I thought I was done with our Brooklyn apartment, we moved out and I left it empty and “broom-swept clean” as they like to put in a standard lease. Then I got a hysterical phone call from my ex-landlord, he was getting “violations” because I’d left a king-sized mattress and two box springs in front of the building. I did not remind him that I’d mentioned that when I was vacating when he insisted I “get everything out and put it in front of the building.”
The mattress and attendant box springs were not wrapped in plastic, as the current NYC law requires. This law is a result of the bedbug hysteria of a couple of years ago. The poor sanitation workers refused to handle uncovered mattresses for fear of contracting bedbugs. If you are a sanitation worker and you are afraid of bedbugs, you are a pussy.
Of course the city saw it as a new source of revenue, something else to slap a fine on.
So when I spoke to the landlord, he asked what I was going to do about it.
“I can call someone to pick it up, pay whatever, $100 I guess, and eat it.” He said.
If I owned a building and was getting $100 a day violations, I would have called someone to haul it away right away, or get one of my employees, like the building “super” who cleaned the stairwell probably once a year in the 8 years we were there to wrap it up in plastic. This guy’s a millionaire and he’s bitching about $300 worth of tickets. I’ve had to eat around $5,000 so far in this sudden move and I’m not a millionaire. I know he’s one; if you own a few buildings in Brooklyn you’re a millionaire.
Rather than listen to anymore whining and to get my security deposit back, the next day I got up early, went to buy a couple of those “one size fits all” plastic mattress covers (another new industry) and got on the M train hopefully for the last time.
When I got to Broadway the mattress was still there, lying in the middle of the street. But there was only one box spring, and I don’t know if the garbage men took it, or some enterprising homeless person. My money’s on the homeless person.
I found out one size doesn’t fit all, and with the tape I bought along and a borrowed knife from S&Y organics (my friends from the store on the first floor) I was able to cut up the covers and cobble together the right sized pieces of plastic. I let the landlord know, but I had to pester him a bit before I got a response as to when I could pick up the check.
When I was working as a handyman on 86th street a few years ago we would have tenants periodically tell us they thought they had bedbugs. Out of the ten or so who suspected it, only one tenant actually had an infestation, and it came from her upstairs neighbor who hadn’t reported anything. When I went up there with the super to check I put on one of these white HAZMAT outfits with booties and gloves. Not really because I was afraid of the bedbugs, more of a goof, as this woman’s apartment was particularly filthy. I was more afraid of getting catshit on me.
The whole episode brought home the realization that we are a nation of pussies, afraid of our own shadows and things we have no control over or that don’t even remotely affect the average American.
Take the Ebola scare. I turn on the TV to listen to some hysterical announcer breathlessly talking about the latest confirmed Ebola case in the country, like tomorrow we’re all going to be infected. It reminded me of the hysteria in the ‘80s about AIDS, when cops started wearing rubber gloves to touch drug suspects and homosexuals. As far as I know, we didn’t all die from AIDS.
As of now, 4,550 deaths have been attributed to Ebola. In a world with a population of 7.126 BILLION people your chances of contracting Ebola while sitting in your comfortable living room chair are astronomical. But it doesn’t stop assholes with nothing better to do to hysterically demand “stopping the flights” (take that, Mr. Baynor) or treating people from West Africa as pariahs.
In the 1918-1919 world flu pandemic 25 million people died, and that was 3-6% of the world’s population at the time. The rest of the world went on and forgot about it.
After the 9/11 attacks there was the anthrax scare. I was working as a doorman at the time, and part of my duties was to sort the mail and deliver it. There were a few residents who would not touch their mail because they feared being poisoned by anthrax. They should be so lucky to leave the world they are so afraid of.
Then there was SARS in 2007. That time it was Chinese people and chickens.
I’m so glad I don’t buy into any of this shit, and I’d like to personally go around to slap any of these fear-mongering jerks with their little signs in the face and say, “you should be so lucky.”
Life will go on, but let’s not forget Charles Darwin; the world has a way of regulating its population and there isn’t a hell of a lot we can do about it.
Now if we can only find a way of selectively giving Ebola to the rats and roaches in the city. But wait, rats and roaches are smarter than us, they know they will survive as a species and they don’t carry signs about the end of the world or make hysterical TV announcements. Maybe we should learn from them.