this is the third time i have been reprimanded by my super- our relationship has come to the point where i get that 'nervous internal feeling' i used to get when i was 5 and an adult was 'talking at me' and i felt the urge to wet my pants. the only difference is i now i can control it (usually) and i have the ability to speak rationally in a tough grown- up manner.
it would help if there weren't a language barrier- but we live in new york- some things just "are".
let me preface this by saying that we moved to this truly lovely apartment 9 months ago- before that we lived in the GHETTOOOOoooo- seriously- no exaggeration- THE ghetto- in east flatbush, new york; i cannot remember if it was my first encounter with the undercover detectives (knocking at our door to ask if we'd witnessed anything of the shooting "no, officer- just a young man shot dead right outside, but no, i didn't see the shooter, only the boy/man victim- moving as if in slow motion- with a look of bewilderment and then peace as he sort of "threw" his note book into the air. he fell gracefully to the ground as his loose leaf floated down, cascading like giant snowflakes around him) or the second (when our key wouldn't work in the front door and before calling the team of "supers" (use the term super LoooHOOO sleeee) sly and a neighbor attempted to enter the apartment by climbing down the fire escape and through our window- it didn't work (if you were wondering- the door finally opened by kicking (2 dudes and one broad). approximately 4 hours after sly had been on the fire escape, the police showed up, responding to a break and entry call- the good news? doors in the projects are difficult to get through. the bad news? breaking and entering isn't high on the rapid response list.) or maybe, actually it was the third time, now that i think about it- (after the fire in which we had to evacuate via the fire escape, handing our then 2 month old to a fireman and following to safe ground when an officer first asked "if you don't mind me asking, what are YOU doing here" followed by "you know that you are lucky to live up near nostrand ave, right? this is what we refer to as "the front page". great. comforting. super. my point here- in this large blurb- is that we aren't spoiled and we ain't rich. we don't complain. we try to live as peacefully and as uneventfully as possible. we try to fix it ourselves or leave it alone.i wasn't going to mention this, because it's embarrassing and gross and the 2 people that read this have been here and they've probably noticed but didn't say anything because it is gross and what would you say "um, there's hair here and here and there and over there....?" we never complained about the floors- we simply weighed our options- did we really want to move all our stuff out or around to have the floors redone? couldn't we all just get along? what is wrong with your floors, you may wonder.did you know? helen keller has a floor refinishing business- she must- look it up. our floors have hairs- lots of long black hair under the varnish- and a size 13 shoe sticker (you know the little clear round ones) and strands of garland (festive)-and a bit of gum that must have come in on the bottom of helen's shoe the day she did the bedroom floor. it all lives under the varnish- AND we don't have a peephole. now you know.
enter our new apartment and our super- who is a GOOD guy, but i'm beginning to think that he might be a little crazy. the first time we needed him the string on the light in our bathroom broke. yes, i said "string". this is an old building and the main lights in the kitchen and bathroom are still string operated. so, after about 1 day of living here the string just broke off in my hand. i froze and if i hadn't just relieved myself i might have right then & there. but i didn't, because i just did.
anyway, for about 1 week we slept with the bathroom light on- which doesn't sound like a big deal after the constant of helicopters hovering every night, gunfire and pot smoke wafting under your door (east flatbush). but it was a big deal. it was like torture. the light was bright- like the sun- only not as sunny.
we finally left a note (following protocol) for the super. he showed up about 3 days later and he was not happy.
"ju pull dee string too haaard, i feex one time but next time i not do favor. you tink i work for free?"
i was embarrassed and startled and offended; a rocket scientist i am not, but i do know how to pull a light string- you simply hold it between tips of thumb and forefinger and with a slight tip of the wrist - there is LIGHT. now that i think about it and re-read this- i don't think it physically possible to pull the string too hard- what with the diameter of the string, it is hard to get any grip at all.....
he fixed it- begrudgingly and we moved on.
the next time we needed him he was even angrier.
again with a door; only this time we were locked IN our apartment. we tried everything- sly offered to go down the fire escape, but we both quickly agreed that in a neighborhood of one black man (sly) that was probably NOT the best idea - always a huge fan of fear factor (and having prior fire escape experience) i went. - upon my arrival at the bottom level (about 12 feet or so from the concrete - i don't know the exact measurement, but i consider myself a daredevil and this was too high to jump-) i discovered that the slide-y ladder thing had been painted in the "up" position- no matter how much strength i applied- to unhook and wiggle and maneuver - the ladder wasn't going down. back up and in was i. of course we didn't have telephone numbers for the super or the landlord- that would've been too easy. we called my dad (in north carolina) he was an ironworker and i swear he CAN fix anything (he built shea stadium all by himself- he could clearly get us out). he coached us. we tried every thing: alas, the door is old- maybe even original c. 1920ish- not one of those "oh, just remove the hinge models" it is one with the heavy spring behind the door- and mammoth hinges. we tried. to no avail. at one point i contemplated sending a note down to the ground, sort of like joan crawford in whatever happened to baby jane but i worried that bette davis would find it and i'm pretty confident there ARE rats in the cellar.
