The Real.Est List
Dear Ms. Demeanor: Who's responsible when your kid makes a mess in the elevator?
Dear Ms. Demeanor,
I will not tell you if I am a breeder or non-breeder - I want an honest, frank opinion on this one. When a kid spills a juicebox or pukes or whatever in the elevator, who cleans?
Dear Ms. Vader (Sister or Wife of Darth?),
Typically people with children do not refer to themselves as 'breeders' so your attempted subterfuge was for naught.
As a proud 'breeder', I will tell you that I absolutely make every attempt to clean up after my children in indoor public spaces and, if possible and feasible, outdoor public spaces as well. (I was not able to vacuum the trail of dried corn that my older daughter left on Lexington in 2009 but I still feel bad about it.)
I do not often go so far as to bring cleaning supplies back from my apartment to the scene of a crime as it is amazing what can be done with baby wipes. If a spill is beyond what the wipes can handle and it is your own building, I think informing the doorman/super/porter and offering help is both appropriate and kind (even small children can assist with a handheld vacuum).
If you are visiting a building where an accident occurs, ask the doorman/super/porter for the supplies. More often than not, they will refuse your help but it sets a good example to one's offspring that you do not automatically assume that someone else will take of it. A small token of your appreciation (yes, I mean a tip) may also be warranted, particularly if the mess involves bodily fluids.
I have said this before and I will say this again: Even if you choose not to have children, you were one yourself once, so be tolerant. Accidents can and do happen. A kind, understanding smile goes a long way for a parent cleaning an elevator with a baby wipe.
Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to email@example.com and put "Dear Ms. Demeanor" in the subject line.