Rubbish Wars

[Garbage carts protected by police during a st...

[Garbage carts protected by police during a strike, New York City] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Life in an apartment building has its own rules mores entertainment.

If you’re unfamiliar, each floor has its own little garbage room (used to be the incinerator room until incinerators were banned), with a closed chute behind a door.  Some, like in my current building, have an actual little room, with shelves for recycle items, others just have a door concealing the chute.  Shove your garbage bag down the chute where it drops to the bottom, compacted into huge garbage bags that are then brought outside by building staff for the sanitation workers–who, by the way, work a physically demanding, thankless yet SO important job, spend their days being honked and cursed at by the same people who left their old entertainment unit on the street to be lifted, broken up, and taken away.  Like magic, except it isn’t.

In any case, back to the garbage room.  Sometimes they get a bit messy.  Or even dirty.  Something drops, an elderly person can’t muscle their bag into the minuscule chute, someone *gasp* puts a bottle on the shelf that’s supposed to be for paper recycle, the recycle piles up because the porters are busy outside with snow removal/salting the sidewalks so no one busts a hip…yanno, atrocities like that.  At this time of year in my building there’s a serious backdraft in the chute itself, so every time you open the little door  bits of detritus fly out and scratch your eyes.  Sometimes a few pieces of whatever from someone else’s floor/garbage even escape and flutter to the floor of your garbage room.  Can you imagine?  What is this world coming to?

Shock of the Hour

Shock of the Hour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s the thing about living in an apartment building, living in a densely populated city.  You have to be polite.  Accepting.  Tolerant.  Don’t let your kids run screaming up and down the halls, it’s just rude.  Don’t jump up and down and bang on the walls.  People live over you, under you, on either side.  Don’t behave as if the hallway is your front yard.  It isn’t.  No matter how considerate your neighbors may be, there are still things you have to suck up and deal with.  Some of your neighbors will be musicians, singers.  You’re going to hear them practicing.  This could be nice, could be a time when you aren’t feeling well and wish you could nap, could be absolutely awful yowling that makes you wish for the music of a cat in heat, it’s life.  Sometimes you’re going to smell cooking that makes you wonder what the fuck are they eating in there?  Sometimes you’re going to hear the screeching of a cat in heat, or a dog barking.  Other people’s children.  The competition of three tvs on different channels in different languages blaring because they’re all in the apartments of senior citizens with fading hearing who don’t like their hearing aids.  The stench of what has to be the worst skunk weed in the world.  The annoying yapping of someone saying a long, protracted goodbye to their guest, or catching up with another neighbor right outside your front door–Bonus points when that makes your dogs nervous and they start barking so said neighbor can now complain about your barking beasts.  All of these things are life in the big city.

But then, one neighbor, two neighbors, well, they forget it’s life in the city.  And start thinking they’re in the suburbs, president of the homeowners association, ready to take a ruler and measure everyone’s grass.  So they leave a note on the door of the garbage room, “Dear Neighbors, let’s keep this floor clean.  There was a piece of paper on the floor inside the garbage room this morning .  Clean up after yourself.”  Then someone else chimes in, adding to the original note, “I agree!”

Now the  porters have to stop and scrape tape carefully off the door from where the note was hung, so a round of complaints about scratched paint doesn’t begin.  This is a large building, there’s always something that needs to be done, fixed, or cleaned, and the guys that work here do a pretty good job.  Next day, a new note, handwriting getting shakier, you can feel the moral outrage building,  “There are LEAVES on the floor, clean up your garbage!” Hmmm, maybe someone’s kids aren’t coming to visit for Christmas.  Those leaves could be from something thrown out on this floor, or they could be from an entirely different floor, blown out of the chute when the door was opened.  Next day, there’s soil on the floor of the garbage room, and yet another note.  At this point, I’m guessing the soil was spilled purposely.  The whole thing is incredibly obnoxious.  Maybe soil thrower’s kids ARE coming home for Christmas, and now they have to entertain grandchildren.  Who knows?

Another day, another very small whatever on the floor of the garbage room.  Maybe something fell off the recycle shelf, since the building employees have been doing outside work to deal with the snow and ice.  Another note, red pen this time–I guess now the note leaver means business, less passive, more aggressive.  And they stapled the found trash to the top of the note.  Which means they picked it up and brought it into their home, found a stapler and a red pen to complete their self assigned mission.  Someone else jotted a message in response.

Raffle tickets, symbol of moral turpitude everywhere.

Raffle tickets, symbol of moral turpitude everywhere.

If I get involved, I’m going to get a rectangle of astroturf and put a white picket fence around it for the shared hallway side of my front door.  The dogs will likely pee on the turf, but hey I’d be beautifying our floor, right?



  1. Love it! This was an interesting window into what it’s like to live where you live, so different from my corner of America. I now have this mental pic of you in your astroturf yard, which gave me Seinfeld flashbacks.
    Unfortunately, where I live, people DO let their kids do idiotic stuff like run around banging their hands on the walls and yelling. They frequently like to do this at the store hubby works in, and they like to act like it’s perfectly normal behavior.
    You’ll have to let us know if more drama ensues. I’m gonna need follow up now. 🙂


    1. 😀 Ha! I didn’t say inconsiderate parents don’t exist, just that it is inconsiderate here, even once you enter your own building. :p Husband has plenty of stories of people letting their kids jump on the mattresses of his store–I’m guessing that one is universal. 😉

      I honestly am not sure if I’m more entertained or disgusted by the whole thing. Now you’ve got me thinking Seinfeld, hmmm, adding a screen door to the shopping list. 😀


    1. 😀 I’ve got 10 units on my floor. Some building experiences have been better/worse than others–this is far, far from the worst, but sometimes it feels like I’m living on Peyton Place. “Oh, you know I saw you with a man that wasn’t your husband the other day. Wuz that your brothah?” :p


  2. I remember living in a an apartment with garbage chutes. They had to seal them up and put big bins outside because rats were climbing up inside the chute. Ugh.


    1. 🙂 That’s one of my favorite things about the internet. It allows us to “meet” others with different lifestyles, peek into lives that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.


  3. Why did this post remind me of the boys who kicked the back of my chair in middle school? Oh, how I do NOT miss apartment life. Thanks for making me laugh. Needed it.


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