LAWRENCE, KS—Chad Doogan, 20, a resident of the economically ravaged back bedroom at 1409 Oakwood Drive, received a huge setback Monday, when a humanitarian proposal calling for the forgiveness of his outstanding debts was vetoed by his two roommates.
"Look, I know Chad's snowed under a mountain of bills right now, but that's no reason for him to get off scot-free," said Doug Huygens, 22, one of the apartment's two superpowers. "Chad's a good guy and all, but this is getting ridiculous. He's owed us a ton of money for months. Now he wants a free ride? I'm sorry, man, but that's bullshit."
According to Doogan, his large accumulated debt and his extremely low gross annual income have created a cycle of poverty that he can't escape.
"Dude, I got to put at least $300 into my car to get that shitheap running again, or how else am I supposed to deliver pizza?" the embattled Doogan said from his living-room couch, where he has spent the past two weeks. "There's no way I can afford to do that and pay the back rent I owe, plus three months of cable bills and beer money. Plus, I still owe like $100 on the noise-complaint ticket we got from that spring-break party. How am I supposed to pay any of it back if I can't work at Pizza Pete's?"
Doogan and supporters of his debt-relief plan are calling for the immediate cancellation of 85 to 100 percent of his incurred debt.
"If the guys would forget about the money I owe them, or at least the back rent, I could fix my car and pick up a bunch of shifts," Doogan said. "It's in their best interest. Not only could I stop begging them for rent, but I could also start chipping in for groceries and video games and all that."
Huygens and roommate Jake Epstein, 24, said they first provided Doogan with emergency funds last winter, when they granted him an aid package in the form of a no-interest loan obtained through the Apartmental Monetary Fund, founded by Huygens and Epstein in February 2004 at the behest of third-roommate advocacy groups, such as Doogan's buddies Dan "Cosmo" Richards and Douglas "Scooter" Pye.
"Cosmo and Scooter were all like, 'C'mon, Chad's a good guy, have a heart,'" Epstein said. "So finally, me and Doug were like, 'Okay, okay, we'll float him some cash, but only for a few weeks until he gets his shit together.' Well, you can see how great that worked out."
Although the donor roommates supplied additional aid in the months that followed, the AMF placed strict conditions on the loans. These conditions were designed to accomplish three goals: to prevent corruption and misuse of funds, to ensure that the monies were spent wisely, and to reduce third-roommate economic isolationism, integrating the debtor's personal economy more fully into the interdependent apartmental community.
"We only asked for three things, man," Huygens said regarding the structure of the loan. "First, that Chad quit partying so much. Second, that he open a checking account so he can budget his cash. And third, that he bring his kickass stereo system out of his bedroom and into the living room where we can all enjoy it. It was only fair."
While Doogan initially accepted the terms, he later issued complaints that the conditions were unnecessarily restrictive.
"I'm sick of Doug and Jake looking over my shoulder every time I want to rent a DVD or buy a friggin' beer," Doogan said. "Look, I'm sorry that I don't have a big allowance from my rich parents like they do. I wouldn't be asking the guys for money if they couldn't afford it."
Huygens and Epstein said Doogan failed to honor the conditions of the loan.
"Three days after we gave him this big loan, we came back from a weekend ski trip and the whole place was totally trashed," Huygens said. "There were beer cans everywhere, food and chips and shit all over the floor, and the bathroom was a friggin' disaster."
The AMF imposed sanctions against Doogan immediately thereafter, refusing additional loans until the environmental damage stopped. But after loans failed to bring an end to the spiraling third-roommate debt, a more radical concept was introduced by an outspoken Chad advocate, Epstein's girlfriend Liz Borowitz.
"Liz was all over me about how I gotta be there for my buddy when he needs me," Epstein said. "She's, like, this total softie who rescues cats and shit. So she comes up with the bright idea that me and Doug should just forgive all the loans and let Chad start over on an even playing field. I was like, 'I'm sorry, Liz, but there's no way in hell...'"
Added Epstein: "Liz is super nice, but her idealist humanitarian policies are not financially sound. We set a dangerous precedent by bailing Chad out. It hardly motivates future roommates to be fiscally responsible, does it?"
Doogan implored Huygens and Epstein to reconsider their decision.
"How'm I supposed to better myself when all these forces are keeping me down?" Doogan said. "If I don't get out from under this debt, I can't pay tuition next semester and provide myself with an education. I'm under serious risk of reverting to living in my parents' basement, under their totalitarian regime. These dudes are my buddies—can't they see I'm the victim of macroeconomic forces I'm powerless to overcome? Jeez."