Ask Aunt Chelsea, Week of Sept. 25, 2013
Dear Aunt Chelsea:
I just moved to New York a few months ago, and I’ve never lived in an apartment building. Now this country girl, who’s used to wide open spaces, finds herself in a studio apartment that’s underneath a bunch of forgetful 20-somethings who are eventually going to destroy her little patch of happiness.
The other day, I heard water running — which was odd, because I was the only one home. When I went to look at the bathroom, water was flooding from the vent, from under the doorframe and slowly gathering beneath my ceiling wallpaper. I ran upstairs and knocked on the door. A nice young man opened it, and I politely asked, “Did you leave your water running?” The answer, of course, was yes — and this is the second time they’ve flooded my apartment! Last month, I had to call the fire department because they left the shower running while they were gone (I was afraid that someone had died in their bathtub!).
My building super has not fixed the water damage because it’s not his “first priority.” Is there anything I can do to prevent future floods?
For the next three months, I’m afraid you’re simply going to have to live with the threat of a little water on the brain…and in the tub, and all over your bathroom rug.
Sadly, that new Apple iPhone doesn’t come with an empathy chip. So as nice as they may be, there’s little hope those scatterbrains will overcome their forgetful ways in the service of making your life easier — and your local engine house will soon tire of getting calls every time you expect them to put out a fire that has to do with water. So let’s turn our attention to motivating that less-than-spectacular super to bump you up on his list of priorities.
Just as sure as the drug store next to the Halloween pop up shop is selling Christmas paraphernalia, the solution to your problem is on the shelf and available for purchase. I’m talking about a savvy little wheel-greaser that never fails to save old Aunt Chelsea’s rent stabilized bacon.
My tip? Tip your super, come late December. Waylay him with the triple whammy of cash, a gift card and a scrumptious homemade baked item. I guarantee that overscheduled Scrooge will soon morph into Mister Softee — a skilled, proactive plumber who’ll have a stern word for the people upstairs, a tarp for your warped ceiling and a bendable ear for all of your renter’s woes. Yes, I know this is tantamount to bribery…but I also know it’s what needs to be done to get the job done. Welcome to New York, honey — where cash money does the job of good fences, when it comes to getting along with your (upstairs) neighbors.
Dear Aunt Chelsea:
I recently left for college and am settling into my new university lifestyle. Living on a small campus, I expected a warm community — yet this doesn’t seem to be the case. Every time I meet somebody in class or at a party, I am always afraid they will forget me. I have exchanged numbers with said people and found that on the way to class, they will pass me by in the hallways without even a wave or a nod — and I’m too shy to keep bugging them. What do I do?
Hallways are notoriously poor barometers with which to gauge how much interest a casual acquaintance has in becoming your friend. Chances are, they’re too preoccupied with their own problems to notice you’re being slighted by their lack of eye contact. If you want to make lasting connections, sign up for a club. On week one of my freshman year, I joined the college Forensics team — and in no time at all, an inarticulate wallflower discovered her gift of gab and her knack for dispensing impromptu advice. What’s more, the new friends I made became lifelong chums. I’ll just bet there’s an activity on campus that’ll garner you a slew of likeminded pals.
Good luck, hon…and if becoming a joiner doesn’t do the trick, there’s always hospital volunteer work and the prison pen pal circuit!