Saturday, October 21, 2006
Black Converse Footprints leading to my door - Apartment Blog 1
There is a trail of black footprints - converse size 7 1/2 - leading up the cracked marble steps of my building, straight to my door. It's there because of the latest hairbrained repairs my landlord's team came up with.
I live in Manhattan on the second floor, right above a Chinese restaurant. My landlord is Chinese. I've been in this place for 15 years now. I had a lease the first year I moved in, but have been lease-less ever since. I figure it must because my landlord is doing something shady. The rent doesn’t go up and he leaves me alone so I put up with some of the odd things such as the mafia-like delivery boys smoking in the hallway.
The first 14 and a half years I was here the outside glass doors displayed the title "out-patient treatment center" written backwards. Made me feel like going out was like getting therapy. It was particularly funny because not only did my landlord get the doors second hand, but they installed the things backward and were too lazy to even scrape the writing off. Earlier this year the building next to me went luxury condo (a big trend in the new middle-classless New York City) so my landlord suddenly replaced the shoddy doors that I so loved with new, fancy gated doors.
My first realization of the workmanship of the immigrants my landlord prefers to contract was about 3 years after I moved in. The tile around my bathroom tub started falling off the wall. When I inspected, I found that the tile had been laid on drywall (for dry walls) instead of on cement board, which is why the drywall eventually rotted away due to the moisture of my shower and all the tile fell out. I repaired the damage myself, not wanting any of his handymen in my apartment ever again.
The next encounter with his workers happened again in the bathroom.
Because of the close proximity of the buildings of the city, restaurants must run all ventilation from the kitchen up to the rooftop. The vent from the restaurant downstairs goes straight up from the kitchen, then takes a right turn and travels across my ceiling where I have a vent just above my toilet. From there the vent goes straight up to the roof. Some days my bathroom smells like eggrolls - just one of the prices to pay when you live in the center of Manhattan. One afternoon I was taking a shower when I heard a loud pounding accompanied by men screaming in Chinese. My hair and body was covered with soapy water, but the intensity of the earth-rocking pounding was of such magnitude I ran out immediately, threw on some sweats and soggily jumped out the door to scream up the stairs for them to stop. I went back to my bathroom just in time to see a huge grey brick attached to a rope come through the vent above the toilet causing the iron screen to crash to the floor along with a ton of black soot and rubble. More incomprehensible screaming followed, and the brick attached to the rope was pulled up and down despite me yelling for them to stop, until the porcelain lid of my toilet was broken through and the water at the back reached. Their idea of cleaning the vents could have cost me my life.
Somehow my landlord never figured out it's nice to inform tenants when repairs are being made. The latest example:
Last Thursday at 6:30 pm, in lieu of re-laying tile, it was decided by someone to paint the old tile of the entrance and hall-way leading to the stairs. I didn't receive a notice. Personally, if I were paining the floors of the only exit of the building I would paint one side of the hall, wait until it dried, and then paint the other side. I guess this never occurred to them, because it was entirely black and wet. At 7:30, late for an appointment with my editor I went down the stairs intending to check the mail before running out. Discovering I was trapped, I made a hasty decision to slide across, get my mail (I was expecting important papers) and return to my place to drop the mail off before running to my appointment. In hindsight I suppose I could have removed my shoes before going up the steps, but I was in a hurry and really pissed off, so I left them on. Now I have a nice trail of footprints to lead all of my guests to the right door.