“You can’t write this!” said the man after being told the news

January 17, 2008 at 6:19 pm (doormen, guilt, many reasons to sell an upper west side apartmen)

My new url is secretlivesofdoormen.com. Secretlife Please visit. Back to the title:
Oh you can’t? Watch me. I knew he meant it in as “make it up” but liked the headline. I had errands to do this morning, in my post manic pre real recovery haze.

I was told that the doorman who was caught doing the act in the laundry room, told me my tip wasn’t large enough while sneezing on me, forced an old man to give him money, finally went too far. He was caught in a person’s apartment urinating on the floor after having done other vile and gross things. He was finally fired.

The other doormen are scared that we will stop trusting them. We know who to trust and who not to.

Our super is a good man who lost close family members in 9/11 and was new then. I’m the girl who lost her mother the next month and just wanted to be left alone….

My super had first begun making unannounced visits the prior summer when I actually worked in an office not here. I could tell and complained to him. He couldn’t understand why I wanted notice on an non emergency basis. I explained and told him in light of the prior supers perversions he should be on best behavior.

I began free lancing that fall and had many floods beginning around Christmas. I wanted him here without notice when the floods happened but thought he could give me fifteen minutes notice for the rest of the work. He couldn’t. He continued to come in whenever he felt like. There were many mornings I had migraines–get them instead of crying. My Mom had just died. 9/11 had happened. I need space and got none. I was actually getting assignments and often had to be out at night, would write when I came home, and kind of love sleeping. Had a lot of cable problems too. Between the super and the cable company I felt as though I were under siege and forced to live a 9-5 life. Which is hard when you get home at Midnight and have an early AM deadline.

True I had three floods caused by old pipes bursting but…

I finally complained to the managing agent–our building’s staff and daily minutia is run by an outside firm and the unannounced visits stopped. I would trust this super with my life. But it’s the principle. You only go into a person’s apartment without permission in an emergency. Is that hard to understand?

Yes when the person is a single female who works at home. In the building they call him “old school” and expect me to understand that he can’t respect me as much just because I’m single and work at home. However, I have a strange charm, and keep things between us, so he does respect me, and is actually helping with the renovation. Want any boxes?

The super really comes to life when talking about pipes and floods. I have learned that my bedroom–part of the old kitchen and maids room has many pipes under the floor. This isn’t a good thing as until they found and capped them they could be prone to flooding. They also make it very hard to put new flooring on. The part that has the most–pipes covered with newspapers–was where the old soaking tub was. It’s now a cute entry hall.

A two bedroom two bath is now for sale for twice what I could get. It’s maintenance or monthly charges are about $250 more than mine. That is so unfair.

I just got my first 07 tax form. From the building. Though my monthly expenses went up over 40%, the building owes less in mortgages and I can deduct less. I guess that’s good for selling.

I can’t wait to move so I can set my own sleeping hours 🙂

And I will have money to spend on other things besides apartment costs, health insurance, food and other luxuries.

My one political statement in this blog. Health insurance shouldn’t be a luxury.

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I know how the flu is spread

January 17, 2008 at 2:44 am (doormen, guilt)

People sneeze in elevators.  Nobody is looking so they don’t cover their face or use a tissue.  They let the germs get into the air.  They press buttons.  Elevators are the last uncontained containment around.  I was fine when I woke up Monday.  An hour later….you don’t want to know about my week.

My doorman/contractor was sick all last week.  Yes I have much more sympathy for him now.  Yes I want to delete this blog.  Yes I don’t deserve such good and nice people in my life, but….

I will be back next week when I’m human.  I don’t even make fun of my friends in Courting. If anybody should be made fun of….I make fun of me….

I’m having an incredible guilt attack.  I made an appointment for him at my friends hair salon.  He thanked me profusely for so many things.  I wanted to tell him not to thank me, I don’t deserve to be thanked….

I should press the blog “delete” button yet….

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In Manhattan many of us own coops

January 11, 2008 at 6:08 pm (contractors, doormen, Manhattan, many reasons to sell an upper west side apartmen, Upper West Side)

My contractor and I “communicate” through text messaging. Hate texting on a baby LG–though it’s the best cell I have ever found. He didn’t think to call me to tell me that he’s resting until Monday. Kids–what’s the matter with kids today? My favorite line from a play you all must have seen if you’ve been to elementary school plays in the past 30 years.

If you’re reading this blog for the first time begin with this post then skip to the third post which is also a page. I’m sorry if I act insulted when people think I’m a renter but renters can leave, not that most want to–if they’re stabilized or rent controlled their rent goes up a set amount–they know well in advance. We are told what our increase will be a month before it happens and can be assessed anything. Last year we were told about a 40% increase a month before it happened. That was the final insult. An assessment is a set amount of money for a set amount of years on top of the maintenance.

