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Monthly Meeting Announcement for Monday, May 5, 2014


Our May meeting will have THREE TOPICS IN ONE NIGHT.

  • First Topic: What changes have taken place to the 2011 NYC Fire Codes.
  • Second Topic: Resumes. (we are late with this annual presentation, but new changes have been added)
  • Third Topic: SO you want to be a Superintendent. We will go over all the items that are typically required to become a superintendent, or Resident Manager
Doors open at 5:30 pm with food and refreshments.
Topics begin at 6:00 pm.
Address – 230 East 90 St. Between 3rd and 2nd Avenues.
Please email me should you have any questions.

Thank  you. 
Peter Grech
The Superintendents Technical Association
Please note that we have a new Google + page, all are welcome to join us, and don’t forget that we have Facebook, Twitter and a Linkedin group too!   Google+

New OSHA Requirement and GHS Class

OSHA & GHS Class
STA is proud to bring another class due to the demand for the OSHA GHS CLASS.
This most likely will be the last class at $25.00 and $30.00.
It will be held on Monday, April 7, at 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm located at:  230 East 90 street – basement for the church.
GHS is an OSHA and Labor dept requirement.
IF you pre-register the cost is $25.00. (This is strongly recommended) If you don’t the cost is $30.00.   

Either way pay at the door.
This may be the last class for the GHS, especially at this low cost. If there is another GHS it wont be for 6 months or so from now, if there is one – that is, and it will be for about $40/$50 per person.”
Tell a friend.  Pass this on to your boss, he will thank you for it, so will we.
Certificates will be issued to those that complete the training.
Please email me Peter Grech for any questions or for pre-registrations at:

Executive Members


Roberto Cardona
(Tel) 718-824-8208

Director of Educational

Peter Grech
(Tel) 212-370-1052


Jenny Roach
(Tel) 646-457-2486

Director of Membership

Zoltan Papp
(Tel) 212-645-2353


Ellen Levinas
(Tel) 917-757-0913

Send a Message to the Full Board

Image courtesy of stockimages/

Questions & Answers

Question #1446: Can anybody tell the FDNY requirement or regulation for installing a electric range or stove in a space? Is exhaust system and hood needed for electric stove if the space is not considered a commerical kitchen? Where can I found this information? Thanks! Post Your Answer

Question #1445:  Where can I find training or classes for low pressure #6 boilers in NYC. Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment:  Go to our website click on education.

Question #1444: Where can I find training or classes for sprinkler systems. Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Go to our website click on education.

Question #1443: Where can I find training or classes for standpipe systems in NYC. Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment:  Go to our website click on education.

Question #1442: My fridge freezer stopped working, and then my son got a shock off a cable from a spotlight which was virtually bare and was touching the condenser at the back of my fridge. We moved the cable and the fridge is working perfectly now. Would a  live wire touching the condenser tubes cause a short circuit in my fridge???? Post Your Answer

Question #1441: The pipes in my heater burst and flooded my apartment. The landlord wants me to  pay the maintenance man, including overtime, for clearing out the water. Who is liable for the damage costs??? Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Landlord or boards are only responsible to fix the leak, and repair the damage to the physical building – sheet rock in this case. Any property damage that the tenant sustained is not responisbility of the owner. This does not mean you cant sue. Just in general renters or apt owners should have renters insurance for their apartments.

The cost of the labor to clean up the mess is a grey area. In most buildings, the staff will clean up the mess at the buildings cost and not the cost of the tenant/resident

Question #1440: Where can I find a code of ethics or conduct that a Superintendent should follow? Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: There is none out there that I know of. Some organizations for superintendents might have one. NYARM and IREM have, but they are more for management then for supers. PGrech

Question # 1439: Can I use my NYC stationary engineer license for a #6 boiler.  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Yes. However you should get the p-99. Not all inspectors will honer the stationary license – then you have to prove to FDNY and go through loops. You will win but lose time.

Question # 1438: What’s the starting pay for a black seal boiler operator? Post Your Answer

Question # 1437: I am on the board of a coop. We have 48 units and one super. A new board
member wants us to consider not renewing our contract with the Union. I think
it’s a bad idea for a variety of reasons. Do you have any insight into the
difficulties etc? Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment:It’s not a bad idea if you are going to give equal benifits and salary. Howevery union just makes payments easier to health, pension etc. IF you leave that to management then most likely it won’t be done right.

