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The Tale of the Shitty Building




My good friend reminded me of this story which has never ended for the past 15 years. It's a shitty tale, all right.

A while back I was President of my co-op board, a position I took quite seriously. I already had the cards stacked against me: the former owner  (sponsor) who did unscrupulous acts and ripped off the building in every imaginable way, investors who ripped the building off in every imaginable way and almost all the shareholders ignorant as dirt who supported the sponsor and the investors.

Kinda made me want to hit my head against the wall.

My friend and I were quite progressive. In the first year, I succeeded in rebuilding the structure of the building while boosting its financial health. Except for my friend, everyone hated me. Yet, the market value in one year skyrocketed by over 200% causing a high turnover. It didn't change the caliber of shareholder. For some reason, most of the people who bought into this building, despite purportedly educated with quality high-paying jobs, were dumb as shit.

Still, I was hated. Especially when presented with an extraordinarily disgusting situation.

"Are you aware that there's an MS patient in the building?" asked one of the long-term shareholders. I shook my head. "Her sister, a nurse herself, bought the apartment for her because it was cheaper than sending her to a nursing facility. The sister has 24/7 nursing care. But, this building's not equipped to deal with her medical issues, particularly the fact that she came down with a highly contagious and non-curable disease to which we're exposed through her feces."

"Her feces?" I yelled.

She showed me videotapes as the building has CCTV on each floor. Let's say I was ill prepared for what awaited me.

The 24/7 nurses were very good at wearing gloves. They wore gloves when they tossed the feces direct from the woman's sheets, not placed in bags, and tossed it down the garbage chutes to the compactor in the basement. They wore gloves which they used, smeared with feces, on the doorknob. And, when they did the laundry, they wore gloves which they never removed after they put the feces and urine-stained laundry into the washing machine, pushing buttons, touching elevator doorknobs, etc etc etc.

"We got a particularly disgusting situation," I informed the managing agent. I had him write letters to the sister who owned the apartment, but didn't reside in the building. After no response, he phoned. Still no response. We're talking about months of watching fecal material flung in the garbage room. Not put in a bag, mind you, but with gloved hands, tossed down a garbage chute. Then, I had to contend with the super who had fits because he didn't want to be exposed to disease.

Before we knew it, we had to get our lawyers involved. And the owner of that apartment STILL didn't respond! We racked up a fortune in legal bills. For none of us had the legal right to approach the 24/7 nurses directly to end this mess. Upon the advice of legal counsel, I had no alternative, but to notify the shareholders of the situation because that floor had three young families with children who could get deathly ill from exposure to contaminated feces, let alone feces by itself.

I put up posters throughout the building and supplied anti-bacterial sanitizers, paid for by the shareholders. I had to let the shareholders know which apartment so they would know the guilty culprit.

Imagine my shock when I was attacked by shareholders in my building for outting her. They took pity and didn't mind being exposed to disease, let alone to feces. In my defense, I explained, "If the sister would've responded to any of our phone calls or letters, all of this would have ended."

Someone notified the sister. Incensed, she ran to the building and put up signs stating, "My sister's feces is clean. I should know because I'm a nurse myself at Mount Sinai Hospital."

I'll never go to Mount Sinai Hospital ever again.

Finally, the shareholder responded to the lawyers. I told them, "Listen, the building will pay for special garbage bags to give to the nurses. We'll even pay for gloves. Anything!"

She refused.

Desperate, I found out which health care service she used and called the head. "Please, we're desperate here," I stated. "We're constantly exposed to fecal material because of the slipshod ways of your nurses. I've videotapes of how they operate here. And I may have to quarantine this building if you don't step in."

They were aghast. In a matter of a day, the entire situation was remedied. After a tutorial on how to use garbage bags, when to dispose used gloves and how. But, it was remedied.

$45,000 later in legal fees, that is.

And the $1,000 to clean the garbage chutes. And another $1,000 to clean the compactor room and pretty much hose everything down.

It took a long time for shareholders to stop maligning me over the situation. For it was my fault that the MS woman has diseases to which her health care aids exposed us through slovenly methods. Then, the same shareholders complained about the odors from that apartment. At this point, I bowed out.

But that's not all. It seems that dealing with shit in that building was my #1 role. Another shareholder dumped her pet rabbit's shit down the garbage chute, not using garbage bags.

And so it went.

Over the years, there was always shit problems emanating primarily from that apartment. By this time, I quit the board because I couldn't deal with shit and those shitheads. Then, one day I returned home and the entire building smelt of... shit. Turns out another sister went to visit and while taking a shit, broke the toilet sewer pipes. The people who dwelt below had to suffer shit pouring down their walls.

But it wasn't my problem any more. For I moved.

Flash forward years later. My friend phoned.

"You're not going to believe this!" he said. "Remember that apartment with all the shit problems?"

I groaned.

"Yep. They're back to it again with the garbage chutes as well as the laundry center. I'm fighting the board and shareholders who don't see this as a problem."

I'd like to have a real snappy way to tie this story together, but honestly, it's way too fucked up.

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