Thursday, November 3, 2011

This Transcript Is Brought to You by the Neighborhood Watch

Not too long ago, someone busted up a section of the glass in my apartment building’s inner front door. In response, one of my neighbors has established a Tenant Patrol, and I got roped into serving on it. My first shift was last night. Here are some of the highlights (most of the times stated below are approximations):

8:59 p.m. – I step out of the elevator and into the lobby to relieve the husky, tight-lipped boy who lives on my floor. When I last spoke to him in June, he had just graduated from high school and was gearing up for his freshman year at the University of Miami this fall. This is the 3rd or 4th time I’ve run into him since late August, so something’s happened. Probably something pretty embarrassing.

“Is there anything I should do besides looking fierce?” I ask.

“Huh-huh,” he insincerely titters. He’s never found me funny.

“Are there any instructions?”

“No,” he says. He walks to the front door and out into the night.

I take my place at the rickety table. A big TENANT PATROL poster is taped to its front. The chair is comfortable as hell.

9:05 – The teenager who’s rumored to have smashed the front-door glass walks in. He’s one of my favorite neighbors and I think I’m one of his.

9:15 – Another neighbor arrives with his girlfriend. They’re both in their early twenties. I’m very friendly with the building’s teens and early twentysomethings, and I’d been hoping that none of them would catch me doing this. Now they’ll think I’m a loser who has defected to the other side. But I most likely hate the other side more than they do. This is more of a Special Ops gig than a law enforcement role. They should think of me as that kid from Home Alone – this is my house and I have to defend it.

9:35 – I never knew that a lot of these people coming in and out even lived in the building. Maybe they don’t.

9:40 – The Patrol organizer comes downstairs in her slippers, holding a dish of hot food and a large beverage. She’s not scheduled to relieve me until 10, but for some reason she was worried about the table being unstaffed. I tell her to go on back upstairs and take her time with the meal.

9:45 – An argument (in Russian), between a man and a woman, erupts from an apartment that borders the front door. I’ve long suspected that an Eastern European prostitution ring or escort service is run out of this unit.

9:48 – The man from the argument is now loudly talking on the phone (in English), asking someone if s/he would be available to come in for an interview. “What should you bring?” he asks. “Just bring your smile.”

9:50 - One of the building’s drunks walks off the elevator. He says he’s going to the store to pick up some water.

9:55 – The current head of the household in the sex-trade den emerges, decked out in Diesel, to throw out an oddly-shaped bag of trash. He doesn’t say hello or make eye contact.

10:05 – Here comes the drunk, back from his water run. He’s carrying a black plastic bag filled with at least two bottles. He ambles toward my table, reaching into his bag to pull something out for me. Yay! Maybe he’ll pour some Patron for my patrol!

False alarm – he takes out a bottle of fruit punch-flavored vitamin water and a straw, and sets it all down on the table. “That’s in case you get thirsty,” he says.

10:10 – What’s taking the organizer so long? I told her to take her time, but not like this. My shift was slated to end at 10.

10:15 – The sex-trader heads out of the building wearing a red leather jacket, possibly setting off on a recruiting trip.

10:25 – The organizer reappears, with a troubled look on her face. “I’m going to pack everything up and call it a night,” she says. “I ate too fast and now I’ve got gas.”

32 comments:

  1. There are definitely perks to living in a building full of people...out in the country, I watch cows, horses, goats, and slow-moving porcupines. Nothing as good as this!

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  2. This is so funny. You do live in an exciting neighborhood. Characters are so picturesque. There is your material for the book. Quit your day time job, volunteer for full time patrol, write the book and I am already in line for the first copy. The universe is providing you with plenty material.

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  3. Tenant patrols...I don't know how I have managed to escape patrol duty all of these years. However, during my child-rearing years, I did a LOT of after school parent patrols. I am delighted to report that they were all uneventful, with the one exception of the time I strained my ankle with new boots. My "partner" (we mothers went out in twosies) was a fast walker, and I had to trot to keep up. The trotting, combined with unbroken-in boots, did me right in.

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  4. I agree with all the others. But I nevertheless had to add my appreciation. I laughed out loud about the 10:05 observation. So much, my belly moved.

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  5. Pure gold, my friend. :o)

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  6. You can always make an evening out of observing your neighbors. ;)

    Happy SITS Day!

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  7. Hilarious! I love the whole sex den/prostitution ring story! Hope you have a very happy SITS day! :)

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  8. Haha, love the ending! And I want to know what happened with the job interview for the sex den. Happy SITS day!

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  9. Oh my word, you should write a book! Or is the real reason you volunteered just so you could add another chapter to that bestseller? Hmmmm?

    Happy SITS Day!

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  10. Sounds like you were pretty fierce on that watch. Good thing you didn't have gas.

    Happy SITS Day!

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  11. Sounds like an interesting hour! Happy SITS Day!

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  12. So how long did the patrol thing last for anyways? Sounds like the organizer was baling pretty fast. Happy SITS day.

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  13. This made me laugh ... people watching is one of my very favorite activities. Mainly because there are some very peculiar people to watch!

    Visiting from SITS! :)

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  14. {Melinda} Oh my. Isn't people watching fun? Although sometimes ignorance is bliss. Sometimes it's better not to know too much about our neighbors! :)

    Happy SITS Day!

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  15. I love the comment that the teenager thinks he's your favorite. As a teacher I wonder what goes on in their heads.

    Enjoy your SITS Day.

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  16. Oooh I love people watching. Tenant patrol duty is such a perfect excuse for it.
    Happy SITS day!

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  17. Hehehe.... too funny! Happy SITS day!

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  18. Hilarious...just what I needed on a Monday morning...
    Happy SITS day!

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  19. We used to do some people watching in the front yard, but the drunk down the street moved and now it isn't quite so interesting!

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  20. Loved this. I lived in a building where I thought my downstairs neighbors were in the mafia. Made up some really interesting stories about their lives. You're too funny would love to do a stakeout with you. Lol.

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  21. LOL! First of all, drunk guy was pretty thoughtful to bring you a drink. And second of all, organizer was, well, not too organized. "I ate my dinner to fast, and now I've got gas?" Who says that! Thanks for sharing your blog! Off to look around!

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  22. Hahahaha, now that's hysterical! Sounds like something I'd manage to get myself roped into! You need to keep blogging about this!

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  23. On a sidenote, I feel like I should say this since I help women get out of prostitution...there is a number you can call and turn in the possible pimp. Let me know if you want it:)

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  24. Hilarious, and if our building in NYC started a patrol, I can pretty much assure you we'd have similar experiences :) Happy SITS day!

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  25. hahahaha!!! Oh man, I thought the organizer was bringing YOU dinner.....sorry...

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  26. this is hilarious! and like jill, I thought she was bringing YOU dinner also! good thing she didn't...you might have ended up being hte one with gas.

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