There are many pros and cons to your question. Having a union position in your building does not guarentee good workers. Not having union does not mean you will get bad ones. If you offer a fair or good salary and benifits you will get good workers. PGrech

Question # 1436: In regards to a certificate of fitness (boiler #6) in n.y.c.,I passed the
test, but never paid the $25 fee, (I went directly into another trade), a trade
school sponsored me about 2 years ago. Is it possible to pay the $25 fee, and
obtain the certificate without taking the exam over, (they did originally gives us an
amount of time) is there a time limit? Thanks. Post Your Answer

Question # 1435: How much gas pressure comes into the house from Coned? I live in New Rochelle. Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: You are going to have to re-take the exam and pay $25.00. PGrech

Answer/Comment: The gas pressure varies due to demand and where you are on the system. In most cases the pressure is a very low pressure of about 2psi. for home cooking. Same pressure for heating unless you have a large building – then the gas pressure is boosted by the building. PGrech

Question # 1434: What is NYC code regarding balconies.  Are their fines incurred for throwing
objects from balconies and what are those fines?  Is this FDNY or NYPD regulated? Post Your Answer

Question # 1433: I have been member for several yrs and I am just inquiring as to whether
possibly there may perhaps be any helpful data about the current prevailing
AVERAGE estimated cost of painting an unoccupied vacant ONE BEDROOM apt ( one
coat – no primer involved). Seeking any rough BALL PARK guess about the
approximate costs on painting a std ONE – BEDROOM apt with std bathroom &
Kitchen- Vacant unit- empty and only one coat of latex paint????Any data of
any kind most appreciated. Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Answer to cost of painting an average one bed room apartment. There is no answer. There is no average. The cost all depends on many factors. When was it last painted. Would it require two coats of paint? How much plaster/spackling is needed. etc.
Best guess is about $1600.00 to $2,000.

Question # 1432: Our multi-unit (100) midtown building has been without a super for the past three weeks due to former super’s resigning and we have no idea when a new super will be hired. Is this grounds for withholding rent? Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: No do not hold back the rent but on the other hand what you can try is to gather a few tenants and request a meeting with the board and express your concerns to them on how much you wish to see a super on the premises. In a situation like this unity and communication work best.  RCardona.

Question # 1431: I am a super in a multiple dwelling building I have 86 apartments and 5
commercial store fronts I am a full time super am I required a porter? Post Your Answer

Question # 1430: I live in N.Y., N.Y. I would like to know if there is an office that I can go to
to get a print out of the standpipe/sprinkler system of the building I work in? Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: I can’t promise you but possibly you can try the DOB dept.of buildings in downtown manhattan for the “prints” you may need a letter from the management to present requesting the building layout for your fire supression system. RCardona

Question # 1429: I live in a 72 apt. dwelling, by law is a superintendent suppose to live in the building? Or can he just leave a number to call.  Please assist, thank you.  Post Your Answer

Question # 1428: What color does the boiler room floor have to be in a multiple dwelling with a 5000 gallon tank?  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment:   Always (battle, ship Gray) with a yellow tap line, around the boiler floor safety area.  P. Craig

Question # 1427: I own small commercial build. six one bedrooms and one rest. 1st floor. I had plumber install 2 Rennai tankless hot water heaters 2 years ago. I have a lot of problems with it, no hot water often. I was told that it was not installed correctly and even it has 6 years warranty I can not replace them. Could you tell me how to find really good Rennai repair man in my neighborhood. My address is 5 Bleecker street, NYC 10012.  Post Your Answer

Question # 1426: I would like to join your association and attend the courses and some meetings. But do I have to be working in a building now or do I need prior experience too? Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: STA was formed to help those in this industry. However we do have a few members who are not in the industry, yet like our organization so the answer is yes you can become a member even if you are not in the industry or with any experience.   Pgrech

