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City DIY Mini-series: Studs and Stud Muffins

9 Aug

Ok, so as you know from our last little foray into the world of DIY projects, IKEA-furniture-building is wonderfully simple. My Expedit bookshelf that I reassembled is up and it is sturdy!  But on to the big guns.

You know what wasn’t sturdy?  My bedroom closet.  When I first began piling my belongings into it, after the move-in, it occurred to me that the top shelf and rod spanned a pretty long distance (76 inches, to be exact).  But I was possessed by move-in madness.  All I wanted was to get everything put AWAY.  So, I packed that closet full, and I shut the door.  Out of sight, out of mind.

And then, like a true space-cadet, I forgot all about it.  Closet?  Shelf that’s bowing under the weight of a mountain of crap?  What on Earth are you talking about?  Yup, I’d forgotten all about my initial closet worry until one Friday night while I was watching TV.  I heard the loudest thud come from the bedroom, and thought “what on earth could have made that sound?!”  This:

If you can’t tell from my photography skillzzzz, the picture you’re staring at is showing a closet’s worth of shit, in a lump on the floor.  Nice.  One of the side supports for the top shelf of the closet had pulled right out of the wall.  It clearly had not been screwed into any studs – just the flimsy old sheetrock.  So, with the weight of my belongings, the whole shelf just came tumbling down, and it pulled down the whole rod of clothes, in it’s path (in my haste and panic, I actually removed the fallen shelf and shelf-contents prior to taking the photos…sorry!).  UGH!  Closet fixing/re-organizing = not how I wanted to spend a Friday night.

I busted out my tool box to see if I had anything that might help me reinforce the supports (and screw the fallen support piece back into the wall.  But alas, my poor wimpy screwdriver was not going to get the job done.

Before it got too late, I headed over to the local hardware store and bought myself a decent drill and a stud-finder, and I set out to get that closet fixed immediately.  I couldn’t stand looking at the mess of clothes and linens all over the bedroom floor.  Initially, I thought I’d screw in a bunch of reinforcing wood pieces below the original supports (if the primary support beam ever pulled out of the wall, I figured the lower one would “catch” it).  However, in talking to my dad, I learned that just screwing an additional piece of wood below the existing one would not actually do jack shit, despite the fact that it all seemed good in my head.

But, he assured me that if I found the studs and made sure to screw directly into them, the shelf and rod should hold up just fine.  So, that’s what I did.  In the picture below, the black dots are the screws I put in, into the studs (I did the same thing on all three support sides), with an additional screw in the middle.  The other random screws that the builder put in are not really even close to the studs.  4-star contracting.

As a final additional safety measure, my dad suggested (and brought right to my doorstep!) a closet rod and shelf support bracket.  It, too, was drilled into a stud, and the whole shelf and rod feel SO much more stable now.

So, rule number 1:  FIND STUDS!   For those who are still scratching their heads about what a stud is (don’t worry, I’m a construction idiot, too – you should have seen me trying to use the damn drill!), it’s a vertical beam in your wall.  When you screw into it, the screw is secured directly into the wood of the stud, resulting in a strong hold.  If you don’t find a stud when hanging something on a wall then you’re just securing the screw into sheetrock…which isn’t really secure at all.

If your sheetrock wasn’t there, your studs would look like this:

Or this:

Just kidding.  What?  No Dirty Dancing maniacs out there?  Just me?  Weren’t you wondering where the “stud muffin” part of the title was going to come in?

Ok, for serious.  The lesson here is that if you see a closet or shelf or cabinet that doesn’t look too sturdy when you move in, don’t just load it down with heavy items and assume it will hold.  Ask your super or landlord to fix it or reinforce it (taking care of apartment issues is what they’re there for!).  Or, in a case like mine, just take the ten minutes to ensure that the screws are all going into studs.  And maybe go the extra mile to put up a support bracket.  Better safe than sorry (especially if you have 2 kitties who like to sleep in your closet All. Day. Long.)!

And one more time for good measure, here is what a SAFE closet looks like:

Tah-dahhh!!!!!

Got a stud story?  Studs OR stud muffins are welcome here.  Tell me about it!

