I live in a shared house with several other roommates. One of them signed the lease with the owner, and thus has authority to kick anyone out. Call him Dylan. Another roommate, Bob, is very outspoken and usually is the one making the actual decisions.
When I moved in I was told there was a cleaning system where everyone is on a schedule and has different chores that benefit the whole house (so not just cleaning up after yourself, but things like sweeping the hallway). I was never added to this cleaning system until several months later when we had our first roommate meeting.
I began to sense a negative vibe and couldn’t get a straight answer out of Bob/Dylan what was wrong. From the way they spoke to me, they seemed mad but wouldn’t tell me why. I spoke with my friend who was the one who recommended me to move in, asking if he could find out what was up. He told me they were mad at me because I hadn’t been helping clean, and they are thinking of kicking me out. My "friend" told Dylan I had been complaining a lot, and I guess this pushed him over the edge and he finally confronted me saying I didn’t do cleaning for the first several months.
The following statements are true facts
- I am bad at cleaning, in the sense that specific ideas just don't occur to me (for example my roommate said he swept under the rug and that idea never occurred to me) and I guess I'm not as sensitive to dust as other people
- I would like to continue living in the house for at least another year
- I am willing to make a change
- On several occasions I had asked Bob/Dylan if there was something I could do to help but was not given a clear answer
- Bob and Dylan live on a different floor than I do, so I only share the main floor with them. So this is what they use to assess how much cleaning I've been doing.
- I normally try NOT to clean when people are around, as to not inconvenience them.
This is my understanding based on my observations: to Bob and Dylan it’s very important people take initiative and not be asked to clean. But it seems that they need to judge whether someone is helping or not. Most other people in the house make a big show of it when they’re doing something, I had assumed this was just their personality but I guess this is some kind of hidden way to prove they are helping. For example when someone was mopping he would say "come look how dirty the water is!" or "I’m going out to cut the grass now!". My personality is not like that, I think it’s immature to try to impress people by showing them you’re doing work. But, I’m willing to compromise.
So the question is, what’s the best way to get Dylan and Bob to think I am cleaning? I am comfortable taking pictures before and after and sending to them as proof, though this may be a bit too overt. (Dylan likes to stress the importance of "trust" though I think he’s being a bit hypocritical of this if he’s accusing me of not cleaning enough, so I think a discreet method is necessary).
My other idea is to clean up at the same time another person is, so he can vouch for me. I could play it up as "I just find it more motivating when I see someone else cleaning" (which I do).
I find it’s becoming counterproductive: now I see no point in cleaning unless someone is watching me since I’ll still would be accused of not cleaning. Also, being a shared house, I err on the side of caution. There are many situations where I see something that could be junk but I don’t want to through it out or move it encase someone needs it. To complicate matters my assigned chores are currently obsolete (the dishwasher broke down and there is snow on the lawn). Also since so many people are doing other things, I find it hard to find something that hasn't already been cleaned. This is why I tried asking what I can do to help, but they find this annoying. To be clear I always have been helping with cleaning, just not enough in comparison with the amount Bob and Dylan do.
In these types of situations would it help smooth things over if I make a friendly gesture, like buy pizza for everyone for dinner (of course in addition to actually cleaning more)?
UPDATE: for anyone else reading this I strongly advise against following the advice in the comments and answers. Sucking up to people doesn't work. With me washing everyone's dishes by hand gives no incentive to get the dishwasher working and it's simply wasn't fair.