When I got my mail today, I noticed that one of the windows separating the entrance of my apartment building from its lobby had been bashed in. The reason and mechanism for this remains a mystery, though it is probably safe to assume that someone kicked it in given that the window was close to the ground. However, I would like to point out that this was not merely a broken window; the glass was almost completely removed from the frame. Either someone delivered a powerful kick with a very large foot, or the procedure took several shots (N.B. I'm not a forensic scientist so this could be utter nonsense). None of this etiology really interested me, though, the main cause for concern with the sprinkling of glass shards that now graced the carpet. I thought someone should know about this, so I called my landlord.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, my landlord was out of town. When he told me this on a voice mail, he added an 'obviously' to this, perhaps implying that had he been in town he would have known of the broken window immediately and fixed it. Of course, my landlord is incompetent so, although I realized the possibility of his being gone for the holidays, I thought it was just as likely that he didn't notice. At any rate, since I brought it to his attention, he asked if I could be so kind as to clean it up. Most people would consider this an inconvenience. Admittedly, a part of me was not a fan of the idea, but I knew that if I didn't do it, it would just lay there until he got home. More importantly, however, I considered this as an opportunity to clean up something correctly for a change. Despite not being a janitor for almost two years now, there is still a part of me that cringes when I see the disrepair of this building: lights out, carpet missing, dry wall cracked and on the floor, &c. Sure I couldn't actually replace the window, but at the very least I could clean it up. And so I grabbed my garbage can, my broom and dustpan, and my vacuum cleaner and set to work.
There were a few things I discovered while cleaning up the glass:
- When the landlord cleans the floor, he apparently has no regard for the baseboards or the floor underneath the heating units. This was especially evident in the entranceway where the heating unit obscured an incredible amount of filth. Admittedly, it's a pain the ass to get under there, but it's not impossible.
- The landlord also does not seem to understand the usefulness of vacuum cleaner attachments. I get that it's hard to clean some places and that the chairs in the lobby are nailed to the floor. That doesn't give you an excuse for never vacuuming in the corner. Sure no one goes back there, but the thick layer of dust that had accumulated behind one of the chairs should have made you grimace enough to encourage a thorough cleaning.
- There are no outlets in the apartment building's lobby. This is just baffling. Sure, the lobby is not designed for much use besides standing around, but wouldn't you think it would be a nice idea to provide an opportunity for some electrical cleaning? As it stands, you have to prop open the laundry room door and unplug a dryer to vacuum. For those of you who may question my ability to find a power outlet, I confirmed this suspicion with the landlord who suggested the same method I used, though he did not seem particularly disturbed by its clusterfuckery.
- And finally, the front door, the one next to the broken window, does not unlock.
That last revelation is the most important, and, believe me, I learned it the hard way. Before I embarked on my cleaning I had not realized this because I had propped the door open to get my mail, and had done so when initially sweeping the entranceway as well. However, after going outside in an attempt to bang some of the glass out of my broom, I just let the door shut and found myself rather stuck. Bugger. Normally this would just be an inconvenience (though obviously one that should be resolved), but today it was particularly obnoxious: it was raining outside and the only other entrance had not been shoveled. So I trudged through the rain and the snow and wondered how long the door had been like that, and if anyone else had noticed. And if they had, did they call the landlord? Did they too have to trudge through the snow to get to the back entrance? Or perhaps, they decided on a more direct route: perhaps breaking through a window, crawling into the lobby and then opening the door from the other side.
This last possibility seemed fairly unlikely. First of all, it seems like it would be way too much work when you could just go around the back, snow or no snow. Secondly, why the hell would you break the lowest window? It would make a hell of a lot more sense to break the window directly next to the doorknob so that you could just reach in. I'm not writing this off entirely, though: one can never underestimate the power of stupidity and inebriation.
But again, I didn't really care how the window or the door got that way. I just cared about the mess, and I had cleaned that up nicely. Yes, I had entered complete janitor mode at this point. If I had had some duct tape I would have put a piece of cardboard over the broken window. If I had an extra doorknob (and the know how of replacing the cylinder so that people wouldn't have to get new keys), I would've replaced the broken one. Hell, if I had a shovel I would've shoveled the back entrance. Alas, I had none of these things so I simply vacuumed the whole lobby, rectifying the previous vacuum shortcomings.
Sometimes when I wander through this building and look at everything that needs to be fixed, I have an insatiable urge to just fix it myself regardless of time or cost. There are lights that have been out for six months here. The landlord says that this is because he can't find the replacement bulbs. Man, well take one in to Ace and tell them to get you one. Failing that, replace the fucking light fixture. Dumbass.
While cleaning up the lobby, it occurred to me that, on a certain level, I really do enjoy that kind of thing. However, it can't be compulsory. My apartment is a mess, god knows the last time I vacuumed it. Furthermore, though I recognize what needs to be done around here, I'm not about to volunteer to be a landlord. This is partly because of the snow, when it's your responsibility to get rid of snow, you live in constant fear of the next snowstorm. I'm so glad to be relieved of that.
Rather, I think I'd like to be some sort of rogue janitor. I'll just wander the country cleaning up public places whose caretaker has slipped in to apathy. I'll saunter in, sweep up the dirt, shine those mirrors, clean those baseboards and be on my way with a whistle and a tip o' the cap. Make no mistake, however, this would not be for some altruistic purpose nor would it be because of some overarching cleanliness fetish. Rather, I would do simply to proclaim loud and clear, "That's how you clean a lobby. Jerk."