Spring has come to New York. People run up the subway stairs, hurrying to get into the sun.
I ran into my landlord for the second time since having an argument with him a month ago. The first time I saw him post-argument we said hello to each other but didn't really talk much. The argument was about the fact that he lets himself in to my apartment when I'm not there, which according to NYC tenant's rights, is a big no-no. Invasion of privacy and all that. My landlord only does it when he wants to fix something in the apartment or to let the exterminator in to spray for bugs. I realize I should be happy my landlord pays an exterminator to spray every other month, and his own unannounced visits are rare and a small price to pay for an inexpensive apartment in a good neighborhood.
But my landlord is not a young man and sometimes forgets the code for the front door alarm to my apartment. He also once forgot where he put my rent check, so I had to write him another one. A few days later he found the original check: it was under his pillow. "Why did you put my check under your pillow?" "I don't know - I don't know how it got there!"
The argument wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been one of those nights when I was in a hurry. I wanted to drop my stuff off at the apartment after work, change and head back into Manhattan to meet friends for drinks. I was going to be a little late but it was worth it to change from my office-drag into jeans. As soon as I opened the front door of my building, I could hear my alarm going off. I got to my door and saw a piece of paper on the floor from my landlord that said "John - call me!" Worst yet, the top lock on my door did not work.
I called my landlord and exclaimed that I could not get into my apartment. "Oh, I was gonna tell you about the alarm. I don't know what I did!" After a few minutes of mounting panic, I figured out that when he had left my apartment, my landlord had not locked the deadbolt. I had been trying to unlock what was already unlocked, which is why my key wouldn't turn properly. Got into the apartment only to see some strange hieroglyphics on my alarm system. I entered my code and nothing happened. Alarm kept tolling, strange hieroglyphics remained. I entered the code several more times, reasoning that it hadn't worked the first time cause I hadn't done it just so, to no avail.
Somewhere in this apartment is the user's manual that came with the alarm system, but it was nowhere I looked that night. I called my friend Kate, who lived here before me, on the off chance she would still remember how to reset the alarm of an apartment she hasn't live in for over five years. No answer. After pushing various buttons, I stumbled on how to reset the alarm and the resulting silence was, well, alarming.
I called my landlord back to explain how to reset it should this ever happen again and, because of my frustration, let slip "you know, you're not even supposed to be in my apartment when I'm not here without my permission," which is true, but just because something is true doesn't mean you should say it out loud. So a quick argument ensued, ending when I apologized, done because I had to be on my way. I wondered if I'd ever get my apartment sprayed for bugs again.
So when I saw my landlord tonight, I was relieved when we began chatting. I can only hope he forgot the argument. He showed me a cell phone he bought on ebay. It was an older model but still in great condition, and he was frustrated by the company's customer service department's inability to activate the phone. It wasn't too hard to see he was talking about more than phones when he said "Just cause it's old they want to get rid of it - not everything that's new is better," especially since he followed it up with the fact that the only take people's age into account when they are on a waiting list for internal organs, and never their moral character.