Lewis Mumford is considered to be the “father” of American coops. He built Sunnyside Gardens in Sunnyside Queens, just across the bridge from Manhattan It was considered to be a utopian community. I won’t go into the history etc. If you’re interested look it up. I lived a block from it until I was four when we moved to a garden apartment coop community further out in Queens. It was a “true coop” People paid $250 to move in and got it back when they moved out–we did when I was twelve

A present day coop is very much for profit. In order to buy a coop you have to be approved by the coop board. First you have to fill out a huge package with much more than financial info–try ten references and basically your life story. It’s not fun and is the ultimate Manhattan “I am a real grown up” test. I practiced for months for my meeting with them. Was the fastest ten minutes of my life. Was the first of about seven people seen. I assume because I was all cash, and had a “perfect” board package. I did it myself. Most people have their accountants do it. My finances were about as complicated as they can get. But as I did it myself I could answer every question without looking. They basically told me I was approved at the meeting and found out for sure the next day.

However I practiced for two months before the board meeting. I went on vacation two weeks before the board meeting with the “don’t hate us because we’re beautiful, smart and soap stars” family. The husband had initially been rejected by his board as he’s an actor. Ten years ago he was president of his board. We practiced for months and on vacation he would shoot me questions everywhere. Some coop boards even interview dogs. They can ask any question except ones about race, religion, ethnic background and sexual preferences. They don’t have to tell you why you’re turned down.

I did wear three earrings in one ear and two in the other then but my hair covered them. I had my hair cut the day before to just below my neck and had it blown out. I had a manicure several hours before the meeting so it would be fresh.

I wore a black pant suit with caramel piping that exactly matched my hair and very pricey shoes. For luck I carried my father’s old but good briefcase and a nice but unobtrusive Louis Vuitton bag. I took no chances, and approached this as I would approach any job interview. A tad obsessively, over prepared, friendly but not too friendly, and said flattering things about the building. That could have been my Waterloo but I recovered quickly.

Never mention building specifics. You don’t know what they’re planning to change. They even might hate the new roof garden and be planning to change that though the building is advertised as having a new and great one. Mine never had one. The thing I mentioned is too building specific to go into. I realized later that the romantic story I told about the girl who owned the apartment and the contractor falling in love and getting married could have been a fatal mistake. The renovation might not have been board approved. They might have hated the girl, contractor or the renovation. Never tell stories.

I purposely bought an apartment I was considered to be “over qualified” for. It was smaller than I would have liked, but I wanted it to work for me, not me for the pleasure of living in it. Now I work for it.

People don’t own real property but shares in the building corporation. Shares are determined by a square foot/room/floor/view basis

It does hurt when people say I tell cute stories about renting as if I were a renter I would either have been out of this city a long time ago or have put the money I put into this into a summer home.

I wouldn’t be losing my mind over a rental, Manhattan is one of the few places in the country where the housing market is still strong and I would like to get this on the market before it becomes a weak one. I know people debate that. Many people believe Manhattan will always be strong because of the European market. My building doesn’t sell to non American citizens Other people believe that coops are self-policing and there are enough qualified people. I have no idea.

I know I live in what is supposed to be a “model” “big deal” building. I know that a two bedroom has been on the market for over two hundred days. True it was never renovated–the big renovation with the tearing down walls, reconfiguring things, and much more that has to be board approved. One of the reasons I have been renovating is because seeing that apartment hurts. the layout is quirky and it’s hard to picture how it would look renovated. I’m sure they still have fuse boxes. Owners change them when they renovate.

The woman who owned the apartment before me did the renovation and reconfigured the apartment. Mine is the only apartment on the line with two bathrooms and was the first apartment in the building to major in granite and marble. They did keep to the integrity of a pre-war (1929) building. I have ceiling beams, great molding and even better molding I installed in the large bathroom. I will go into more specifics in further posts as some of the “quirks” have been giving me agita.

My renovation doesn’t touch pipes nor anything the board would have to approve and I’m too tired to think of everything but it’s a lot.

Mine is a minor renovation that has taken ten weeks already, is making me crazy as I can’t find necessary stuff, and can no longer count on the love sick contractor. It’s been five days already….He says he will be here Monday morning.  We’re going to talk about professionalism.

I had things that I had to do this morning otherwise I would be very angry that once again I got up so early. Actually there was thunder and lightening which is strange for January and I was awake by five AM.

