Q. My recently evicted neighbor left some surprises in his apartment when he left. 375, completely filled, black garbage bags of rubbish surprises. The super had the cleaning crew put them in the backyard of our building. Beside being an incredible eye soar, it is starting to smell and the stench breezes up through our kitchen window. What should I do to (1) calm down (2) keep my kitchen air nice and friendly and (3) calm down, again?
A. Dear Uneasy Breezy,
This is no time to be calm. You should most definitely get mad instead of glad. I wouldn't wait on this a moment longer. As soon as you read this entry. Stop what ever you are doing. Wait. Actually don't. I guess if you are reading this you have already stopped most of what you are doing. And there are some other words of instruction I want to pass onto you before you take action. I'll try to give them to you in bullet points but sometimes those turn into bullet paragraphs. If that happens here, I apologize in advance.
1. Locate some kind of telephone. (If it's a cell phone make sure you have ample bars to make your call without being dropped. If it's a land line make sure you have a dial tone before you place the call. If you are at a pay phone, make sure you have some loose change. You may need more than one quarter. In the case you are at a pay phone, wait until you aren't. Don't make the call at this time. Wait until you have some other kind of phone. I'm not sure if pay phones even work any more. For all I know they are just a place where public drunkards leave bottles for cart pushing recyclers to retrieve them.)
2. Find the number of your super and the number of the health department. On second thought this point of instruction should be number one. Do this first. Then move onto step one.
3. Call your super and say this. Say this exactly. Don't waiver from the script. This is a carefully constructed interaction, intended to make sure you maintain the upper hand. If at anytime you find yourself add libbing, hang up and try your call again.
The script: "Hey super (insert their last name only), It's (insert your full name). How are you today?" Pause. "Oh yeah? Nice, that's great. So I just have a couple of quick questions and then I'll let you get back to the game and your sandwich. (Supers only and always eat sandwiches. Unless it's past eleven at night. Then they eat all different kinds of Cheetos.) First off, did you know some rapscallion left something like 374 black garbage bags in our backyard?" Pause. "Oh, 375. I see. Yes, well, on what day will they be removed? I'd like to make sure I'm out of the flat, as to avoid the commotion."
4. Here you pause again to hear what they have to say. From here you will either get an adequate answer or move on to step 5. Whatever the answer, end the phone call like this: "You know I find this all so interesting. As I was leaving the other day, I ran into Dale from the health department. He seemed really interested in it too. It looked like he was writing all about it in his little notebook."
5. Unless you are totally happy with the answer you get at the end of step 4, call the health department as soon as you have finished with the phone call with your super. From what I have experienced, health departments are a pain to deal with. A pain anyone should want to avoid.
If you fear retaliation in the form of unfair treatment from your super just skip that call altogether and call the health department first. If you think trash isn't going to be motivation enough for them to come out. Also mention to them that you saw some chipped paint in a common area and some kids were eating it. Health departments love lead poisonings. You should have an official out in a few days.
And while you are in the process of making phone calls, why don't you go ahead and call the police as well. I think statistics show there are human remains in 1 of every 23 black garbage bags. If you are lucky they will send out a team to collect the refuse as evidence.
As for the kitchen? I don't know. Have you tried grinding up some lemon peel or lighting a match?
There is no reason to patiently endure this.
Hope this helps. And all the best with all of that.