If you have been reading my column for the last year and a half, you have read about my super. Over the course of my residency here I have (silently) battled with him for propping open our building’s doors with rocks so any neighborhood miscreant could, and did, enter the building unannounced, and for being the cause of my building being the only one I’ve come across in NYC that does not recycle.
About 10 days ago on the day I was in an uproar over finding out that an upper floor in my building had bed bugs (!) and subsequently hatching my plan of escape, my super had a heart attack. I saw an ambulance, police car and neighborhoodies milling about. When I spoke to the landlord she mentioned the super was in the hospital.
The next day when I walked to throw the garbage into the can that sits outside his apartment, his door was open and I saw on his stone floor the old rug that I had thrown out a few weeks ago. On it, an old chair of mine I tossed when I moved in…
Later, at night, I noticed a vase of flowers sitting in the middle of our hallway. The morning after, outside the building, appeared another vase with a candle inscribed with Spanish writing.
This was how I surmised that my super had died.
How touching that he affected so many people in the neighborhood that’d they paid tribute to him in this way. I wonder if my own passing would get as much notice….
The following day when I returned from a juice run I found a notice on our front door alerting us of his death.
(Later a candle would be kept burning on the floor inside the building as a sort of memorial to him, and while I certainly didn’t want to be disrespectful, leaving a burning candle unattended next to piles of garbage that had collected because there was not yet a new super to toss them seemed foolhardy, so I kept blowing it out.)
Since my super made his untimely departure, the building has been relatively quiet and peaceful; it has a different energy—not any better or worse…just different. The front doors are finally shut.
As for me, his passing prompted a variety of thoughts and feelings.
While he was alive, I had wished he was not the super because he caused me a headache living here--door propping, soda stealing, being on the street every morning at 6 speaking Spanish loudly to whomever would pass by, being drunk and glassy-eyed nightly in the vestibule. Bobby was not a good super and the fact that he lived in that little stone-floored space next to the garbage under the stairs made me sad.
Basically, I had wanted him gone but not dead, and I had few feelings about his death at all aside from shock. I do not somehow remember him better or nicer than he was.
I do not feel guilty about this. But I do hope he rests in peace and is somewhere way better than having to toss garbage out from our Tenth Avenue paradise.
Down here in Hell('s Kitchen), it sucks now that if I forget my keys there is no one who is sure to be there. Post-death the garbage has piled all the way up and stunk up the whole building because there is no one yet dedicated to tending to it.
On the bright side, I think I may have found a new apartment to rent. While one door has closed (because it is no longer propped up with a rock), another has opened....
RIP, Bobby, RIP.
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.
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