with all possible options exhausted, we called nypd. they were great. they came fast AND spoke to us through the door: "so, whaddyouse want us to do?"- "um, see if the super is here?" they did and returned to ask us to stand back as they needed to knock the door down. the super wasn't home and wouldn't be home for another 6 hours or so- policy is policy and once nypd knows you are stuck/locked in- they are not allowed to leave you.
stand back we did
i waited for gunfire
or that giant medal ram thing
but in two swift kicks the door was OPEN- this isn't the ghetto, virginia- the doors kick in easily here.
we called the landlord to explain what happened- he wasn't too happy at first- he thought we were locked OUT- when i explained we were locked in he was awesome and sent another laborer over to fix the door.
the super showed up later
red faced and breathing heavy "why you call landlord? i feex when i get home- and you lock youselves out dat not my problem- you call de locksmit". sheesh and egad this dude has pms issues or something.
we were locked out of the bedroom.
this is the 2nd time in two days that the door handle ended in the lock position. yesterday with a little (frantic) jiggling the door opened.
today? not so lucky.
we tried the nail in the hole trick- and the chopstick too- we tried a skewer and kitchen thermometer. i climbed out the bathroom window and tried to open the bedroom window (no doing, crafty do it yourselfer sly strategically taped (with the free usps click n' ship tape) the window to stop the cold air leaks- the window wouldn't budge.
i did the walk of shame (sly couldn't go- he was wearing underpants- as he was about to change pre-lock dilemma- he had taken off his his pants- went into the bathroom and then i shut the bedroom door. and i don't really know why i shut the door- i had no reason- i was compelled to do it- it felt so right. and then? LOCK) down to the super's apartment. i followed protocol and left a note- with arrows- so he wouldn't miss it and i came back upstairs. an hour or so later- full of shame, fear and remorse, i descended the stairs again- this time knocking on the super's door- which was eventually answered by his (grumpy) wife. the super would be home at 6- and she would send him up.
at 7 sly went down (he found his pj bottoms hanging on the bathroom door). at 7:10 sly came back- redfaced (i think- it's so hard to tell) and short of breath- "the super will be up when he is done with dinner and we have to tip him"
that is all i will say here- because it was whiny and whiny is never pretty.
i called the landlord and explained that no one intentionally locked the door- the handle is cheap (i didn't say that) the handle is loose (that is what i said) and we've been having problems with the door sticking and then you have to really grip the handle and turn and pull hard- and it sort of locked itself.
the landlord called the super
and sybill showed up.
he was R-E-D. and his pant zipper was down- which i couldn't decide if i should tell him- i mean i tried, but he was mad and i couldn't find the appropriate moment to interject "your barn door is open" which probably would have been lost on him anyway.
"because we won't pay for this- it isn't our fault" (Yeah YEAH- what SHE said) i replied.
"i not say you pay. i tell heem (point to sly) i feex one time as favor- and mebee you teep me- nex time you pay" (what? and great!- the armenian speaking to the tobagonian- no barriers HERE).
and by sheer luck i showed him what had happened on the bathroom knob and THERE IS SOMEONE WATCHING OVER ME- the doorknob goddesses smiled down- the bathroom knob locked itself and stayed locked- no matter what the super tried- it WOULDN'T open. i had to turn away and take my 'smug' into the kitchen.
sly left for his part time night gig
and i watched the super sweat and grovel while he fixed both knobs.
he DID yell a little more
sharing with me
"i done like yur nodes- (my what?) you leef on ze bord and eevereeone knows." i apologized for the arrows pointing to my message on the board and explained that sly needed pants and not pajamas as he had to leave for work-this was a pants emergency.
the bedroom is fixed.
the bathroom is sort of fixed.
the landlord is mad.
and this blog is done.
oh. i made awesome, incredible, simple yet somehow indulgent cream cheese cookies (kolacky)- filled with fruit jam- for a photo shoot as addition to our holiday fodder. they are yummy and wonderful- phew.