Archive for May, 2007|Monthly archive page

Super, ladder, boyfriend, husband or bar stool?

I got back earlier this week from a short trip home. Obviously, I haven’t been sleeping too well. Last night, the jet lag was aided and abetted by the smoke alarm. It is apparently running low on battery. It was beeping its sad beeps when I got home from work. Over 24 hours later, it continues to beep. Only, I no longer think of it in such sympathetic terms. It’s a tale of so many twists and turns, not to mention frustration that it could almost qualify for an episode or two of a Tamil day time soap. I’ll try to keep it simple:

This smoke alarm (henceforth referred to as ‘Spawn of Satan’ or ‘Evil device’) is fixed to the ceiling of my apartment. Personally, I possess neither the height nor the mechanical equipment necessary to reach said Evil device. Naturally, I called the Building Super (henceforth also referred to as Satan’s Lieutenant or Blot Upon Apartment-dwelling Humanity). He expressed regret and conveyed the impossibility of visiting my apartment before the next morning (closer to noon, really). Since I cannot afford to take a day off simply to cater to the whims of assorted Spawns of Satan, I asked him if there’s any way I could leave my apartment key with him. This Blot Upon whatnot suggested that I leave the key near the mail box, assuring me that this is a super secret spot only he knows about, and is hence perfectly safe.

Around noon today, he calls me to tell me that there’s no key at the agreed upon spot. No, what he says is that there is a key, but this key does not belong to my apartment. His theory is that someone has taken my key (key to apartment 3B) and replaced it with that to apartment 3D. This baffles me. If an undesirable element of the city has stolen my key, surely, one does not expect him or her to play bartering games. Satan’s Lieutenant helpfully explains why in his view this barter is entirely possible, indeed probable – apparently the woman in Apartment 3D is quite used to leaving her key near the mail box for friends to pick it up. His theory is either that my neighbor left her key, and picked up mine (which again makes no sense). Or that her friend took my key and in a mood of Christian giving, left the key to 3D in this spot, which to me is beginning to look less and less like a super secret spot known only to government agents and building supervisors and more and more like the forest of Arden, where all and sundry assemble to exchange keys, and goodness knows what else. Mr. Super Spy No More calls me again to let me know that he has called the occupant of 3D and left her a voice mail, but if I do run into her when I get home, I should ask her about my key.

To cut a long story short, after an afternoon of nail biting frustration and abnormal blood pressure, I manage to get spare keys from my leasing agent, only to come home and find out that my key has mysteriously materialized back at the agreed upon spot. Satan’s Spawn continues to beep. The only difference is that it does so from my bathroom now. The Super was guilty enough about the affair that he left me his ladder, which I used to successfully take the device down from its lofty perch. But the battery change turned out to be more complex than I expected – there are wires involved. Hardware stores in the neighborhood are already closed for the night, and I’ll be spending one more night with His Evil Beepingness.

Friends and acquaintances who know the story have offered a few suggestions:

a) Make nice with the Supervisor, give him Christmas gifts and so on, so that he is more receptive to treating such situations as the emergencies they actually are. Problem is after today, I don’t want to make nice with this man.

b) Acquire a ladder. Not a bad option. Most independent of the lot – but where do I find the space for a ladder in a New York studio? For something I will need once a year, if that, it just feels like too much trouble

c) Acquire a tall boy-friend – the theory being that a boy-friend will find it more difficult to refuse to come help out, as opposed to a tall mere-friend. Fair enough, but this solution has the same problem as the ladder – barring these once a year emergencies, what do I do with him for the rest of the time?

d) Acquire a tall husband, the theory being that this is a more ‘permanent’ solution than a boyfriend. But problems listed under c and d apply here as well. In addition to those, the acquisition of a husband apparently also involves at least one if not or more of the following: quitting my job, moving out of my Studio, moving out of New York – which makes the whole changing batteries part moot, really, so this isn’t really a solution. (OK, so quitting my job has nothing to do with batteries, but it’s a big deal to me, so deal with it.)

Given the grief these so called solutions come with, I’m giving serious thought to a fifth alternative – bar stools. Taller than regular chairs, useful round the year and in more ways than one.