If he doesn’t show up I plan to medicate myself into oblivion as my stereo isn’t hooked up, my Ipod is somewhere in the storage cage and now the music on my Imac isn’t working. Yesterday the computer screen froze.

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The super was a pervert

January 10, 2008 at 2:35 pm (doormen, Manhattan) (, , , )

I almost made non cancellable reservations for 1/17. I’m beyond depressed for many reasons. I’m a nester, not a person who can live with things here, there, everywhere.
I allow myself to come last and am paying for it.

My desktop is frozen. My laptop doesn’t want to find networks–and I can’t write anymore

•••••••••••••••••••••••When I first moved into the building, the super was a charming, sophisticated friendly man. Yet there was something a bit off. Then I met his wife who looked like she could lead a girl gang–if the girls were all 50+ Something was really off. I told all my girl friends to be wary as he seemed to always be around.

He was fixing something in my apartment when he told me he divided the women in the building into three categories: renters who didn’t count; non-board approved owners (or people who bought their apartments when the building went coop or from the original owner known as “the sponsor”) and board approved owners.

I thought he was telling me that I was in the category of “fix things that go wrong immediately.” I didn’t understand why he didn’t separate men into categories. I wasn’t going to ask and assumed he was “old school.” Male chauvinists are truly a dying species here. I’m just old enough to remember when they ruled and don’t lament the passing of the torch.

I was right and also very wrong. I should explain that tenants are rent stabilized or rent controlled, are virtually guaranteed their apartment for life and share in improvements without paying for them. I would love to come back to life as a renter in this building now.

On New Years Eve, he tried throat kissing my friend, the soap star’s wife. She said it was beyond gross.

Several weeks after that I was leaving the building to meet that friend. Apparently I just missed a cat fight between a tenant and the super’s wife. The tenant stopped me on the street and asked if I witnessed the fight. I told her I was sorry that I hadn’t.

She told me that the super had gone into her apartment the night before and she caught him playing with her lingerie. It sounded crazy. I would have called the police. Apparently the fight was over that. She told me about her wounds from the fight and that she was going to sue. First she was going for a massage.

I slipped into professional, I work with abused women, mode and told her to go to the police station first to file a report and have them look at her bruises. She refused as she wanted a massage. “If you don’t go now, the police won’t be able to tell what bruises the wife inflicted and what the massagist might have done.”

I found this strange but stored it in the mental list of NY stories. Soon I was hearing more and more stories of the super going into women’s apartments while they slept. Sometimes they would catch him in the act. Other times they would only know when they woke up and found things in disarray or gone. Again I wondered why the women who caught him hadn’t called the police.

Each year we have annual board meeting of owners. Tenants aren’t allowed.

The board meeting that spring was filled with non board approved women owners. They all had the same story. This will sound horrible of me, but they were all mousy and plain as a board approved woman owner pointed out to me. I realized the day the super had told me about the “three classes of residents” he was really talking about who he would stalk or not.

I ‘m not sure why none called the police or had gone to the Board of Directors immediately. I agonize over everything but when the next super would come into my apartment without notice on a non emergency basis had no problems complaining. He never took jewelry or anything of value.

Woman after woman told the same story. Still they didn’t fire the super until they had to settle the lawsuit the woman who had the fight with the wife brought. She wanted me to be a witness but she had never shown me her injuries just told me about them and I refused. Not out of loyalty to the building but because I couldn’t testify to what I hadn’t seen first hand.

I think she’s basically getting free rent for the rest of her life . It’s a shame because of all the women she’s the bitchiest, biggest complainer, and person you never want to be stuck in an elevator with.

For years I tried to get the handyman and/or super to fix certain things that I thought the building was responsible for. Also I could never understand why in such a great renovation the kitchen cabinets were virtually useless, but very pretty. I recently found out that the old super had installed all these things, and the handyman and super were scared to touch them. I have fixed everything. The old super couldn’t do anything right.

A super in my building begins at 80K a year, has a free apartment–his is a two bedroom worth between 990K and 1.40Mil–free gas & electricity, free cable and welcomes all tips. Like most Manhattanites my true dream in life is to be a super. Obviously one that’s not hands on and most supers in big buildings aren’t. They do go to super school and become licensed in many subjects.

What happens in the building, stays in the building. An unwritten law. And not I think a good one.

It took a year to find a new super. Our Board found one with zilch personality, and no people skills but he’s good with floods. I would come home from work and find signs that he had been in my apartment. I would complain and be ignored.

The next post will go into what happened next.

I’m also planning to answer questions one day a week. A good one was asked yesterday that I can devote a post too.

