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PROMOTING EXCELLENCE IN NYC MULTI-FAMILY BUILDING OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE

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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
 
  Walking That Line  
     
  by Peter Grech   This article appeared in the August 2003 issue of Super!  
 

I KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BE A SUPER. One of the hardest jobs we have is walking that fine line, trying to please management, staff and tenants.

Building owners and co-op boards do not quite see us as management. Neither does the property agent. Yet staff and tenants do see us as management. Where are we, anyway?

That’s not easy to answer. When tenants have issues with management, we find ourselves in the middle, or when the owner or board is not happy, or when the staff has issues, we are again in the middle. Whenever there are cutbacks, money has to be saved, or an apartment has to be turned over faster, for less, we are in the middle.

By and large, management thinks of us as supervisors at their beck and call, waiting by the phone to solve any problem that comes up. Most tenants, on the other hand, see us an uneducated, glorified porters and handymen who stay awake all night and weekends – 24/7.

A tenant the other day asked the doorman, “What day is garbage pickup?” as he needed to throw out some furniture. He was most insistent and demanded an answer. So the doorman called me at my apartment at 1:30 am, as the tenant would not leave the lobby until he received an answer. Lucky my building is a rental, because I gave that tenant an answer all right! Tenants think we are at the ready to service them whenever they want. To a degree, most supers are – in an emergency.

Staff think we have the greatest job on earth: free rent, garage in some cases, etc. But I would rather get paid more money than to have the free rent and live elsewhere. There is so much hidden pressure and stress on our jobs.

Dealing with people’s homes is never an easy task. If dry cleaning is missing it’s our fault and we have to hunt it down. If a package was not delivered in a timely manner, it’s our fault. No it’s not easy being a super.

Vendors who call you, not to say “Hi!” but “Where is the payment?” for items they shipped to you – because management was slow in paying again. Then there’s the contractor who promises you and the tenant a certain date and never shows up. That’s our fault too. Oh, and if your building is union, then you have the pleasant experience of dealing with the union.

Always the finger pointing when something goes wrong! We are the captains of our ships; we are responsible for everything.

Yes, by brothers and sisters, at times we wonder why we got into this career. I did because I love it. Why did you? Let us know. And if you have a story to tell, send it to us. Don’t worry about the spelling. Our editor is good at that!