Question # 1425: I work in a building in Long Island City in New York state, and it requires a
boilers license to become the super I was offered the job but I do not know what
kind of boilers license I need????  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: There are only two types of “boiler Licesences”. One is the Number 6 heavy oil burner permit (certificate of fitness) which is common. The other one is the high pressure boiler license which is less common. Most likely you are referring to the number 6 certificate of fitness. Pgrech

Answer/Comment: If you are burning #2 and #4 oil you do not need a license. If you are burning #6 then you need a license.   M. Rivera

Question # 1424: Hi I would like to know something about my boiler licence in January 2010 this year I sent my license and a $15 dollar money order to renew my license in February I moved I changed my address with the post office and still have not received anything
and the money order was cashed. can you please tell me what can I do to receive my
license.  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: You will need to go to 9 Metro Tech in Brooklyn where the Fire Prevention unit is head quartered. That is the branch that handles the certificate of fitness. Most likely it was crossed in the mail.  Pgrech

Question # 1423: Hello I just became a super of a 67 unit residential building with a staff that consists of 24 hour doorman and one porter. NO handyman. The management is telling me that union pay for a super is around $23 an hour and this is what they are offering plus free apartment. I called 32 bj union to verify this and the union said that there is NO established pay scale or an established minimum pay rate for superintendents and
that I need to negotiate my salary with the management.  I feel that $23 an hour is a little low considering that a porter makes almost the same money. Building has central heating and cooling. Am I underpaid? Any comments much appreciated. R.B  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Underpaid or not. The union is correct in their answer. You are about boarder line of normal for that size unit. You didnt state where your location is. If you are in Manhattan you are about $2-3 dollars under the normal. If you are out of Manhattan you are about right for a starting salary. Pgrech
Question # 1422: In New Jersey, is there a requirement that the superintendent reside on the premises?  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: I am sorry I am not familiar with New Jersey codes, so I can not help you. Please if you do find out, let us know so we can know and help the next person who asks this question from NJ.   PGrech

Question # 1421: I have double hung windows and a child under ten years of age. Can I install window stoppers instead of exterior bars? If so, is there an installer or acompany that has experience with this type of installation? Thank you. Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: You can put window stoppers as you call them but they have to comply with code. Window fix can install these for you. See their add on our site or newsletter. Pgrech

Question # 1420:
 To paint exterior facade of storefront (approximately up to window of second floor), on relatively busy street, is a permit necessary. Majority of work done
with extension pole rest on ladder about 25-30 feet. Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: If you do the painting early morning while there are no persons around you don’t need a permit.  IF you are going to block the side walk for the day, you will need a permit.   Pgrech

Question # 1419: I live in the suburbs of NYC living in co-op apartments but I would like to know can the management board be held responsible for the negligence of not replacing damaged and old apartment mailboxes? what can be done?  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Only the post office can declare the boxes a violation. call the post master of your neighborhood and complain about your mail boxes.
they will do the rest. Pgrech

Question # 1418: I live in a 40 unit building. The Super is using some sort of cooling system for the building all through the year. Heat doesn’t come up and sometimes 3xs a day you’d hear and feel the steam otherwise radiators cold to the touch. This done in times temps below the 40s. I’m on 1st floor and it feels like I have anair conditioner on during cold periods! Sometimes it’s colder in my apartment than outside. In another question referring to a Down blast fan, is this what it could be? I hear a motor and it’s ran almost 24/7 and always after 11pm, heat is cut off completely after 11pm and not turned back on until the next morning at 6am. Landlords are to keep heat on between Oct. 1 – May 1?  Heat isn’t sent up until mid or late Oct. when temps dip below 47 degrees and immediately stopped as soon as the first break in weather. No heat after that point no matter how cold outside. The Landlord probably doesn’t know about fan usage amount, can it be set to less cooling temp?  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Down blast fan is used for ventilation. Seams the only issue you have is that your landlord is too cheap to give you good heat or at least heat of some sort. You need to call 311 and file a heat complaint. there are guidelines to when heat needs to be produced and circulated. I guess its too late now, but keep this in mind for this coming winter.   Pgrech