 

Images:  (5) Four Brothers Carpentry, (6) Synfully Delicious, All others Rebecca for Happy City Living

Spam Filtering on Craigslist (or How NOT to Get Swindled)

1 May

I got an email today from someone looking to sublet an NYC apartment this summer, and of course, I suggested good ol’ Craigslist.  There are more listings on that site than anywhere else (for the general public, anyway).  Plus, the lack of formality can make the site less stressful to use than real estate companies’ websites or other online apartment-finders.  Still, “the Craigslist method” of apartment hunting is riddled with problems, not the least of which is fake ads.  Craigslist pulls these fake ads down if they get flagged for removal by users, but it’s impossible to catch every offending post.  So, as a user, the best thing you can do is to learn what to watch out for.  In simply knowing the tell-tale signs of a fishy ad, you can save yourself tons of time and energy.  Who knows?  Maybe your search can be as painless as mine was when I moved to Harlem (the apartment I moved into was the first one and only one I saw).

Below, I’ve listed a couple of the signs of a scam.  Some of this may sound confusing, and that’s because the goal of scams IS to confuse you.  You might read by examples and go, “But wait, that doesn’t make any sense!”  You’d be correct, but people fall for these ads all the time, no matter how ridiculous they seem.  There is nothing straight-forward about what scammers do.  So, try to follow me here, as I describe the twisted logic of fake listings:

FAKE: If you buy a Louis Vuitton purse on Canal Street for $5, it ain’t Louis Vuitton. Hate to break it to ya.

Total fakeness #1:  The Misrepresentation

There are real estate companies – real ones and fake ones – that like to stretch the truth when posting on Craigslist.  One oft-used tactic is to mis-categorize listings.  Studios and junior-1s will be listed as 1BRs.  You might go to see a place that is called a 1BR on the listing, only to find out it actually doesn’t have a separate bedroom at all.

Another way for them to skirt reality is to include multiple apartment sizes within a building, on the same Craigslist ad, but only show the pricing of the least expensive size.  For example, an ad for a $1900 1BR in the Financial District might then show generic photos of a luxury building and say “offering studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms.”  When you call about the $1900 1BR listing you saw, they’ll say, “Oh, $1900 is for the studio.”

Here are two simple ways to avoid dealing with this bullsh*t:

  1. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.  If every 1BR that you’ve seen listed for the Financial District is at least $2500, then a $1900 listing for the same size unit in the same area is probably not legit.
  2. If you see a real estate company with oodles of listings that look virtually identical (all in the exact same format and showing the exact same photos), but vary in price and wording, be skeptical.

FAKE: This body type is not real. No one is shaped like this. Not even Princess Kate Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton Windsor. Damn close, but no cigar.

Total fakeness #2:  The Imaginary Apartment (aka the send-me-money scam)

I once watched an episode of the A&E show Intervention, wherein a man’s addiction to prescription drugs led him to make horrible choices (as with all the folks on that show).  This including making the choice to send money to scam artists.  He was addicted to sending money to lunatics in other countries who told him he’d won something.  Until I saw that episode, I had no idea that anyone fell for “send-me-money scams.”

But people do fall for money scams.  That’s why the scams still exist.  And Craigslist is a great place for scammers to prey on the naïve.  It’s a smart ploy, too.  First time apartment hunters, and people hunting for apartments in new cities, are often stressed out by the process and under-informed.

Do yourself a favor here:

  1. If you don’t know much about the city you’re moving into, use a realtor.  Try to find an agent who comes recommended by a friend or colleague.  If you don’t know anyone in the area, talk to multiple realtors to get a feel for how far your money will go in a given neighborhood.  This is what realtors are there for.  It is worth the money to avoid getting ripped off.
  2. If you live in the city and you’re just looking for a new apartment, nothing should be taken care of over the phone.  Go see all apartments in person.  Get a business card from the showing agent and look for their website online to confirm that they’re legit.  Do not send any money to anyone.  A lease signing should be done with the building management company or landlord, and the agent showing you the apartment should be involved in the process.  Checks should be handed over in person.

FAKE: The tooth fairy. No one except your mother would pay money for your baby teeth

There are a few things to look for when scanning Craigslist for your new apartment.  Here are some warning signs that can serve as quick red flags to potential listing problems:

  1. No phone number.  Listing agents want to get their apartments rented, so they definitely want you to call them.  99 times out of 100, they’ll list their cell phone number.  If you don’t see a phone number, this might mean something fishy is going on.
  2. @aol.com email addresses.  If the anonymous Craigslist email address is replaced with a generic personal email address, you may be staring at a scam listing.  Realtors will often include their work email in their listings, which will be easily recognizable, but if the sole contact email is a generic address, check the listing a bit more closely to see if everything else seems legitimate.
  3. The cheapest price around.  If you’re looking for a 1BR apartment in Soho and everything you’ve seen has cost $2800/month, a random listing for $1500 is probably not real.

