Today was born hot, the sun rising damp and dripping, hanging low over the roofs of the buildings. Even in the overly air-conditioned lobby, I could feel the temperature rising. With the early heat, the tenants all woke with their proverbial panties in a sweat-soaked vice-grip of a bunch.
My super, who usually starts out his morning around 7:30, glided out of the elevator 45 minutes early . He has a very peculiar, Nosferatu type glide to his entrance. The usually clattering elevator opens silently, and he slithers softly out of its chamber, not at an angle, but straight out, before turning 90 degrees in his spot to begin his slow movement up to the door. Half the time I don’t even hear him until he is but a few steps behind me, his eyes focused straight ahead, and just over his mustache.
This morning he noticed a dark spot directly in front of the door, and demanded that I mop it immediately. This would not be a problem, except that at this point there was a number of people leaving, and I was fearful that some of the older tenants, a group of whom had just stepped out to buy their morning papers and would be returning shortly, would slip on the spot. There was no caution sign, so I was forced to jackrabbit in between filling the bucket, getting the mop and checking worriedly at the door, a process made all the more difficult in that the Super insists on keeping the supply closet door locked, necessitating a scramble for the right key, which has three or four identical twins, each time I went back for an item.
Adding another layer to my chaos was the unexpected appearance of the building’s owner. Given the size of his sports car, he had me unload a surprising amount of stuff-including a rather larger fish trophy-from the trunk, all of which he was taking up to the 11th floor where his father has an apartment.
He himself has an apartment on the 5th floor, where he apparently stopped the elevator and tossed out a box and a duffel bag of his things. This, in turn, prompted a tenant to inform me on her way out, “Did you let a bald guy into the building?”
“Yes, Ma’am, that’s the owner.”
“Well, he threw a duffel bag out into the hallway, you need to tell Dracu-er, I mean, the Super immediately. It could be a bomb!”
“This was the fifth floor, right? Yeah, that’s Stephen, he owns the building.”
“Well, I don’t care who it is, it could be a bomb, and I will call the police!”
She apparently meant after her cup of coffee, as she left with me promising to let the Super know immediately, as he-like all vampires-has the ability to sniff out bombs.
I began cleaning a mirror, at which point the elevator doors opened silently, and again Count Super appeared to inform me that the brass in the elevators was not clean enough.
“Between the buttons?” I asked, as I’d spent a good deal of time polishing the panels.
He responded by rapping his knuckles on the panels, and incanting “the brass, the brass…”
Out of a sense of pride and self-discipline, I resolved to return this evening with ink and a tattooing needle and polish that brass until I could effectively give myself a tattoo by its reflection. It is a win-win situation for me, really. I’ve always wanted an surrealist portrait of Mick Jagger on my inner thigh.
At this point, the one-woman bomb squad returned, waited for me to run across the lobby to open the door, and then demand if the duffel bag had been defused.
I told her that I’d checked it myself, and it was the building owner’s, and I had asked and he had said he was neither an evil mastermind, nor trying to collect insurance by blowing up his building.
She then informed me that this building was not a tenement, which I took to mean that in tenements, the owners often leave duffel bags in the hallways of the building, and that this in it of itself was a grossly offensive and uncouth habit.
The woman then told me that she had lived in the building for thirty years, a key fact because as far as I know, it makes her the ranking expert as to whether the building is or is not a tenement. As a lackey just five days into his grind, I was very appreciative of this information and resolved, in the event that I ever owned a building, to NEVER leave my duffel bag in the hallway, lest people think it a tenement.
The conversation abruptly ended when the super pushed me out of the way for his morning cigarette. He is a pusher. It is one of his finer habits, and one that I would appreciate a great deal more if I was not astrologically aligned to constantly be in his way (“in his way” defined as in his general, gliding direction).
At 7:50, Harvery came to relieve me, declared the Bomb Squad a “caustic” or a “cosmic bitch”, got his McDonald’s breakfast, and graciously allowed me to effect my escape.
UPDATE: This week my “rung two” priorities, which I will spend four hours on, are improving my speaking voice and photography. I am using a program called “The Sound of Your Voice” and have read through Susan Sontag’s award-winning “On Photography”. If you do not know what I am talking about, I recommend the post “More Obsessive Business”.