Question # 1417: Has anyone had experience converting from #6 oil to #2? Natural Gas with #2 as aback up? I interested in the cost involved, payback period if any and difficulty. Any vendor recommendations would also be helpful.  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: To get the proper numbers you are asking about you would need to hire an engineer to do the calculations. To bring in a boiler or heating company to do these for free is a hit and miss thing as they may not give you the proper numbers but only guessing. You can also call con ed or your local gas company and see if they can provide you with the payback etc numbers. Otherwise contact NYSERDA and do a full energy audit – which will only benefit your building. Pgrech

Question # 1416: I want to make myself bonded to make myself more desirable to potential
employers. How do I personally do this?  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: I have no clue – sorry. But if you do find out how, please let me know so i can provide this information to others when asked. Pgrech

Question # 1415: I am looking at buying an apartment in a brownstone. The back of the apartment looks over the garden. There is a window facing the garden and a window facing the other brownstone that looks to be less then 30 feet from that brownstone’s wall. I am trying to pull the permits from the renovation done in 1982 to see if it meets the building code. Assuming there is a permit for this work, how do I determine if it is grandfathered?  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: You would need to hire an expediter or an architect to help you with this. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Pgrech

Question # 1414: We’ve been supering several buildings in Manhattan. Over the years the owner has increased what he considers the duties of a super. Although I would assume that an owner can require whatever they want for their supers to do as a part of supering, this owner has said that he thinks that these things are a normal part of supering (and should be done for free):
1) changing electric wall switches and outlets,
2) changing faucet washers (gaskets),
3) changing door knobs and spindles.

It is not my impression that these things would be considered a normal part of
supering.  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Yes he is right, they are minor repairs and should be included in the duties of a superintendent. Just what are the duties of a super varies from building to building. It all depends if you are a full timer or part timer. Part timers would consider the above extra. Pgrech

Question # 1413: Do I need ID to get #6 super license? Post Your Answer  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Yes. to take the test at the Fire Dept you are going to need two forms of proper ID – one has to have your picture.

Answer/Comment: There is no such thing as a super licenses number six… If you mean the Certificate of Fitness from the Fire Dept of NYC for the operation of Low pressure burners using #6 oil – yes you do need two IDs – one has to have your picture on it. Also you need a letter of recommendation to sit for the exam from either a school or your employer.  Pgrech

Answer/Comment: Yes you need ID to take the test in fact you need ID to enter the metrotech building. ID is required to be carried 24 hours a day in NYC if are stopped by a police officer without ID he can bring you down to the police station until properly identified. RCardona

Question # 1412: I’m a single mother and interested in either f/p superintendent job. Are there female superintendents or am I wasting my time in searching? Thank you…  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: yes there are female Superintendents I personally have met them and had them in our org. taking courses sprinkler and standpipes and boiler #6 oil certification courses.  RCardona

Question # 1411: I am interested in obtaining a live-in-building superintendent position in the NYC area… What liscenses and certificates should I obtain for a better chance at getting the job? Thank You.  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: You are required to have 2 certifications 1) standpipe and sprinklers-2) boiler #6 oil and knowledge you may have on plumbing,electrical and carpentry would be a plus. The above certification courses are taught by us (the sta) if interested contact Peter Grech. RCardona

Question # 1410: 
Do I need ID to get #6 super license? If so, How Many ID’s?  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: You must supply a picture ID such as a drivers license or non drivers license.

Question # 1409: I have been super for a “difficult” landlord for more than a year. After hurting my back moving a stove down 6 flights of stairs, I asked them to go easy and give me a few days to heal. I continued doing all my regular work, but they wanted me to demo, renovate and retile a bathroom. I didn’t refuse but wanted to do it the easy way. They said if I couldn’t do my job they would find someone else. I still didnt refuse but have since been terminated and told to vacate my apartment. What are my rights in this case?  Post Your Answer
Answer/Comment: Consult a lawyer and tell them you hurt your back while on the job and now you are being fired b/c you asked for time off! you’ll have to go down the hard road but I’m sure your landlord will learn a lot in the process! Sam

Question # 1408: I’m a non-union super in NYC. Is it possible to bring the union to my job and how would that benefit me?  Post Your Answer
Answer/Comment: You need to contact the union for this question to be properly answered. STA is not a union or do we have any union affiliations. Call Local 32BJ with this kind of question. .  Pgrech

