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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Another Hot Day in the Life

Saturday, 6 A.M. The board president at a 21-unit Manhattan co-op gets out of bed. It’s going to be another hot day, he thinks.

7 A.M. After breakfast, he takes his laundry downstairs to beat the weekend rush. There are only two washers and two dryers, so competition can be stiff. As he crosses the alley that leads to the ground-floor laundry room, a rat scurries from one hiding place to another. That reminds him: he has a 9:30 meeting that morning to discuss the rat problem.

7:45 A.M. While the president is transferring his wash to a dryer, a stranger brings in her laundry. In her late 70s or early 80s, the woman introduces herself with a pronounced Southern accent as the mother of a fifth-floor shareholder who is away on vacation. “I’m from Atlanta,” she says. “I just love coming to New York.”

8:30 A.M. The president has taken his laundry upstairs when he hears a knock on the door. It is the little old lady from Atlanta. Her smart card has become dumb. After working effectively on her wash, it refuses to work in the dryer, and she is in a panic because she has two loads of wet clothes and no way to dry them. The president offers her his card, an action that floors her. “That’s very nice of you,” she says. “It’s one of the services we offer as a co-op,” he says drily.

9:30 A.M. The president meets with a longtime board member, a concerned shareholder, the super, and a new shareholder who lives on the first floor and has just joined the board primarily to deal with the rat problem. The new shareholder has private access to the backyard garden area, but he’s afraid to use it because of the rats, whose population has grown with the increase of restaurants on the block. “Well, if you have a rat phobia, serving on the ‘Rat Patrol’ is a good way to deal with it,” quips the president. The new shareholder reports that he has done research on new garbage bins, and the super indicates the type he prefers.

1 P.M. The president is relaxing in his air-conditioned apartment when the intercom buzzes. “UPS,” says a distorted voice. Rather than buzzing him in, the president says, “I’ll be right down.” He walks down the three flights to the lobby and finds no one is there – and no package has been left behind. This is the second “disappearing delivery person” in as many days, and it must be considered an attempted security breach. The president makes a note to remind shareholders to be conscious of who they admit to the property.

4:45 P.M. Someone is pounding on the president’s door. Three firefighters in full regalia – coats, oxygen tanks, and axes – are standing in the hallway. One of them is holding what looks like a magician’s wand, which is crackling like a Geiger counter. “Can we come in?” says one. “Possible gas leak.”

The magic wand leads them straight to the stove. They stick the wand in the oven, and the crackling goes crazy. That can’t be good, the president thinks. “Your oven is leaking gas,” says the firefighter with the wand. The stove is disconnected and the gas is shut off. “It was lucky we came. The building could have blown up.”

A smart card gone stupid in the laundry room. Rats in the alley. An intruder at the front door. A gas leak and shutdown. Yes, the president reflects, he was right when he got out of bed. It was, indeed, another hot day.

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