Tuesday, November 10, 2015


The half-crazy super is sorting the garbage as I'm coming back into the building and waylays me with an obscenity-heavy disquisition on the garbage and recycling iniquities of the other superintendents on the block. The lecture is so intricate that, in the final analysis, I'm unable to figure out whether he supports a regime of recycling, with its rules and sorting requirements, or not. I gather, at least, that "in the 70s" the building's waste bags were impossibly heavy, bulging with every kind of thing. I also gather that the sanitation patrol people exercise their fining powers with vengeful pettiness. The super lauds their efforts for the most part, even as he expresses bitter resignation at the fact of their powers. But in the case of a fellow super – "a fucking idiot" who argued with a sanitation patrolman, who then radioed an NYPD car and lied to the real cops about "the idiot" having put hands on him – my guy's attitude turns to bitter hatred of the authorities.

Later in our "conversation," he describes a woman who liked to dump her household garbage in the public basket on the corner. A sanitation patrolman patiently stakes out the location, then catches her redhanded one morning and writes the ticket. With a shake of his head, the super stabs the air with his voice like a dull knife: "100 bucks!"

"Well," I circumspect, "the city has to make money somehow."

"No. This city is never satisfied. Not in a million years."