The powers that be are doing away with the formalities of the front desk situated across from the elevators in the lobby of my apartment building. And though the mere presence of the front desk, ah, dudes – for the lack of a better title, doesn’t really impede the flow of the undesirable element that invades my building on a twenty four hour basis, it must however keep some of the really unsocial trespassers from gaining access – like the ones that crawl or at least the really awkwardly slow ones pushing themselves backwards in wheelchairs with their feet.
Many a night I have come home to find an over-abundance of wayward crackheads wandering my building’s hallways or just loitering nonchalant in packs on the stairwells. Usually on full moons the premises are teeming with nocturnal wild life banging on doors and mumbling incoherently to themselves. Elevator rides are always exciting when accompanied by smelly people demanding things, anything, it doesn’t matter, just give me something, I deserve it, I’m a dope fiend and the world owes me! This of course puts a whole new meaning to the term ‘aggressive panhandling’ – and like hey, fuck off, I live here! Go outside and do that!
But it isn’t just the local transgressors trying to get out of the cold that I’m taking about here. It’s people like Tim who have lived in this building longer than I have and still have never been a tenant proper with their name on the lease or even on a mailbox for that matter. Tim, a genuinely nice guy, heavily addicted to crack cocaine, but still a somewhat nice guy, is an expert at finding and then living with women that are at about the same financially irresponsible level that he is only they gotta be one step up from Tim when he meets them, or what’s the point? They obviously have to have their own apartment and some viable steady income or Tim wouldn’t even waste his time hitting on them let alone moving in.
So like what’s the real deal here? “Hey baby, I ain’t got a damn thing going for me in life ‘cept this here crackpipe – can I come in and live with you?”
“You bet Timmy, and please abuse what’s left of my bank account while you’re here. Ok hun!”
I for one just don’t get it and it ain’t like it’s a fluke or a one time phenomenon where my man gotta little lucky and won the co-dependent lottery. Over the years Tim has introduced me to no less than eight different women as his ‘girl’ and he does it without laughing or at the very least cracking a smile! Hell two of them have lived on the same floor as me and even knew each other while he was jumping ship midstream, so to speak! And it ain’t like he misrepresents himself or nothing because if you lived in this building it would be pretty hard to not notice Tim hustling crack all day long outside on Third Street. All you’d have to do is take a walk over to Jack’s Liquors and you’d run into him posted up on the corner and even if he didn’t know you he’d ask you if you wanted to buy some rock, some crack, you know, as he puts it – some a that good shit.
Him and the deranged dude in the wheelchair that hasn’t moved from the same spot from under the freeway for the whole two years that I’ve lived here run the petty nickel and dime dope deals in the dank alleyways that I park my car in. They short change every crack addicted desperado in a four block radius and even some miscellaneous ignorant club goers that willingly fall prey into their grasp. And it’s not that Tim should be able to afford his own palatial crib in my building or anything. He’s a dope fiend for Christ shake. But for some reason he prefers to be at the whim of circumstance’s fickle embrace and bed down with the next up and coming soon to be on the evicted list love child! Of course given the choice of sleeping under the freeway on cold cement or sleeping with the next available crack ho in a warm apartment – well, you get the picture and in the end what the hell do I really know?
But enough about Tim and his amorous pursuits. The real problem at hand is the security question left dangling unanswered at my humble abode. What’s life to be like when the front doors are flung open and left unguarded for every lowlife in the neighborhood to come traipsing in whenever they feel the whim to invade the corridors and desecrate the dimly lit stairways? Of course obviously the front door guys didn’t do a whole lot to stop anyone in the first place. Which is undoubtedly the reason for their demise, and rightly so, but the alternative plan “Big Tony” the landlord laid out to me this morning wasn’t the best and it didn’t inspire an immediately overwhelming sense of security in me either.
“We’re gonna get cameras all over the freak’in place! Cameras so sharp ya can see the hairs on a flea’s ass!” He says while waving his arms about like the mad man he truly is. “An the front door’s gonna have a buzzer hooked up to your unit’s telephone, so’s they just call yer room and ya buzz ‘em in – presto like!”
I can not tell you how that begins to instill in me a sense of safety like you wouldn’t believe! So, let me get this right. Instead of a useless unobservant idiot that can at least make a phone call to the police while cowering behind the safety of the front desk as the blood shed ensues, I am now at the whim of a forensic team discovering the order of my demise via video playback in high definition digital feed? I will sleep oh so much better tonight Tony, thanks!
Apparently the newly being built security booth where the front desk was formerly located will now be a walled in cubicle which will hold banks of television monitors projecting views of all the hallways simultaneously as the same guys that couldn’t even stop the crazy bag lady from living up on the roof for the last year and a half are now expected to man the cameras and be in charge of the safe keeping of our lives and our property. Yep! Technology triumphs over all as the urbane crack house hits the 21st Century and unfortunately it appears that the inmates are very much still in control of the asylum!
What I’m really starting to suspect here is that Tony and his cohorts will no doubt be recording all the misadventures of the local dissidents and then pandering it as some horrid low budget reality TV show on cable or worse a demented rent-a-cop training film for some other slum lord’s benefit. Honestly, nothing he does would surprise me anymore. But just as strange a concept as Tony wanting to see the hairs on a flea’s ass in the first place, what in the long run is this warped idea of protection really going to accomplish? That they’ll be able to clearly see all the local vagrants in startling clarity right before they steal the cameras off the walls and then set fire to the place? Because as we’ve all now gathered there’s not even going to be a sleeping underpaid, overworked and much abused human being manning the front desk to stop anything anybody will try and do and I haven’t even begun to think about what will happen to delivered packages or the regular mail!
Just how did he come to this decision anyway? The front desk guys are useless, so let’s just trash that old outmoded plan and recreate a mini version of the fall of Rome – but hey, I know, let’s film it too! And just how much is this camera/monitor system costing anyway? Wouldn’t hiring real security guards, as in bonded not as in momentarily sober former drug addicts, cost less and actually address the woes of the old régime’s way of doing things? You see it really doesn’t make sense and if it was in any other city where living space isn’t at such a premium as it is in San Francisco than Big Tony would probably be employing lil’ Tony to come down and torch the place for the insurance money and then just wash his gasoline scented hands of the whole freak’in mess! But maybe that is the plan, but he’s gonna jack up the bounty by adding a few hundred grand of surveillance equipment to the establishment before they strike the match and we all go up in flames!