack of diligence. Sounds like despite your best effort and judgement, this is how things turned out. To put it facetiously, s*** happens :-(. Have you called on advice from your clinical psychologist friend? I feel frustrated on your behalf. I wonder if any TFLers out there know of anything at all on the books that could help you get rid of this guy. You shouldn't have to deal with this. 

gizzy's picture
gizzy

I currently have 3 roommates. And yes, in your situation the man is subletting from you (you should look up information on subletting, there are even contracts regarding it--one of my current roommates is a sublet of the woman who lived there previously. Its a great way to get around the hassle of breaking a leasing contract).

In terms of how you went about determining who to rent, talking to your psychologist friend and confirming income were great steps. I would seriously suggest considering some type of subleasing agreement. I'm not sure you can do a background check, while ideal, I'm not sure it's possible.

Whenever you get a new roommate, you must always establish the rule of order. This means cleaning schedules, and if needed shower/laundry schedules, you need to make it clear what is off limits and what is available--though it sounds like you did this. I saw in another post that you begged him to not throw it away, if that doesn't work, stop giving him bread and if he complains, be firm and tell him why you stopped giving him bread. If this means you have to store your bread in your room, do it. Just because you established something at the beginning does not mean it has to stay that way. If you are worried about offending him, too bad, this is the states and he is offending you. It's your home, you make the rules. He can either deal with it, or it will cause him to move out much quicker.

I would consider making everything of yours off limits until you get to know the person better. I had this problem with the person who left not long ago. It caused me to keep everything I owned (plates, glasses, etc) in my bedroom because she was incosiderate with other peoples things. Hopefully you dont have to do this, but you ahve the upper hand by subleasing the room, rather than having him be on the lease.

Good luck!

Felila's picture
Felila

I own the condo. Mortgage paid off. So there's no worry about a sub-let.

As for setting rules ... I only expect roommates to clean up after themselves in the kitchen and bathroom.  Wash dishes, wipe off the stove, brush the bread crumbs off the cutting board into the sink, etc. I do all the other cleaning, because I hate nagging roommates to do their chores. I had enough of that in college and grad school. I would rather clean than nag. All this was made clear.

Saudi guy tries, sorta, but he leaves a trail of mess behind him. He's never had to clean up after himself. There has always been a Filipina maid to take care of that.

gizzy's picture
gizzy

Thats great that you own it, even better which means you can have them sign a leasing agreement. This ofcourse means that if they are evicted (by you of course) it damages their reputation, and as a landloard, you might be able to have a back ground check done--try asking around or doing some research on it. Unless you wanted to keep it off the record, which more power to you.

In this case, I would say dont treat it like a roommate situation and treat it like a landlord-tennat situation. In terms of housekeeping, what we do in my apt is alternate weeks, while mantaining things throughout the week. Then the roommates choose if they want to hire a housekeeper, 2 of my roommates do, I don't. If this is unappealing or in your case, it seems as though it wont work, pay a house keeper to come in every other week and charge him extra rent for it.

Honestly though, it sounds like the saudi guy needs a nice kick in the rear to realize that the way he is acting wont cut it in the states. Maybe in NYC it will (I do know many like him, at least from the description you gave), but not in many of the apts I know. Those people are ususally the ones subletting out their rooms because they can't get people to live with them for extended periods of time. And those that do end up resenting them and wishing to end all friendship with the person.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Roommates are tricky even from the same culture; doubly tricky with cross-cultural issues too. I remember doing things like leaving a dish of M&Ms beside the turntable and telling my roommates to take one every time they close the dust cover, or when nobody else was home collecting and hiding all the metal cooking utensils that kept finding their way into non-stick pots.

It takes months or years to learn to pick up after oneself. Despite the best of intentions, anyone (like your Saudi:-) who's never had to do it before isn't going to learn it before you tear your hair out...

Next time, specifying what age roommate you're looking for can go a long way toward pre-selecting those who might fit. Even if it's not legal when renting an entire unit, I expect it is for renting a room. But I'm not a lawyer; if your checking determines there are laws that prevent your specifying the age of a roommate wanted, instead just put your own age in the ad - prospects will get the message.

I'd be especially leery about grad-student-age: those prospects apparently can't find anyone else to share a whole unit with them - why not???

mredwood's picture
mredwood

Either quit baking for the time, or bake and store your bread in your locked private space like your bedroom. Buy him a loaf of bread from the store and if you see some thrown away don't buy any more till a time has passed as 4 slices of bread 4 days it should last or some such time equals slices. If he asks about it, tell him why once and walk away. If he persists pretend you don't hear him as he doesn't hear you. 

Get him out now! Don't trust your life around him. 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Oh, that ungrateful, inconsiderate Person! Throwing bread!! Bread is a blessing from God.

varda's picture
varda

Hear, Hear!

PClark's picture
PClark

I don't have any experience with your situation, but when I bake bread it sits in the kitchen until I eat it or throw it away. My husband is a spoiled southern man who was raised on "light" bread (basically Wonder bread) and homebaked biscuits and cornbread. After 40 years together he still shuns my home baked  bread. I don't do biscuits, don't like them as well as he does, but I do very good cornbread that he eats and loves. It hurts my feelings when my bread just isn't good enought for him to even want to try, but I know the bread tastes good. It's the texture. He will even tear the bottom crust off his slices of store bought bread if it's too dry. I have in years pasdt seen him storm out of the house to go buy fresh bread. We have discussed and eliminated those tantrums over the 40 years. :)  I do get him to eat it fresh out of the oven with lots of butter or grilled rye sandwiches. And he eats the plain french bread buttered and warmed.  I sneak it in on him but offering to make lunch. So I guess I understand your feelings. It's difficult to understand waste when you have worked to make the bread well and share it with him. I have given up trying to wean the hubby off his store bought. I have gotten him to eat the ones with white whole wheat in them and shockingly he came home with 100%whole wheat the other day. And he loves the Oatmeal, cinammon raisin bread and sourdough english muffins on this site so I make those often and keep in the freezer.  I am looking at all the recipes for the soft white bread but just don't feel like getting into that and then being disappointed again when he doesn't like it. Let him buy his own! It's more fresh baked for me.

