The backside of our air conditioner is tattered and torn. The side that’s exposed on the outside of the window; it’s become a mess of twisted aluminum. Some people hone their graffiti skills on the backsides of air conditioners located closer to ground level. The soft metal bent and kneaded to spell out words like ‘cock’ and ‘ass.’ But ours, a good eight-feet above ground level, fell victim to lazy but resourceful upstairs neighbors. Upon moving out, the neighbors in question decided that the stairs were too tedious. One trip to the hardware store later, rope now being affixed to any items that would fit out the window, our neighbors lowered everything they owned down to the street level, bumping the various window sills and air conditioners in their path. Ours included.
The bedroom ceiling is collapsing. One day, a few months ago, I noticed a leak. A leak that wouldn’t stop, wishing to trade in subtle for more intense as a description. The pots went out. First one, then two, followed by a bucket. One call to the landlord later followed by two nights of leaking and emptying, the upstairs owner decided that enough was enough. He sent his mother to fix the leak. She did something upstairs and the leak stopped. And on her way out of the building, she knocked on the door. “They forgot to turn the thing on the thing,” she said, leaving me puzzled. I closed the door and returned to the bedroom. With a long broom handle, I reached out and pressed on the soft to the touch, water-soaked ceiling.
No one ever has keys. To get into the building requires but one key divided between two doors. At night, the outside door is locked from the inside. Without that key, a person cannot even enter the building to buzz someone’s apartment. During the winter, two men started screaming at me to open the outside door. One in a beret with a goatee. I refused and walked away and never saw them in the building again. I don’t think they lived here and I don’t think they wanted my key to the laundry room, which no one ever has either. Except us. And according to our lease, we’re not allowed to loan it out. Instead, people stick magazines in the laundry room door, keeping it from ever being locked. Ignoring the wall-mounted bi-lingual sign to lock the door on the way out.
The buzzer for C-1 also buzzes us in A-5. Always in the morning, always by someone looking for an apartment to rent. It used to bother me. But now I have fun with it. With each time the buzzer for C-1 rings, I speak into the intercom with my best little kid voice. “Mom, is that you?” I say. And wait to listen for the Spanish response from the would-be renter in the building’s hallways. Most of the time, they give up and walk away. It’s for the best. We honestly don’t need any new people hoisting furniture up through windows, causing bedroom ceiling leaks or harassing us for keys or entry into the building anymore.
We’re moving. Just not soon enough.