me, myself & andrei

25 Sep 2009
Shared Kitchen - Corridor Rules

Starting this spring, I’ve moved to a shared kitchen SSSB corridor.

Quite many pluses, but one big minus that sometimes tends to be highlighted and highlighted, over and over again: kitchen cleanliness.

Reasons for complaining, one can find whenever.  I am one of them. I’m not hiding it. But what could differentiate me from others is that I try to see a way to fight it, and not a way to run from the complaints. Whether I managed to win over it or not, others need to judge.

That being said, usually there are two options that people see: run, Forrest, run! People are afraid of talking, of confrontations, some lack the communication skills to diffuse a situation, some lack the skills to see the middle way, etc. And then you have those that do not care at all.. or the ones (Swedes) that care, but they are shit-scared of confrontations - most probably since they are used to situations when the “guilty” person notices the mistake and says “Sorry! I’ll fix it!” first..

Personally, I have a tendency to be harsh - my way or the high way. Most of the times I’m keeping focused on the situation, and not on the people. So if I say “Please clean!”, once you do clean your mess, the ground for a possible good relationship arises instantaneously. But it’s hard to see that, I know.

Enough said! My advice consist of the following:

  • Take the lead! If you don’t do anything about your unhappy corridor, then do not expect somebody else to do it for you.
  • Have a meeting at the beginning of each semester with the whole corridor people - put up a note with possible dates and times, and let people decide during a week when to do it, and then put another note saying exactly when you’ll have the meeting
    • Start by introducing yourself to everyone else, and then let everyone else do the same. It’s good to know people’s background since that might lead to knowing their expectations, and also you will know what their interests are so that next time you know how to connect to them.
    • Set a common corridor fee for common expenditures. We have 50 SEK per semester from each person in order to buy cleaning tools, lightbulbs, etc.
    • Ask for a special fee, if there’s a common need for a one-time purchase like a microwave oven.
    • Talk! Not everybody is evil as you think. People do mistakes, have different routines and standards and might not see their mistakes, but they might be willing to do something about them. *Note to self, as well*
  • SSSB usually separates duties between corridor and kitchen. I decided to go by logic: somebody cleans the kitchen, and somebody else cleans the corridor and the kitchen floor. This has to happen at the end of the week, but it’s good to have  a time range. Not everyone is  has the time or will to do is specifically on Sunday evening, and it’s not a job. It’s a duty in order to comply with SSSB rules and with common-sense sharing common laws.
  • Put corridor rules in all visible places.
  • Put small notes to remind people about specific duties.
  • Encourage people to clean by themselves now and then, for others but most importantly for themselves - the cleaning responsible needs to assure that the place is disinfected, but he/she is not supposed to scrub 2 hours other people’s mess.
  • Whenever things go wrong, take a post-it note, write something and put it on a door or a kitchen cabinet. No need to sign if it’s a common sense request. If you get mad and get violent with doors, or whatever, the person that is the cause of this might never get you. And if you lack or doubt your social and communication skills that are appropriate for other cultures, then writing is the same way. Remember to put “please!”. Magical word!
  • Have an end-of-the-week checklist, so that people can write their complaints in the easiest manner ever. Put a small pencil near.

Here are the documents that I have created for my corridor: corridor rules and notes, checklist. Welcome to share or modify!

Hope this helps some other people too :) My corridor.. it might be my impression but it’s way way better than how it used to be. Might not be perfect, but remember that no human being is perfect.

PostScriptum: the biggest plus is that you are not isolating yourself. You meet different cultures, you end up trying some new food, you get to hear about events the normal way - from a person you know, and not from a damned online social community to which you RSVP.