Sunday, August 13, 2006

The New York City Super

I have discovered another breed of being--The New York City Super.

The NYCS is not concerned with his job or the welfare of those he might otherwise save from jammed doors, frozen heaters or malfunctioning ovens. When his phone rings, he scans calls, recognizes tenants' numbers and silences the call. When he schedules appointments, he arrives no earlier than 45 minutes late, if at all. Upon his much-sought-after arrival, he wields WD-40 like Arthur's sword, leaving your apartment in a filmy layer of grease.

The NYCS is a force to be reckoned with.

This is my latest New York discovery. Last Sunday, after a relaxing afternoon in the Central Park sun, I returned home to discover our door no longer responded to my key. I twisted, pushed, pulled and yanked until I slumped against the wall in defeat, surreptitiously removed my bikini top from underneath my T-shirt and resigned to finally starting The Kite Runner, which had sat in my bag for over a week basically untouched.

When I could no longer take the saccharine Sunni and Shi'a allegorical friendship of Amir and Hassan, I stood up once more, gave the door one more try and, somehow, got into the apartment. J was already on his way home from work, having asked to leave early to help me get in or find a locksmith. While I waited for his return, dreading that he would be frustrated that I had already gotten through the door, I hopped in the shower which I had been dreaming of since I had left the park nearly an hour and a half before.

Now, really, as NYCS horror stories go, that's not all that bad. J and I figured a way to switch the automatic lock off and used the deadbolt to enter and exit our apartment with no incident--until yesterday.

As we gathered our stuff to go sailing in Larchmont, NY with J's cousin, Nick, we left the apartment, somehow switching the automatic lock back on as we exited. We realized this mistake almost immediately after it happened and started making the appropriate calls. First, Megan, from who we are subletting. Then, Curtis, our NYCS. Finally, Julie, J's sister, to see if "worst came to worst" we could somehow find our way to her Brooklyn apartment for a night's rest.

Fortunately, as our day wore on, we scheduled an appointment with Curtis (with Megan's help) at 11 pm, right about the time we expected to return from Larchmont. Despite all the wine we had drank and the lengthy trainride down to Grand Central (as opposed to the 125th and East River stop which J wanted so badly to get off at), we made it back to our apartment by 11:05. With no Curtis in sight, we tried the door and discovered he had been by earlier in the day to force the door open with the master key. Shocking. It didn't make much sense for Curtis to be coming back by, to maybe prove he had done his job or spray the WD-40 once more for good measure. But we decided to wait for him, pushing back our bedtime for the sup'. J called him twice while we waited, once when he was fifteen minutes late, again when he was a half hour tardy. Finally, at 11:45, I called from my line, which I figured he would not recognize and thus ignore, and demanded he come right away. He, it turned out, was downstairs, on his way in the building.

Curtis looked about what I had imagined Curtis Jackson would look like. Gruff, with acne scars and a patchy beard, his hair picked out to a small 'fro and shoved under a baseball hat. He wore what looked like a standard super uniform, mess pants and a button down shirt of a uniform blue that suggested prison or military service. He showed us what we already knew about the automatic lock and then went on to spray the lock box with his precious WD-40. The lock, he guessed, was probably not broken, probably just sticky. Thanks to my recently-gleaned This Old House skills, I knew he was wrong. The box had already come out of the door once, and I had screwed it back in. That spring inside the lock box had definitely come off its track or broken somehow else. Regardless, the lock box doesn't need a greasing-down; it needs to be replaced.

Curtis seemed a little surprised that a tenant would be talking at all about the anatomy of the door, let alone that it would be the chick who'd pipe up and tell him how she'd already fixed the door once. I blessed This Old House as he left us alone, promising to tell them that it did need replacing and it would be done Monday.

We let him know we'd give him a call on Monday, given that we'll probably not hear from him.

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