9 Awesome Ways to Irritate Your Business Travel Roommate

To keep travel costs down more and more companies ask (okay, require) same-sex travelers to share a room. A friend of mine works for a Fortune 500 company that now requires employees to room together on the road; estimated annual savings: $430,000.

Great for the company's bottom line, not so great for him.
While room sharing is, well, awful, there are time-tested ways to make the best of a terrible situation. Since the best defense is a great offense, here are nine ways to have fun irritating your business travel roommate:

  1. Be the first to shower in the morning. Then you get to dress alone while your roommate showers. If he wants privacy he'll be forced to put on his clothes in the steamy bathroom.
  2. Don't agree on an approximate "lights out" time. Lack of certainty breeds discomfort, especially when your roommate wants to go to sleep. Stay up, and make sure to bring a book with stiff pages. The sound of a page scraping across a sheet as it's turned is fingernails-on-a-chalkboard irritating to someone trying to sleep.
  3. Make personal phone calls from the room. Then, during at least one call, pause, lower your voice a little and say, "Um... okay, I guess... um... look, I'll tell you later." Guaranteed your roommate will think you're talking about him. And speaking of phone calls...
  4. Never leave the room when your roommate makes a personal call. If you really want to book him a trip to discomfort city, never allow even the illusion of privacy. Laugh when he says something funny, make occasional eye contact, and after the call say, "Forgive me for asking... but is everything at home okay?"
  5. Play Scattergories. Don't keep your stuff to yourself; sharing a room means sharing everything. Leave dirty clothes out, scatter things throughout the room, and take special care to leave your toilet articles around the sink.
  6. Join at the hip. Be proactive: Early in the day ask, "Where do you want to eat later?" Or, "Hey, what do you want to do tonight?" Act as if spending the entire trip together is a given. Most people are too polite to say, "You know, I was thinking of (doing something without you)..."
  7. Build a deeper relationship. Ask personal questions. (This one works especially well if your roommate is above you on the corporate food chain.) "Get to know" your roommate. When you do, it's the gift that keeps on giving: Not only will you enjoy the immediate discomfort when personal barriers are broken, but your roommate will be uncomfortable every time he sees you at work. Win-win!
  8. Be helpful. In the morning, say, "You know, a friend of mine got this dental appliance that basically cured his snoring." If he says, "What? I don't snore," say, "Oh, okay... I hate it when I get congested, too."
  9. Never, ever use the bathroom in the lobby. Go local. Take the concept of an "elephant in the room" to an entirely new level.
Or do the opposite of this list and make the trip a lot better for the both of you.

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Photo courtesy Kay Kim(김기웅), CC 2.0