In the fall of 2018 I joined three friends in living off-campus. We spent much of our first year as roommates figuring out what it meant to live together with other people in an environment that should require constant care and upkeep. Back then we got along without any major conflict, and we still do today. Any lingering problems are just those that all houses share: seldom-cleaned toilets, unvacuumed floors, and a sink that’s full of dishes that “someone else must’ve used.” But in November of that year we faced a mystery that threatened to divide us.
One of our first purchases for the house was a set of dinky $0.99 trash cans for our bathroom and laundry area. As the commonly accepted and praised parent of our house, I usually emptied (and still empty) most of the trash that accumulates in each room. This habit proved disastrous, however, when, on the night of November 28th, I emptied the bathroom trash-can.
I initially tipped the container into a larger bag, and several expected items— kleenex, TP tubes, and an empty deodorant stick— crashed into the bottom of the bag. But as the small can reached its apex, several clumps of dark, short, and curly hairs cascaded into the air. Had we put a plastic grocery bag into the can, I would’ve simply taken the whole bag out at once. But there was no plastic grocery bag to save me. Instead the hairs coated and the bathroom floor.
After the initial shock, my mind raced with several questions. Whose hair was this? Where, dare I ask, did this hair originally grow? What kind of monster shaves any kind of hair into a linerless trash can? How will the offender be punished?
Once I calmed down, I finished emptying the trash and washed my hands. Then I launched an inquisition, texting our house group message to confront the perpetrator and plan my investigation. Over the subsequent days, debates raged and accusations flew. Coalitions formed and proposed punishments were levied. Suspicions developed as we individually and publicly inspected each other for evidence of a recent trim. Out of the four of us, only one appeared to be the possible culprit, but this one offered and today still maintains a shaky, albeit plausible, alibi. Our investigation also considered a friend who frequented our home and another friend’s sibling, who had stayed with us the weekend before.
To this day, the mystery remains unsolved. The case has gone cold. Barring a confession, the malefactor responsible will evade justice, hopefully never to strike again.