As all three of my regular readers know I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a place I fell out of love with awhile ago.
My apartmentâ€™s pretty, in a quasi-luxury apartment building, but it doesnâ€™t have a real kitchen. Sacrificed that so I can be insulted by my doormen. Most of the old doorman were â€œencouragedâ€ to retire, and they made this young street kid, head doorman over Fernando who has been here 20 years and has just had his seventh child.
My personal feelings on that subject are beside the point. I like Fernando. Once we were talking:
â€œIn my countryâ€¦â€
â€œUh, Fernando, you were born in the Bronx.â€
Fernando thinks for a second.
â€œOh yes, I was. In the country of my parentsâ€¦.â€
Didnâ€™t say, â€œAnd you graduated from a city high school.â€ It probably reflects more on the school system then him.
The thing is that doormen are essential to the life of a New Yorker. They help make life a bit easier. Fernando might not be the brightest bulb on the planet, but heâ€™s a good doorman. He cares.
Most of the doorman think that we work for them. When I couldnâ€™t leave my apartment I arranged with FedEx to pick up a package from my apartment. The doorman wanted me to bring it downstairs. The Super hand picked him; he picks all the new doorman, and made this idiot who snubs everybody head doorman. The Super made new rules: the doormen arenâ€™t allowed to be friendly to the residents. This is the only building I know where the residents are supposed to take the burden off the doormen. Iâ€™m all for helping people but opening doors and helping residents is their job.
Hello, this is New York. Some people only have doormen for friends. Iâ€™m not about to name names, but I know that because I see them talking earnestly to the doormen. Okay Fernando tells me about the lonely residents; my neighbor and I are starting something to change that.
I live in the only building where the Super rules the Board of Directors and thinks he can just run into my apartment when he feels like it. When I tell him New York State law on that subject he just spits, in my apartment. Very sanitary. Makes me take out the bleach and bleach everything possible.
He doesnâ€™t spit phlegm; he just makes a face like heâ€™s about to, and does the pursed lip almost spit thing which is even worse.
After 9/11, my mom died suddenly, and my apartment was besieged by floods. I couldnâ€™t be vigilant about checking for floods as the memos stated because I didnâ€™t cause them.
Iâ€™m the only person I know to have a major flood that was caused by the apartment below mine. Thatâ€™s right below mine. My building is one of the many Upper West Side buildings that had a non-eviction plan when it went coop. Personally I would have begged borrowed or stole to buy a six room apartment for under $40,000 in 1989, but they didnâ€™t and live most of the year in their country home. My apartment is their kitchen, maidâ€™s room and dining room. They have two huge bathrooms, one small one, a 30 foot entryway, a large living room and two large bedrooms.
I have a ten foot entryway with kitchenette, a small living room, huge bath off the living room, tiny bedroom with a very tiny entrance hall and a minuscule half bath in the bedroom.
Apparently they werenâ€™t being vigilant about possible floods because I kept on smelling something that smelled a lot like mold, but I could never find the source. Thatâ€™s because it was emanating from their apartmentâ€”the pipes had been corroding for years, and one fine Sunday they just burst. Somehow exploded up into my pipes and somehow I came home to a perfect circle of sand in my bedroom. Not thinking, I took the phone and went into the living room where I spoke to a friend for about an hour until I realized that there was sand in my bedroom.
I could take all the activity for the first week but they kept on finding more and more things to doâ€”and the Super would have his hand out all the timeâ€”which meant not $20 tips but $100 ones. My super thinks big.
I would say it wasnâ€™t the money that bothered me but I would be lying. More than that I just needed my apartment. All two roomsâ€”the board insists itâ€™s a three room apartment but Iâ€™ve never found the third room.
â€œLook,â€ I finally said to Super, â€œmy mom just died. I need my apartment. If you could give me a schedule of when people will be here, Iâ€™ll take my work and go to Starbucks.â€
â€œMy nephew died in The Trade Center.â€
I was truly sorry but it was one more instance of me finally saying something about my momâ€™s death, and being put in my place. Canâ€™t mourn an old lady who fell; got to get with the program.
So many people came right out and said it; â€œHow can you mourn your mother knowing that so many younger people died?â€
â€œBecause sheâ€™s my mother?â€
â€œBut she lived a long life.â€
Yes and those last fifteen minutes when she was conscious and crying to some stranger on her Companion Button that she had fallen into her bathtub and couldnâ€™t get up, Iâ€™m just supposed to forget that?
Maybe Iâ€™ve lived a sheltered life. That was the saddest thing that ever happened to me. I had never really mourned my dadâ€™s death. Was working at Social Security, and drowned myself in work so that I wouldnâ€™t have to deal with the reality. Had to keep him alive for my mom who had worshipped him.
I worshipped them both. The day of my momâ€™s funeral, The New York Times had an article about people who had loved ones die after the attack and how isolated they felt.
Iâ€™m a licensed social worker; then I was certified. I approached agencies to see if I could begin a support group for people like me. Nobody was interested. Had to help the families of 9/11 victims. I could always join that ever present support group â€œLosing a parent is hard at any age.â€
Would you join something that sounds like itâ€™s for pre-K.? I could just see Marlo Thomas singing the refrain, â€œhard at any age, yes any age.â€
Iâ€™m the first to admit that I have unresolved anger that usually doesnâ€™t hurt but sometimes when the super comes up, unannounced with one hand out and makes that spitting noise, I want to kill him.
What happened to The Trade Center and the almost 3,000 people in it was beyond my comprehension, but Iâ€™ve grown tired of being politically correct.
Iâ€™m beginning a revolution in this building because Iâ€™m sick of a super who runs it like a small fascist country. And Iâ€™m never going to apologize for missing my mom again. Never.