More to come on Craigslist.  I’ll tell you about how realtors actually use the site and give you some info on wording, photos, and neighborhood names.  But for now, at least you can keep from falling victim to people who can only waste your time.  Apartment hunting on your own can feel like a full-time job, especially if you’re working with a deadline.  Taking heed to the points I listed here can filter out bad listings fast.

Anyone ever fallen victim to a Craigslist scam?  Anyone stealthily avoided scams?  If it was up to me, you’d be able to “cross listings off” of your search results, if you didn’t like them or if they seemed fake.  That way you could narrow down your search on the spot and not spend time scrolling through junk.  Craigslist creators, are you reading this?  Help a girl out!

Images:  (1) Flickr-wilrocka, (2) Flickr-HelgeThomas, (3) Flickr-Brad.Coy

If You Don’t Take Care of Your Nice Things…

28 Apr

…then you can’t have nice things. That was the rule in my house, growing up. It’s simple, but it’s important. In fact, I’d say it was the #2 most important lesson my parents instilled in my sister and me, topped only by the all-encompassing, “Make good choices.”

My parents, the founders of "Taking Care of Your Nice Things: The Lifestyle," and my sister, who takes care of all her nice things.

Increasingly, as we age, my sister and I are convinced that taking care of your nice things applies to all aspects of life. Here are a few of our favorite examples that we’ve encountered since leaving the nest:

  1. Your boyfriend doesn’t appreciate you, and, thus, you break up with him.  If he doesn’t take care of his nice things (i.e. you), then he can’t have nice things.
  2. Your coworker comes into work hung over and gets canned.  If she doesn’t take care of her nice things (i.e. her employment), then she can’t have nice things.
  3. You go out and get sloppy drunk and spill beer all over your brand new spring dress, ruining it for good.  If you don’t take care of your nice things (i.e. your pretty frock), then you can’t have nice things.

Wherever you may be in your life, taking care of your belongings is a must. And one good, old-fashioned way of protecting your goods is by getting insurance. We insure our lives, our homes, our money, and our workplaces. The homeowners of the world insure their houses and condos. But renters often neglect to afford themselves this type of security blanket.

Here’s the amazing part, though – renter’s insurance is one of the cheapest adult investments you can make! To insure a 1BR apartment, you will likely pay $15-$20 per month, through companies like State Farm, Allstate, and Liberty Mutual. In return, they will cover you for around $40,000 in most cases! I chose State Farm because they gave me the best price and the most coverage. Plus, their website was easy for me to navigate. Priorities, people.

Anyway, I’ve compiled three stories for you about scenarios where renter’s insurance has been a lifesaver. Take these tales to heart, and then, go sign up for some renter’s insurance of your own. I’ll tell you about two friends, and then I’ll share a saga of my own. Looking back, it seems that renter sagas are a theme in my life – ugh. Well, at least this misfortune had a decent ending.  Actually, all three stories did.

While you may feel you can control what goes on in your apartment, you cannot control your neighbors.

Story #1 – The Building Blaze

A guy I knew from college lived in the Lower East Side of NYC. We studied recording in school, and his post-graduation apartment had sound equipment that was worth some serious money (serious money for a 22-year-old, anyway). Unfortunately, when his building burned down – yes, the WHOLE THING was on fire – nearly all of his belongings were lost, including thousands of dollars worth of recording gear. He would have been shit outta luck, except that he had been forward-thinking enough, upon graduation, to sign up for renter’s insurance.  His insurance company gave him about $40K to cover his losses (musical and otherwise) and put him up in a fancy NYC hotel for a month.

Do you want your kitchen to look like this one? If it did look like this, would you want to pay to fix it?

Story #2 – The Epicurean Explosion

My sister’s friend used to live in an apartment right above her.  From the time this girl moved in, she had ongoing problems with her stove.  It never worked quite right, and there was always a gassy smell.  She had a hunch that something was seriously wrong and reported the issue to the building multiple times.  However, when maintenance came to look at the appliance, they never determined that it needed to be replaced.  How wrong they were.  One day while this girl was at work, the entire stove/oven unit basically exploded.  Her whole apartment was singed and she came home to find fire trucks everywhere.  Again, her smart thinking in initially getting renter’s insurance when she moved in, saved her having to replace everything she owned, out of pocket.  Not only did her insurance company pay for her damages, but they overnighted her a check for part of the money, so that her life didn’t have to come to a halt while the paperwork was all filed.

