ROCKFORD, IL—With rents soaring and operating costs at an all-time high, management at the Auburn St. Taco Bell decided earlier this month to lessen their financial burden by taking on a roommate, 24-year-old Mark Studer.
Manager Andy Parker said he found the Tex-Mex chain’s new occupant after posting a classified ad on Craigslist.org. The online ad reportedly offered a 100-square-foot storage room, with access to a modern restaurant-style kitchen, shared public bathroom, and spacious walk-in fridge, for $325 a month.
Studer, who fit the qualifications of being a responsible non smoker with no pets, replied to the notice and was quickly approved to move in following a brief interview.
"We were really excited about getting a roommate," said Parker, who claimed that the restaurant would have had to move to a cheaper location were it not for the extra rent money. "Everybody got along great with Mark at first, and it was fun to have someone new around the place. Plus, he's got this really amazing collection of wrestling DVDs."
"Unfortunately, Mark also has a tendency to leave his clothes all over the dining room floor and walk around the kitchen in his boxers while we're trying to cook," Parker added. "And yesterday he left his car parked in the drive-thru for like 12 hours. That's just inconsiderate."
Since moving in, Studer has irritated several members of the Taco Bell staff. On Monday, the new roommate refused to wash a stack of his dirty dishes, claiming that he should be paid just like anyone else for his efforts. In addition, Studer reportedly inconvenienced dozens of customers on Friday by throwing a keg party during business hours, and letting his friend Dave crash inside a booth for three days.
The new living situation has frustrated both full-time and part-time employees, many of whom have complained about not being able to focus on their work with Studer constantly around. Head cashier Dana Canty, 19, said she was forced to quit last week after Studer entered her work area on several occasions wearing nothing but a towel. Others claimed that Studer is the worst roommate they've ever worked with.
"One morning I came in and he had used up all the hot sauce packets without even leaving a note," said Doug Marzec, who works the early shift at Taco Bell. "And last week, he pretty much ate all the shredded cheese in our fridge and then said he'd get us back the next time he went shopping."
Added Marzec, "We couldn't serve half our menu that day."
While Studer has infuriated employees by pounding on the windows after misplacing his keys, tension between the new roommate and staff reportedly reached its breaking point Wednesday, when Studer left the front door open all night, and costly Taco Bell property was stolen.
"Sure, it sucks when customers get angry about Mark shaving in the bathroom, or when he leaves half-eaten pizza on the counter, but this is too much," Parker said. "They took our damn Frialator."
For his part, Studer said he is also unhappy with the current arrangement. Calling his new living situation "fucking gross," the 24-year-old was appalled to discover that his roommates never washed their hands, and was tired of "people stinking up his home" with their "disgusting food."
"That stuff lingers forever," said Studer, adding that it'd be nice if someone cooked something other than Mexican every now and again. "I can still smell it on my clothes and pillow."
In addition, Studer said he was getting tired of the steady stream of people showing up in his home at all hours of the night.
"What's up with all these drunk losers coming over at 2 a.m.?" he said. "This place isn't bad, but I'm totally going to bail if people aren't more respectful around here."
Taco Bell management claimed that if the situation didn't improve soon, they would call a house meeting to kick out Studer, and instead supplement their income by giving guitar lessons.