We get all get annoyed sometimes. From jobs to daily living, we have plenty of worries and trouble. To that annoying person, sometimes we just want to stand up and yell at her. There’s plenty to love about my building: close to trains and parks, with elevator and laundry facilities, thick pre-war walls. The neighborhood boasts a mélange of artists, students, and attractive young families.
Then there is the super: a portly immigrant proud of his mixed background and, apparently, his sweat pants. He first tried to keep us out of our apartment by insisting we had not verified our move-in date (we had). Soon he was screaming at us about recycling infractions that were not our fault—I don’t drink soy milk, thank you.
We waited hours one morning for him to come and install the new smoke detector, as law required. Then we noticed he had left it hanging from our doorknob in a plastic shopping bag. Tough luck when something breaks: he doesn’t take our calls. More than once he has tried to slam a door on the head of one of our small dogs.
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He calls my wife a “cocksucking cunt” just for passing him in the hall, threatens visiting friends, and sputters that black men are parasitic, jobless thugs. He’s learned exactly enough English to bully, intimidate, and swear. You could no more argue with him than with a sweaty, 300-pound air horn.
Complaints to the building’s owners are useless—they dismiss even written accounts of violent sexual insults or his labeling a Muslim tenant (and mother of two impossibly well-behaved young girls) a “savage.” With open war a dead option, we resolved on a guerilla campaign of such utter passive-aggression that the enemy—prone as he is to fits of foaming fury—will one day suffer a fatal stroke, if not a torturous mental breakdown.
We began with your typical freeze-out. No matter what he says, we act like he doesn’t exist. You do this to desperate homeless people all the time, why not a bona fide asshole? His bloated ego can’t handle the assault. His attempts to scold us for nothing became more and more unhinged until he lapsed into a bitter silence.
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He has a door at street level, so we let the dogs shit right in front. It seems poetically apt, since for weeks he claimed we’d been walking our dogs, and letting them shit, in the basement. Asked about renting in the building, we point out where the “helpful” super lives, encouraging people to knock and say hello. We gather hundreds of loose delivery menus and slip them into his apartment. Imagine him buried alive in menus.
On his illiterate, unnecessary signs—with a form of moronic punctuation utilized nowhere else on this planet—we create the illusion of accelerated wear and tear. How many times will he fix the same incoherent notice? I’ve been picking the Scotch tape off one in the basement, and it’s now been coated in thirty layers of the stuff in some frantic effort to combat this needle-torture vandalism.
We always pay rent on time. That way management continues to believe us ideal clients while we go on poking at the super: his reports of our drug abuse, rooftop parties and policy of buzzing in strangers all go unheard. He has found himself alone, stranded with his hatred, which nobody shares.
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If he’s trying to hose the sidewalk, we stop and stand in the way, pretending to send an important text. We track mud right through that spot on the lobby floor he just mopped. Everyone knows you shouldn’t throw garbage out the window, but there’s a spot six floors below my bathroom window that the super alone has to clean. I drop him waxy Q-tips and old Band-aids to pick up now and then.
Lately a change has come over the super. He seems disinclined to fight, usually ducking into his triple-padlocked utility closet when we approach. At other times he stands around with an air of bewilderment, as if unsure how it is happening to him, that he has come to reap the infinite small annoyances befitting an asshole like himself. The world itself appears to conspire against him.
It’s not revenge, mind you—it’s justice.