It's unclear what I am looking down at in this photo...or what I'm wearing, for that matter. Anyway, the thing to focus on is the left window pane, situated next to the couch.

Story #3 – The Great Harlem Flood of ’09

Ok, there was no flood in Harlem.  At least not in 2009.  But there was a weekend with CRAZY hurricane force winds, coupled with tons of rain and thunder and lightning.  And on that weekend, I was out of town.  Agent Owens was off working somewhere in Bumblef*ck, and I took a mini-vaykay to spend the weekend with him.  The good thing is that I missed being in NYC for all of that horrible weather.  The bad thing is that the window in my living room (right next to the couch) slid down, opening my apartment up to the elements.  Sucky.  In that Harlem apartment, I had one window that just would not stay up, and I had one window that wouldn’t budge to slide up or down, even when I used all the brute force I could conjure up.

So, on that particular weekend, the slippy window slipped down.  You know the phrase, “come hell or high water”?  Well, hell AND high water came into my apartment.  When I got home late that Sunday night, my living room looked like someone had broken into it – and that someone was Mother Nature.  My beloved Crate and Barrel couch was completely soaked through; my brand new throw quilt felt like it had been thrown into a swimming pool (a dirty swimming pool, at that); there were branches and leaves all over the floor and coffee table; and my laptop that had been plugged in and sitting on the couch was fried. (My brain:  I’m disconnected from the world!!!!!  AHHH.  Oh, wait, I have an iPhone.  Phew.  But still.  I need multiple small, technological devices available to me at all times.  Damn you, State Farm for not providing me with a new laptop at midnight on a Sunday!)

Oh yea, and all those damaged items?  They were NOT going to be cheap fixes.

Thanks to the cockroach/bee lady incidents, though, I had just signed up for renter’s insurance a few months earlier!  And like a good neighbor, State Farm was there for me.  I won’t tell you it was fun to file a claim.  It wasn’t.  There were lots of phone calls, lots of being put on hold, lots of paperwork…and I had to itemize everything in the apartment that had been damaged and prove the value of those items.  I had to go to the Apple store to get the Genius Bar guys to confirm in writing that my computer could not be fixed.  I had to link claim representatives to my couch online so that they could verify that the value I’d listed was correct.  In the end, State Farm cut me a check for about $3000 (the cost of everything I needed to replace, minus the $500 deductible). I certainly sat there and thought, wow, I’m glad I don’t try to make my living via insurance fraud.  Pain in the ass!  But I also thought, thank goodness I have insurance!

Just so that you can get an idea of the actual-factual numbers involved in renter’s insurance, I’ve outlined a simplified version of my old Harlem insurance policy.  These are the real numbers from that policy:

So, have I convinced you, yet?  For less money than you spend on coffee each month, you can take care of your nice things.  And you know what that means…you get to HAVE nice things.  Thank you for life lessons, Mom and Dad!

Anyone had success in the past with a company other than State Farm?  Any apartment damage sagas you’ve been itching to vent about?  Share ‘em!
Images:  (1) Rebecca for Happy City Living, (2) State Farm, (3) Flickr-JasonEdwardScottBain, (4) Flickr-Boyfixandprofit.com, (5) & (6) Rebecca for Happy City Living

Lions and Tigers and Bees, OH MY!

25 Apr

Ok, so there were no lions or tigers in Harlem.  But I do have a bee story for you.  And it WAS an “OH MY” kind of story.

I sometimes burn food while I cook.  So, do my neighbors.  One of the joys of living in apartment buildings, within 10 feet of other families, is that you can smell everything they burn, and you can breathe in the smoke that often seeps into the hallway, firsthand.  Here at The Gate, where I live now, a little bit of smoke in an apartment triggers an automatic call from building management, to make sure everyone is ok.  But back at Riverton, if someone scorched the toast or overcooked the bacon, it was the responsibility of everyone who lived on the floor to make sure the situation wasn’t serious.  To be fair, I was a frequent culprit of creating smoke, as I burned most everything I tried to bake. I got used to simply wafting the door to the hallway for a while, and opening some windows to air the place out.  It solved the problem fast, and no one paid me any mind.

I host a Christmas party every year. I make a big meal for all my friends, and do tons of cooking in advance. Inevitably, though, I try to make biscuits or some type of baked good during the party (so they come out hot!), and they ALWAYS burn. This year, at The Gate, building management had to call upstairs twice to make sure I hadn’t burned the place down. I’d like to blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol, but realistically, it’s my baking skills that are at fault.

