My Monday began with ten (okay, 20) minutes worth of failed attempts to light my stove. I thought the stove and I had an understanding: if the front range doesn’t want to light the back range will, then the front one, having seen the ease at which the back lit, will give in after about five minutes. This system’s been frustrating at best, but I’ve mustered up patience trusting the super would address my list today. The problem this morning was that I’d already stirred up eggs in a bowl summoning the courage to finally conquer scrambling. Without the stove I just had liquid eggs, and this hardworking waitress wouldn’t waste two quality organic eggs. I’d even made Grands biscuits in hopes of an egg and cheese sandwich (baby steps), and now the biscuits were unappetizingly cold.
I needed this bit of defeat to stand my ground with the super. I called him determined to insist my list be addressed, but he nonchalantly said he’d come by “tomorrow” and hung up. How do pushovers live with themselves? The lack of an ordained time or proposed solution were wearisome signs that he was not taking little 5A seriously. Flustered, I got ready for work and took Nugget for a walk before leaving him caged for five hours, when the inevitable occurred. I knew it the moment the door slammed: I locked myself out.
In yet another case of Sloane Crosley warning me, I knew it was bound to happen, but not today. Forgetting my keys alone had the potential of a future laughing matter, but in the rarest of perfect storms I left my phone too. There’s no question I adore my iPhone; it’s the one thing I spent money on after a summer of two jobs and weekend doubles, but in ten seconds of reality I gained a new appreciation for both commodities. In a humbling panic I knocked on my neighbors’ doors knowing everyone else works during the day. I got a response at 5F where a man asked who I was and what I wanted. I explained that I was his new neighbor and just needed to call the super, and he responded by telling me the number was posted in the lobby. I repeated that I didn’t have a phone, and he said, “Sorry, I can’t help you.” …so you don’t have a phone or you’re a [fill-in-the-blank]? I thought.
Embittered, I moved on to the only two apartments where the tenants had seen me and one graciously let me use her home phone. (Note: she has a home phone?) As I dialed the super’s number I dreaded my only optional greeting: “Hi, it’s Ashley from 5A again.” Followed by, “I’m going to completely inconvenience you and disrupt your day to have you come let me in my own apartment because I’ve been too cheap to make a copy of my keys for the friends I don’t have.” Super was in the Bronx and would take an hour to come to the rescue so I walked Nugget for a half hour and waited on my steps for him. My circumstances alloted enough time to quantify all that had been going wrong, then I realized this opened an opportunity with potential for good–better than I could’ve planned actually. Super was now forced to visit 5A and might as well hit a few faulty birds with one stone by going down the dreaded list. He thought so too.
Super admitted on the uncomfortable elevator ride that he should at least check out the stove while he was here. With an hour in the cold nudging my hesitancy I awkwardly petitioned about the roaches. “And the roaches? I mean two HUGE roaches. Is that normal?” He looked at me like I was an idiot. “I’ll have an exterminator come out,” he reassured. (But again, no set time…) When that ever-powerful spare key ended my agony I went straight for the phone–to call work, of course. I turned and saw super dissecting the stove pieces and knew that sucker was about to light on mere command with my luck. But as if to make up for breaking its end of the deal earlier, the stove met me halfway and miraculously remained idol. The super showed genuine surprise; he did think I was an idiot. “Ok, I guess I’ll order a new one,” he forced. Then came the magic words: “When are you home this week?”
Sure, I had to relinquish seven hard-earned dollars for a taxi to work and stomach the anxiety of being late and admittedly disheveled, but we in little 5A celebrate the little victories, and today there were several. I finally locked myself out, and now I can be as paranoid about where my keys are as I am about where roaches might be. Those are small prices to pay for what’s already been quite an expensive commitment: my big NYC adventure.