Hell's Bitchen

Hell's Bitchen: Meet my super, Aquavelva

By Kelly Kreth  |
April 26, 2012 - 9:55AM

I am waging a silent war with my super. It involves rocks.

My super is all of five feet with glassy eyes that get glassier once 5 p.m. comes and so does the rum. I always know when it is prime drinking time because the smell of Aqua Velva mixed with cheap booze permeates my hallway. Maybe he thinks with the right amount of cologne and booze he’ll get lucky.

He fashions himself the unofficial doorman of the building because he does little but stand in the foyer or outside the door talking to passersby.

His “apartment” —I used quotation marks because it is more of boiler room than apartment—is at the entrance, and a crucifix and other religious paraphernalia hang on the door.

Having peeked inside the tiny space a few times, I know that it has cement floors, other people’s tossed furniture and piles of what looks like garbage. I assume he gets paid or gets this unit in exchange for cleaning the building and dealing with the garbage, neither of which he really does.

The one plus is he is hard of hearing and always comments how good my dog is because he never barks. As I've written here before, anyone who is familiar with Miniknows he is the loudest and most frequent barker there is, and I love the idea that my super would disagree with any of my neighbors if they complained about him.

I have never lived in a building without a garbage area—set up pails where tenants can toss plastics, paper and general refuse—until here. When I asked where I could toss my garbage, a tenant said you must hand it to the super—meaning knock on his door. 

That seemed odd and she said most people leave it on his doorstep and run. I alternate between doing that and just tossing it into the public garbage on the corner. I noticed once when up on the fifth floor that tenants stack their garbage in the corner of the hallway. I made a mental note never to go up there again. Also, ewwww….

When I moved here I had 140 flattened, neatly taped boxes brought down to him. He came marching up the stairs demanding I keep them in my apartment until the following week when it was garbage night.

I told him that wouldn’t be happening considering I had just moved and couldn’t even fit my actual belongings in the small unit let alone 140 boxes. So I convinced him to unlock the basement—you know, where the garbage is supposed to go—and let me stack them there. He asked me for $20.

The basement is clean and huge, spanning the whole building. This is exactly where tenants should have recycle bins set up and be allowed to leave their garbage.

Our building is the only one I have ever come across in NYC that does not recycle. It is interesting to note the whole basement is painted with an under-the-sea mural.

I really wish I could turn that spot into an underground nightclub/speakeasy because the vibe is amazing, mid-80s S&M style lair. As in, there are mermaids painted on the wall that seem to be wearing bondage gear. And mirrors, tons of mirrors. 'Nuff said. I’d love to sneak down there again and get pictures to post, but I fear I might never return.

I have found my boxes and other garbage tossed in the middle of the street, several blocks down and not on garbage night, so apparently instead of adhering to recycling rules, he just sneaks a few blocks down and litters.

But I digress. The real battle has nothing to do with garbage, but rather with front door security. We have two front doors, both of which open with the same key.

The first opens into the foyer by the mailboxes and the second into the actual building. The second is always propped open with a rock, which irks the shit out of me because if someone were to follow one into the building instead of an added layer of protection from the second door being locked, an intruder could easily just push right in.

But the bigger problem is every night from 5-8 p.m., when the super props the actual front door open too with a rock. Basically any miscreant in the neighborhood has carte blanche to enter.

I don’t understand the need for keeping both doors unlocked. The super is not a doorman, so it is not as if anyone expects him to be standing there to open doors for people coming home after work.

When I first moved here I took the rock out right in front of him and said I want this kept locked and he said, “No, I leave it open. I can hear anyone entering from my apartment.”

Um, what the fuck does that mean? So what if he can hear people entering when he has no idea who should be permitted to and who should be prohibited?

I ignored it and just hoped for the best, but a few weeks ago when someone I didn’t want entering my building without ringing my bell first and left something outside my door, it became apparent this was going to be a real issue.

I do not want people allowed right to my apartment door without being buzzed in.

So I have taken it upon myself to remove the front door rock when I enter or exit from 5-8 pm, and the second door rock anytime after 8pm. I had hoped he’d either get the hint or run out of rocks. I have now collected ten rocks and realize he is doing neither.

Just last night I came home at midnight and removed the second door rock and as the door swung shut I noticed three other rocks lined up behind it -- reserves, like nuts a demented squirrel had stored for winter.

My rock pile grows bigger, the security issues remain, and Aquavelva continues to waft through the building nightly.

Kelly Kreth, recently returned to Hell’s Kitchen, chronicles her misadventures in her tenement-style walk-up in this bi-weekly BrickUnderground column, Hell’s Bitchen

See all Hell's Bitchen. 

Also by Kelly Kreth:

Hell's Bitchen: I vow never to move again

15 things I've learned from 'Million Dollar Listing NY' so far

The 20 deadly sins NYC rental agents should never commit (but do)

Escape from the UES: Goodbye douchebaggery, hello Hell's Kitchen

Dear Neighbor: I am your worst nightmare

Living next to a bridge & tunnel club: KY Jelly wrestling, all-night noise, no regrets



Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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