So, anyway, I didn’t think much of the smokey smell that made its way under my front door one February evening, in Harlem.  I figured it would dissipate fast.  But then it didn’t.  And after 5 minutes of the smell getting worse, rather than better, Agent Owens and I made our way out into the hallway.  A few other neighbors did the same, and we quickly deduced that the now quite thick smoke was coming from under the door of an elderly resident.  Not just any elderly resident…the cockroach lady! Upon pounding on the woman’s door, we got no answer.

I immediately called 911 (and made a too-late mental note to sign up for renter’s insurance, which I’d been procrastinating doing, out of sheer laziness).  Another tenant had already called building security, too.  When the security officer arrived and knocked on the woman’s door, a little voice yelled out “I’m fine, thanks!”  This somehow satisfied the security person (WTF?!?!), and we residents were left standing in cloud of smoke.

The fire department then rushed onto the floor in full gear, complete with giant axes.  They beat on that old woman’s door so hard that I thought they might just knock it open.  She repeatedly tried to tell them to go away, and they repeatedly reminded her that the building was filling up with smoke.  After a few quick tries at reasoning with her, they gave her an ultimatum:  let us in, or we break down your door.  She sheepishly complied and opened the door, at which point smoke lunged out at everyone and something flew at a firefighter’s head.  He ducked as his partner exclaimed, “Was that a…BEE?!”

Yes, in the smokey haze a few bees had flown out of the apartment.  In February.  In freezing cold New York City.

In case you're not from Northeast, bees do not belong north of the Mason-Dixon line in February. I can't speak for the rest of the country, but in the Northeast, I know this much is true.

I have no idea what was going on in that apartment.  The old lady was fine.  Fine enough to argue with the firefighter.  Fine enough not to need any medical attention.  So I’d have to imagine she was “smoking” something (food, maybe?) on purpose.  Agent Owens reminded me that some beekeepers use smoke to calm the bees, but I doubt the woman was keeping bee hives in an NYC apartment.  I guess weirder animals have been kept in apartments (a dude in Harlem was found to have been living with a Bengal tiger and an alligator, in 2003).  But, still.

This is Ming. No, that's not the NYPD guy's name. Ming is the tiger in the window. Oh, you thought I was joking about a tiger and an alligator in an apartment? I only joke about animals weighing less than 400 lbs. This is the scene when the police tried to tranquilize the giant cat. He lunged at the window and broke the glass. The alligator was chillin' on the floor next to Ming, waiting to jump in if things got out of control.

Either way, the smoke-and-bees incident forced Riverton management to snap into action.  The cockroach/bee lady was clearly not living in healthy conditions.  And even more clearly, no one was checking in on her.  The firefighters went into that apartment and obviously saw the filth and bugs everywhere.  The next day there was a building maintenance team with a cart full of cleaning supplies, in the hallway of our floor.  They cleaned the place from floor to ceiling and ripped up the old carpet that used to stick out from under the lady’s door.  And, most importantly, it seemed that they fumigated the apartment because the roaches were gone instantly.  I never saw one more cockroach in the time I lived at Riverton.

There are a few lessons to learn from this tale:

  1. When your friends and family get old, make sure they’re taken care of.  Period.  You do not want your loved ones living in filth, with cockroaches for roommates – or smoking out bees.  And we all now know that’s a plausible scenario.  K?
  2. Bugs and pests from other apartments in your building can become a problem in YOUR apartment.  It doesn’t take long for little critters to venture down the hallway and slip under a different door.  They will always bring friends, too.  TIP!:  If you see a problem with pests developing in your building, notify building management.  Keep a record of these notifications, and if your problem is not attended to, call 311 (the NYC-info hotline) to get further help.  Tenants have rights!
  3. Renter’s insurance is a must.  I’ll go into more detail on this later.  In a nutshell, though, if the smoke had made its way into my apartment or if, heaven forbid, there actually had been a fire, I would have had no safety net to protect my home and my belongings.

Needless to say, I made it my business to get renter’s insurance immediately after this event.  See ya later, roaches!  What up, smart adult choices!

Anyone else ever have to call 911 about a problem in their apartment or building?  It’s nerve-racking, but I have to hand it to the FDNY, they beat the traffic and got there fast.  And, man, do they mean business!  You better follow instructions or they will cut you chop down your front door!

