Saturday night I got a call from Segundo the super. He asked me if I wanted to work Sunday. It was a slim past two weeks work-wise, so I said yes. At least it was Sunday and he would be off, so I most likely wouldn’t be subjected to his musings about his sex life.
I knew it was going to snow, I figured maybe the guy that called out sick didn’t want to shovel snow or something, but hey, money is money.
When I got to the building with minutes to spare he did not answer his phone. I have to call him to get the keys on the weekends for two reasons:
One, not being a permanent employee I don’t have the keys, and two, on weekends there is no one else there to open the door for me. He did not answer, and a tenant I knew exiting the building let me in.
The first thing I noticed was that the elevator that goes to the basement was out. Bad new for me, I use that one to bring the garbage up or down. There was a little sign from the management company about an elevator re-build. Fourteen weeks starting February 17, so only three more months to go.
I got tired of hearing Segundo’s message, so I rang his buzzer, woke his ass up.
I took the working elevator up to his apartment, where sleepy-eyed and in his drawers, he informed me he’d forgotten I was coming. I got the keys and went to work.
There wasn’t a lot to do in the morning with the elevator out, so I got a dustpan and broom and went on dead roach patrol. The building has a very large storage room and bike room in the basement, and plenty of dead water bugs. The first time I’d met Segundo last spring he’d made a big deal about them.
“The tenants don’t like to see the dead bugs, even though they are dead. It’s our job to prevent them from getting upset at the sight of a dead water bug. Make sure you sweep them all up.”
There are worse things to do than sweeping up water bugs, so I got my dustpan and broom and headed to the storage room.
The first thing I noticed was the addition of some new “cages,” open storage cages with locks on them in addition to the grey steel locker bins already there. Lots more stuff, but a remarkable scarcity of dead water bugs. Not even one live one scurrying around.
When I worked at 144 and had to show apartments to people, one of the first questions a prospective tenant asks is “Is there any storage space?” Followed by, “Is there a bike room?” The answer was always no, and no. No storage, no bike room.
There was a time when I was jealous of people who had storage space. Who doesn’t want room for more stuff? Of course, that was a time when I measured success or happiness with how much “stuff” I had. And man, did I have some stuff.
When I got divorced some 15 years ago my then wife was so eager to get me out of the apartment she told me I could leave my stuff there for a while until I got settled in. My stuff consisted of over 500 un-built model airplanes and about 30 or so completed ones in boxes. Within two weeks after I’d moved out she was on the phone harping about when I was going to get my stuff out.
I’d moved in with my dad, who didn’t have a lot of stuff but his wife who’d gotten Alzheimer’s disease and had gone back to Brazil (permanently) did have a lot of stuff, and it was all still there. It took me two weeks and around 30 large black garbage bags to dispose of all her stuff, mostly clothing and cloth remnants she’d collected. Then I was able to bring over my model airplanes.
They didn’t all fit; I had to rent a locker at Manhattan mini-storage. One of the women I dated when I started dating again looked at all of the boxes and asked what was in them.
“Model airplanes,” I’d said.
“You gotta get rid of them,” she said.
A couple of relationships and a smaller apartment later I had gotten rid of most, and it wasn’t till Danusia and I moved into our present apartment that I let go of more. I’m down to maybe 30 kits.
Danusia read some book about downsizing when we moved in, and we went through our stuff, CDs we no longer listen to, books we’ve read and will never read again, books we’ve never read and never will, clothing we haven’t worn in over a year, ditto shoes. There’s a lot more room in our apartment now.
It wasn’t too hard letting go of stuff, there was a time when I was 25 that I was homeless for a while, and all I had were the clothes on my back. When I joined the Army all the other recruits had luggage.
I had a paper bag I’d gotten at Fort Hamilton with a tee shirt, a pair of Levi’s, a windbreaker that said “Albany Skydiving Center” on the back and a pair of Chuck Taylors with holes in them. I threw the bag in the garbage just to see the look on the Drill Sargent’s face.
That Army experience came back to me yesterday when I was doing the recycling. I go from compactor room to compactor room (one on each floor, 12 of them) and empty out the recycle receptacles. (Say that three times fast)
When I got to the fourth floor I found of all things an ammo box for machine gun bullets. Empty, of course, but I’d always wanted one. Now, after all of these years I had one!
Even in the Army I liked collecting things, I had two belts of machine gun ammo that I was going to wear across my chest some Halloween, I had two smoke grenades, one red and one green; a dye pack I’d stolen from the inside of a Marine Corps Amphtrac during a joint training exercise, and a British army pistol belt I found in Germany. One day a guy came running into the barracks to warn us of a “surprise” inspection for contraband.
We all took our live ammo and smoke grenades, some of the guys even had tear gas grenades, and we hid our stuff in the woods.
The inspector never materialized, but when we went into the woods to retrieve our stuff it was all gone, every last bullet.
I took my new ammo box downstairs, and was wondering how to get it home. It’s a steel box, and not light. It was snowing pretty hard outside, I’d already done some salting and shoveling, and I pondered the wisdom of carting this thing home and having to get rid of it once Danusia saw it.
I put it up on the little box each room has to put used batteries and CFLs, and I took a picture. That doesn’t take up much space, just a few megabytes. And those are not heavy at all.