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Intro to the secret life…..

January 9, 2008 at 5:25 pm (contractors, doormen, Manhattan, Upper West Side) (, , , )

I live in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in a two doorman building. That’s two doormen at peak hours, and one doorman during the rest of the time. I used to think this was a fairly normal way to live. I’m moving. So of course I decided to use a 23 year old doorman as my contractor. I did this partially because he was willing to do much work for less money, partially because like everybody in the building–and we’re not united on anything else, I find him charming, sweet, willing and wanting to learn. He’s a hard worker. I know he can do much and is going to super school. The perks of being a super, in a union building, will be explored in another post

I take after my father and am one of the least handy people in the world. My father never understood why a private home didn’t come with a super. We both thought of changing a light bulb as major home repair work.

I thought that I bought an apartment in perfect condition. I was so wrong. Slowly I found out how wrong.

My apartment was basically in good condition–except for the things that needed to be brought up to code. The living room was three shades of pink and lavender and that seemed a bit excessive even to me. The bedroom was tied dyed blue. Tied dyed from the many pipe floods. I’m kind of an expert on pipe floods. Anything you want to know about pipes, steam risers and the like just ask.

Anything that you want to know about doormen, please don’t hesitate. Doormen are integral to the lives of many Manhattanite. They accept our deliveries, always have a kind word to say–except for the evening doorman who actually asked why I didn’t give him a larger tip. I’m known for giving very large tips not just for a girl but for anybody. More about that in another post. More about the other doorman. And the former super who was a bona fide pervert.The condition of somethings in my apartment have much to do with him.

This blog will attempt to take the mystery out of doormen and contractors. This blog is my attempt to keep from having a complete nervous breakdown.

Everything was going smoothly. Or as smoothly as can be for a simple renovation that turned into every door knob being taken off every door, perfectly good recessed lighting being screwed with and more that I will go into at a later time. I do have locks on the front door. Including one new and very fancy one that I have a hard time using. The door now has to be stripped, repainted etc. The areas around all the door knobs have to be repainted. Did I say the old ones were a beautiful crystal that kept the integrity of the apartment’s deco lines? They were lose and hey probably needed some big repair that I’m not aware of.

My apartment does have skim coated walls and is in much better condition than most. I’m usually a hard person to persuade to do things like this. He became carried away. As it wasn’t going to cost me much extra I went along though I had reservations. Now I can’t afford to make reservations….

We had a good crew. My doorman hired his wife’s cousin, an Israeli with dreadlocks. His passion is making huge bars for parties where he then becomes the bar tender and DJ. This might be an Israeli thing. He’s also an expert carpenter and can do great blueprints.

My doorman/contractor is a former party promoter. He’s the son of a semi famous artist who I’m arranging an exhibit for in one of my other lives.

Ok. Now that I have this slightly laid out, let me go into what happened on New Years Eve. My D/C’s wife ran off with her cousin who might not actually be a relative though my D/C was paying him much as they were all supposed to find a better apartment to live in together.

This is the third morning this week he hasn’t shown up, but only the first when I had to call to see why. Monday I was actually giving him coffee and cigarettes as I advised him not to speak to the other doormen, and how potentially to get her back. That involved not phoning or texting her constantly and some other things.

Today is the first day I have faced reality and realized that he has too much of money and my faith. I can tell many of the other doormen want to speak to me. I’m considered to be the friendliest resident in the building. This isn’t always a good thing. I’m hiding in my apartment and when I have to go out am thinking of wearing a disguise. However doormen know everything. I know as I read too many mysteries, watch too much TV, and have been the recipient of too many of their secrets.

There aren’t going to be secrets anymore. Stay tuned….The post below this was actually written after this one but I played with the timestamp

I’m really looking forward to writing My Former Super The Pervert post. Gives me a better feeling about this whole thing. If this is disjointed and reads a bit weirdly, I went to sleep angry and woke up at 6 AM so I could be ready even angrier. At 9:30 AM when I called….My stuff is scattered all over town or in the storage cage.

Dusting does no good. I should be used to living in chaos as it’s the tenth week. I’m not. I make and break appointments at their convenience. I’m supposed to be the boss but feel like the worker who pays for the privilege. I truly like my D/C. I shouldn’t have given him so much responsibility and the wife running off, that’s tragic. Still he’s young and it’s my dime–many dimes. I just want out of here and yesterday contemplated walking away from the whole selling process. I guess that’s better than contemplating suicide but maybe it bears some resemblance.

I will go through the selling process in this blog.

I began a blogroll. It’s not complete.

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