Did you ever see that Seinfeld episode where the mechanic was so obsessed with Jerry’s car that he ran off with it when he was supposed to fix it? Well, if my super could run off with my apartment, I think he would.
Buddy was way too eager to fix the crack in my ceiling. In fact, instead of working on that single crack, he replastered my entire living room. “Oh, it’ll only take 2 days- 3 days max,” Buddy said, assuredly, “and, um, well, we’ll have to paint over the plaster, of course, and uh, well, sand the plaster down before we paint, of course, but don’t worry, we’ll move all your furniture into your bedroom so we won’t get any dust on it.”
“So, I’m going to have to sleep with all my living room furniture for the next 2 days?”
“3 days, max.”
“Ok, and how much is this going to cost me?”
“I’ll let you know the sum total once we’re done.”
Of course, I thought.
After the fourth day of climbing over my entertainment center in order to get dressed for the day, I texted Buddy: when will you be done?
He texted back: today!
I was so relieved, because it was Friday, and I couldn’t bear to live like this through the weekend. By late afternoon Buddy texted: Everything’s finished today, ceiling is painted, we cleaned up and mopped the floor but I need to touch up just one spot on the ceiling. I will get to it on Monday.
I read it again. So, was it done, or not done? When I got home, I saw the “spot” he was talking about, and I texted him right back: the spot is barely noticeable. you don’t have to come on monday to fix it. thanks for all your hard work!
Enough with all the dust from the sanding, I thought. I moved my furniture back into the living room that night, happy to have my apartment back.
Monday arrived, and when I got home that evening, I noticed that my super went in and worked on that last spot on my ceiling anyway. There was dust all over my sofa. This is what I expected from Buddy, and I have come to realize that although I technically own my apartment, it’s really Buddy’s to do whatever he wants to it.
He would put little additions, like a magnet for the chain to the lock on my door. I would remove the magnet because my clothes would get caught, but he would put it right back on. I gave up and left it there, awkwardly closing the door so my sleeve wouldn’t get caught. I asked Buddy one time if there was something wrong with the electrical wiring of my apartment because my light bulbs kept going out.
“You need to use incandescent bulbs.”
“But they don’t sell those anymore.”
“I have some. I’ll change your bulbs today.”
The good news is, the bulbs haven’t blown since he changed them, but now the amount of lighting in my home is just a little more than candlelight. Sitting in the barely lit apartment, I knew there was no point in putting back my old bulbs. It was so dim, my tv was brighter than those bulbs. I couldn’t tell that my clothes were wrinkled, linted, or even what color they were until I went outside where there was a normal amount of lighting.
Buddy is young, as far as superintendents go, but has an air of confidence, and has manners and a way of speaking that you would normally find in a middle-aged man. He always addresses the elderly in the building as Mr. and Mrs., and greets the residents in the entrance by saying, “Welcome home.” He has a full head of jet black hair and a complexion of a permanent sunburn. Although he doesn’t look to be in very good shape, he hauled up my air conditioner with ease. When he first started here 14 years ago, he was a scrawny teenager, but has taken his physique to fit into his title as super, as his belly has grown immensely over the years.
Now people would tell me that I should be grateful that I have such a competent and attentive super, but he may have gone too far with what happened last week.
I hired a contractor to re-tile my bathroom. A couple of Russian guys showed up the day the job was supposed to start- they didn’t speak a word of English. Buddy went nuts and wouldn’t let them use the elevator and demanded to see their certificate of insurance. They just looked at each other and mumbled something in Russian and left. I got home to find that nothing got done.
“Uh, I didn’t understand what they were saying,” Buddy tried to explain after I asked him what happened, “all I did was ask them for their certificate of insurance.”
“I faxed a copy over to management yesterday,” afraid of looking too upset, because if I looked too upset, I knew Buddy had the power of blocking anybody from working on my apartment.
I called my contractor the next day to apologize for the confusion.
“That guy had no right to that to them!” He gave me an earful, “You know I paid them for a full day’s work for nothing!?!!”
“I’m so so sorry, but I straightened everything out, and everything will be ok next time you send them over.” Dead silence on the other end. He hung up.
I took the morning off to make sure that the tilers were allowed into the building and able to start the work. They were met with scowls from the building staff, but work was allowed to start. Because of all the extra tension, I called my office to let them know that I wasn’t coming in at all that day to witness the tough time Buddy gave them. He wouldn’t let them open the windows even though it was stifling hot because they were creating too much dust, he wouldn’t let them use the sink in the utility room, so they made a mess of my kitchen sink. I was lucky the tilers didn’t put up too much of a fuss, and it only took them a couple of days to finish the job. They were in such a rush to get out of there that the grout was laid on too quickly and started to peel off. I didn’t even want to call my contractor to have them back and fix it, and just left it alone.
The lightbulbs that Buddy installed finally blew. I put in my old ones. Several hours later, they started to flicker.