Coping with Roommate Mortality

(Originally ran on January 12th, 2004 as "Coping with roommate mortality…at Wal-Mart")

At some point in all of our college careers, we each must ask ourselves, "what should I do if my roommate is tragically impaled playing 'chicken' with a Wal-Mart fork lift?" The pressures and responsibilities inherent in living away from home for the first time dictate that we must be ready to act in emergency situations. Here now is a helpful column dedicated to coping with SRDS (Sudden Roommate Death Syndrome).

I was recently doing some research into the topic of cryonics. Cryonics is the field that has developed the concept of deep-freezing the recently deceased in case scientists of the future develop medical cures for terminal diseases like cancer, leprosy, or decapitation. On their website ( they give a helpful overview of their 'product,' but they also offer advice for more immediate situations. The top of their home page features the following statement: "If you are not a member, but have an emergency situation, click here." The link takes you to a handy emergency checklist that helps you prepare a body for treatment.

If the person has already died, you are instructed to cool his or her head immediately. This can be done by "place (ing) ice cubes, or crushed ice, or water ice, in a plastic bag, and completely cover (ing) the top, back and sides of the person's head."

Now, in the case of a Wal-Mart impaling, or an accident in the Lee's produce section (pack bag with iceberg lettuce), such cooling materials should be plentiful, but a responsible roommate must be prepared for less convenient locals, such as the Haight Alumni Center. One must also be prepared to deal with emergencies even in their own dorm room. Say you wake up one night when two Mafia hit men fill your roommate with seventy-two rounds for failure to pay back gambling debts accrued during the Mr. USU pageant. For this reason, it is always good to keep a bag of ice in your refrigerator.

It is advisable to only store 1-2 ice bags at maximum; however, due to drought conditions your campus may or may not be experiencing. According to, couples in the Philippines are being asked to bathe together to conserve water. (Insert your own French joke here). Filling an entire tub full of ice would be an obvious abuse of material, particularly since a kitchen sink should provide ample room for the deceased's head. You'd just have to prop the rest of the body up on the counter.

Once you have properly cooled the victim's head, gives you three options. The first option is for if the victim isn't dead and IS NOT a Cryonics Institute member. The second is for if the victim IS dead but IS NOT a CI member. The third option if for CI members only.

After reviewing the three options, I have concluded that the key item to remember is to "be prepared." To date, none of my roommates are deceased, though some of them go through long periods of time without leaving our couch. Nevertheless, I don't feel comfortable leaving this kind of thing to chance. CI can't go forward with cryonics treatment until the 'patient' has full membership ($1250 dollars). They also specify that once a person is buried, they CANNOT BECOME A MEMBER. So my advice is to get your membership application in now. This may be a difficult concept for a segment of the population that typically writes composition papers roughly 3.2 seconds before they are due, but in situations like these, we must as a people rise above our limitations.

Once the head cooling and application process has taken place, a flood of important questions will permeate a roommate's mind, namely, "can I sell my roommate's hair to a local wig manufacturer?" The simple answer is no. According to, wig manufacturers employ remote villages for optimum hair growth, essentially contracting them for exclusive hair rights. These villages are a lot like hippie communes, except that the residents bathe. (Insert your second French joke here.) You can, however, donate your roommate's hair to various charitable organizations, like the Salvation Army or Amway.

We live in treacherous times. It is therefore important to look past our own selfish needs and prepare ourselves for tragedy on behalf of our roommates. Such action is critical if we are to have any hope of surviving to see the thrilling world of the future that will undoubtedly feature flying cars, microwave-ready Regis Philbin clones and "American Idol: Iraq."