Images:  (1) Rebecca for Happy City Living, (2) Stock.xchng-levdavid, (3) The Gothamist

Roach Motel

22 Apr

I am not a bug person.  I understand that most insects serve some type of environmental, circle-of-life purpose, but I don’t want them serving that purpose anywhere near me.  New York City’s most famous bug, of course, is the cockroach.

By the time I lived in Harlem, I’d been in NYC for 5 years, and I’d heard oodles of stories about infestations throughout the city.  “Killer roaches” had been described as being big enough to bench press the bar of soap on your sink.  Most of these stories were grand exaggerations.  However, I’d seen cockroaches face to face, and they DID look pretty big (as bugs go) and prehistoric.

I’d never had a problem with roaches, though (read:  they’d never shown up at one of my apartments).  While I am by no means a clean-freak, I do always make sure not to leave any food out.  I don’t want to give any bugs or rodents a reason to visit me.  And this method of prevention had always worked for me.

So, imagine my surprise one night, when I get out of bed, go into the kitchen to get a glass of water, and see something scurry across the countertop as I flick on the light.  Insert momentary freak-out.  I couldn’t see where the roach went, but I quickly concluded that there must be some food container open in the pantry or something sticky on the counters.  I resolved to clean the kitchen, top to bottom the next morning.

EEEWWWW!

After attacking my countertops with Clorox Clean-up (my go-to), and going through every food item in the fridge and cupboards, I figured I had probably taken care of the issue.  But then, that night, I heard a rustling sound coming from the kitchen.  Yet again, as I turned on the light, a cockroach scurried across the floor.  Then, I noticed another one moving up the wall.  I would have completely panicked and admonished myself for being a filthy person, but plain old common sense had me befuddled.  There was NOTHING for these bugs to eat.  So, why on earth would they be here?!

I went out to the store the next day and invested in 3 different types of roach traps, plus poison (don’t worry, I didn’t have my kitties at this point), and a few bottles of Raid.  I put the traps and the poison out everywhere, and I kept the bottle of Raid handy at tall times.  If a roach showed his face, I was going to spray him to his demise, right there on the spot.

The magical red can. Raid actually makes eco-friendly big-killing products, but roaches need the baddest of bad chemicals.

After weeks of this, there seemed to be more roaches, rather than less, and I just could not figure it out.  They never left the kitchen and front hall, as far as I saw, but they seemed to be bringing more and more friends with them every single night.

Then, I started seeing cockroaches in the hall, by the elevators.  That’s when it finally crossed my mind that maybe I wasn’t the one bringing on the roach infestation. Maybe it was one of my neighbors.  Now, this would present both relief to me and also a big problem.  I wasn’t a dirty girl (PHEW!), but I also couldn’t go in and clean everyone else’s kitchen to try to stop the problem.  I let the management company know about the bugs, but as you may remember from this post, they weren’t big on solving issues for their tenants.

As the roach quantity increased in the hallway, I sprayed a line of Raid across my threshold every day.  Then, one day, I met my next-door neighbor (also my favorite neighbor) in the hall.  I got off the elevator, and she was spraying ammonia all over the walls.  “I’ve had it with these roaches!” she yelled.  Amen, sister.

She then marched over to another neighbor’s door and started spraying it.  As she did, I could see that there were little roaches all around the doorframe.  And worse yet, they were crawling in and out from under the door, too.  This was the source.  My friend doused the door with ammonia and killed off the insects we could see.  But you could see a filthy rug sticking out under the door, and the roaches seemed to come from it in a never-ending stream.

Get the 411 on cockroaches in the city here.

There was no simple fix.  The woman was ancient.  She lived alone, and there seemed to be no one checking in on her.  I’d seen her pushing her walker around in the courtyard and often been scared that she’d go tumbling right before my eyes.  She’d lived at Riverton for decades, but she was now so old.  And she was alone.  She probably couldn’t even see the roaches, let alone clean up enough to make them leave.

I called building management again, to no avail.  My neighbor did the same.  Little did we know what it would take before someone was sent in to clean that lady’s apartment up.  We’d soon find out.

Any of you city-dwellers ever have a problem with cockroaches?  How about mice or rats?  Or worse…bed bugs!  How did you solve your issue?  Is your skin crawling just reading about this?  Mine, too.

 

Images: (1) Therysma, (2) Flickr-KentaHayashi, (3) Walgreens, (4) NYC DOH, (5) YouTube-Showmanlee

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