1/2/07 6 Men in black hoodies on the stairwell
And so begins a Word document I created—cleverly titled Apartment.doc—to keep a record of any and all problems I encountered with the fifth floor walkup apartment I lived in for seven years.
The cryptic note refers to the time I returned from a Christmas visit upstate with two jumbo suitcases. As was my habit, I dragged both suitcases into the foyer so I would have one door locked behind me. I left one suitcase on the entry level and hauled the other suitcase up the 97 steps to my apartment. Then, I would make a second trip with the other suitcase. This time, I was greeted at the top of the stairs by six men in black hoodies, who had seemingly entered through the unlocked roof door. They were just sitting and waiting for something, and they made no move when I appeared with my suitcase. Still delirious from the eight-hour train trip, I barely acknowledged them. But when I locked my first suitcase inside the apartment and stepped out into the hallway on the return trip for my second, I thought I should probably say something.
“Do you live in the building?” I foolishly asked six giant men who obviously didn’t live in the building.
“We live next door,” the spokesperson of the group said.
“Oh.” I paused. “Well, I really don’t think you should be here if you don’t live here,” I said. (Who on earth did I think I was?)
“We’re waiting for someone,” the spokeshoodie said. “We’ll be leaving when he gets here.”
“Oh,” I cleverly said again. “Okay.” And with that, I headed downstairs for my second suitcase.
By the time I got there, it finally sunk in that while these men may have been on the up-and-up, they might also be there for some sort of sinister purpose. And I knew without a doubt that I simply could not walk past them one more time. It was way too terrifying.
There I was, in my building foyer, sitting on a suitcase without a coat or a cell phone or a friend. So I did what any girl would do: I went into the Thai restaurant downstairs and used their phone to call 911.
I sat on my suitcase to wait for an officer to stop by, but instead of one officer, three police cars pulled up to the curb. I thought they couldn’t possibly be for me, but they were. You’d think there must be someone getting robbed or maimed somewhere else in the city, but I guess it was a slow crime day. They asked for brief details and headed upstairs. I must say that it was kind of exciting to see six officers run up the stairs on my behalf, but alas, they came up empty. The hoodies hopped onto a neighboring roof and raced downstairs through a different building.
And that, my friends, was the end of my adventure and the start of my documentation about apartment issues. In the five years that I kept that document, I had some pretty interesting entries. Here are a few completely undoctored entries that you might enjoy:
7/30/07 Asked Charles once again about the rent. He called DeMilt who called and screamed at me. Didn’t let me get a word in edgewise. Said he sent the notice 6 times, and we chose to ignore it. He said: “Who do you think you are, some hotshot Philadelphia lawyer?”
7/31/07 Went to sign lease in scary basement unlabeled office.
8/18/07 Got an eviction notice postcard.
11/13/07 Absolutely NO water at all at 2am. Too tired to call 311. Called in the morning, but they wouldn’t take the complaint since the water was restored. Called Frank, but he said that the plumber was fixing something and forgot to put up signs since it was so late at night.
3/2/08 FREEZING WATER yet AGAIN. Also, two leaks in the apartment. One in Jackie’s closet, one in the hall closet. Both are pretty bad. Left messages for Ron and Charles by 8:30 am.
4/4/08 Roof leaking yet again. Called Charles. He promised new roof would be put in next week. Seemed surprised that water was still cold. Said that the boiler was “on its way” even though Frank told me the boiler was sitting in the basement. Very confused.
5/1/11 water is often lukewarm for the last week. only had one hot shower.
5/2/12 NO WATER AT ALL. hasn’t been heat for days
In summary…I’M SO GLAD I MOVED!!!!