Felila's picture
Felila

I've read stories like yours on the forums on Chow. Some people grow up eating a diet that the rest of us would regard as limited, composed of low-quality, heavily-processed foods, and they are unwilling to expand beyond that narrow horizon. Put gourmet food in front of them and they'll reject it for boxed mac and cheese.

I can sympathize to some extent, because I'm picky in the same way about eating meat. No marrow, innards, eyes, feet and ears, whatever, for me.

Us picky eaters need to learn diplomacy :) Avoiding situations where one might give offense. Learning how to turn food down without dissing the food. Being humble about one's limitations.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

Us picky eaters need to learn diplomacy :) Avoiding situations where one might give offense. Learning how to turn food down without dissing the food. Being humble about one's limitations.

This is not about bread, but the above reminded me of what my mother's first "married" dinner was like.  She so wanted to please my father with her cooking skills, so, being German, Sauerkraut was on the menu. She wanted to make sure it would be just perfect and added vinegar to make it even more sour !!!   My father was telling me that with each bite he would get tears in his eyes from the sour taste but bravely cleaned his plate and gave great praise !   Now that is love :)

Anna

 

 


foodslut's picture
foodslut

My sweetie likes soft home-baked, while I like some crust, so it's a bit of give & take.  It's a matter of personal taste, nothing more, nothing less - just like I don't like cilantro.  Besides, like you said, more home-made for the rest of the world that appreciates it.

Felila:

Us picky eaters need to learn diplomacy :) Avoiding situations where one might give offense. Learning how to turn food down without dissing the food cook. Being humble about one's limitations.

Fixed that for you :)

G-man's picture
G-man

I dealt with this problem when I started cooking for my wife. She wouldn't eat most of what I cooked, actually. It got bad enough at one point that I refused to cook anymore because the menu that she restricted me to was so narrow...it strained our relationship near to breaking, because cooking and food is such an important thing in my family.

Well, when I refused to cook anymore she had to start since we had to eat. After a few weeks spent eating mac and cheese, eggs, etc, she got really bored of making the same stuff. She started asking her family (some of whom are excellent cooks) for recipes. She started explaining to me exactly why (as best she could) she liked or disliked certain things and started asking (and accepting!) for recommendations of new things to try. Whenever she would cook something, she would give it a very honest assessment. If she felt she might've cooked it wrong, she gave it another try. She even likes sourdough, which she swore she hated before I made it.

 

Her asking for recipes started a tradition, actually, because everyone in her family who had the talent contributed a few recipes and asked for a copy when it was done. Now everyone in her family has a copy of the family cookbook.

PClark's picture
PClark

I suppose I should be happy with the progress we have made in 40 years. I grew up in a meat and potatoes household, but it was very good and lots of it. My Dad loved to cook and did a lot of it.We enjoyed our mealtimes.  My husband grew up poor in the south in a very dysfunctional household. Meals were a time to get some nutrition in as fast as you could. So it was a shock to me that he didn't really enjoy food. I have changed that at least. I love to cook and try new things and he didn't always like it, but he tried it. His current favorite is falafela and hummus.  So I cut him slack with the bread I suppose. And eat it all myself.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

It was not meant as an attack. It's of no use taking out your frustrations and branding others who are simply trying to offer advice. This is a personal issue between you and an individual who has offended you. I am sorry and apologize if my advice offended you in any way.

I'll try to keep it on a striclty breadmaking theme and withhold any advice to those with completely off topic issues from now on.

Wild-Yeast

yy's picture
yy

Hi Felila

How is your situation coming along? I hope things have gotten better. 

Felila's picture
Felila

YY, thanks for asking.

I didn't think Saudi guy would EVER find a place, but he did, at the last minute. He's renting a room from an older Egyptian man who teaches at a local school. This will probably work out much better for Saudi guy. There's no language problem, no big cultural gap, and the landlord, being older, male, and Arab, will probably not be seen as a servant (almost certainly won't let himself be treated as one, either). 

We had some last minute drama, when Saudi guy didn't want to clean his room, or pay me for cleaning it. but he's out.

I had already arranged for a new roommate, who has turned out to be a sweetheart. He's smart, considerate, likes my cats, takes out the garbage without being asked. He's strange about food in a different way -- he never really learned to cook and lived in some marginal situations as he worked his way through grad school. He just buys prepared foods, or eats out. Hasn't even eaten my bread yet :) But hey, he washes his plate, cleans up after himself in the bathroom ... how can I complain?

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

eom   :)

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

Oh, I'm so happy to hear this, too! Sounds like an idea roomie to me!!

Off topic -I actually 'room' with one of my adult sons (have 4 kids all grown). Fortunately, he loves everything I make, including all my breads (even the ones that turn out, ah - questionable). Since money is tight right now, this is fortunate - I'll use meat only about once a week, and the rest will be creative combos that use beans, rice, soups, etc. Made some calzone type of pockets for awhile that had whatever I could find in the fridge in them so he could take them to work for lunches - he thought they were fantastic.

Gotta love it when those around ya like whatcha bake!!

Lynne

yy's picture
yy

So happy to hear this! Who knows, maybe this new roommate will learn some bread baking skills from you :-)