Question # 1407: Do I need a license to operate a low pressure boiler in NYC?  It’s no.2 oil. Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: There are three types of “boiler licenses” in NYC.
1. is a low pressure heavy oil (#6) by the NYC Fire Dept, 2. Is for heavy oil (#6) by DEP, 3. Is a High pressure boiler license for boilers that operate at a steam pressure over 15 psi.
#2 oil does not require any operator license. Pgrech

Question # 1406: How do I obtain a Residential Building (Super) Certificate?  Post Your Answer
Answer/Comment: There is no “Residential Building (Super) Certificate” There are a few organizations that have their own certifications. One being from HPD. Call 311 and ask for the phone number of HPD educational services. I think this is the one you are asking about.

Question # 1405:
 I recently moved into an apartment where the washer dryer unit abutts the boiler to the point of almost touching. The vent and hooks ups are behind the boiler. I
can’t imagine how the boiler can be serviced if need be. Is there a code violation here? who can I contact to find out? – Thanks Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: There is no code preventing this as long as the dryer vent is NOT vented into the chimney of the boiler. As far as service, the dry would be moved to allow servicing if it was in the way then moved back. You can call the Dept of Buildings who would be the agency responsible for this.

Question # 1404: what is the link where I can find the study guide for the nyc oil burning equipment license exam? Is there a study book? I need assistance to study for this exam. Thanks Post Your Answer Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Call information and get the phone number for 9 Metrotech center in Brooklyn or go there in person. They will give you official NYFD study material that will best prepare you for your test, best, Jim. JCoffey

Question # 1403: 
As per a boiler inspection in one of the buildings I work with, they said a ratings plate was needed for the boiler. Anyone have any idea how I would go about this? It’s a Peerless boiler.  Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: You would need a boiler repair company to get you the plate or from the manufacturer. This plate is common on all boilers.

Question # 1402: I was wondering how the banging noise in radiators is created and how can I fix that problem. I work in a building with over 100 apts. and many of them have this problem what is the solution to this problem??? Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: Firstly, Is it a one or two pipe system? In a one pipe system generally something as simple as an air valve or a bad pitch on the radiator can cause banging. Air valves are rated with a number (size releaf hole) and you should generally replace it with the same number air valve to maintain balance of the system. To fix the pitch problem put a level on top of the radiator and make sure its pitched slightly towards the steam inlet pipe, you can use wood shims under the legs to adjust the pitch. In older buildings floors tend to sag or tilt throwing off the proper pitch of the radiator. Finally, check the inlet valve to make sure its FULL open. Some tenants try to adjust their own heat by tinkering with the inlet valve. On a two pipe system the culprit could be pitch or partial valve closure but more often than not its a trap or trap element. Trap elements are fairly simple to replace. Ideally if you have an infrared temperature gun you can check the temp in and out of the trap to see if its shot. Usually two pipe convectors are wall mounted with metal brackets. You can bend the brackets slightly to adjust pitch or shim them with metal to pitch towards the trap.

A common name for the banging is water hammer. It is caused when condensed steam cannot escape or escape quickly enough and new steam hits it – Bang bang JCofffey

Answer/Comment: The banging is from water and steam making contact. This is usually caused by thermostatic elements in the traps that require replacement. This element, when it fails, allows steam rather than water to return in the condensate return line. MRuperti

Answer/Comment: Banging radiators is a very common problem. However the solution is not straightforward. The hammer is caused by steam running into water either in the radiator or the piping. It is a system problem and to solve it takes a lot of time looking at how the water and steam flow into and out of each radiator. It also depends on if you have a one pipe or two pipe system. One easy quick thing you can do is reduce your steam pressure, which is a good idea for any steam heating system. Other than than, you need to call in a professional that can identify the causes of the hammer and give you ways to fix it…JLambert

Question # 1401: In New York city, can a Landlord enter a sealed apartment for maintenance?  Post Your Answer

Question # 1400: I live in a co-op. The superintendent removed my refrigerator from outside my door apartment to garbage with no notice. (I left it there for 2 days until my kitchen was fixed). Does the management can disposal my refrigerator without a notice? Post Your Answer

Answer/Comment: The common area of the building cannot be used for personal storage. It is a fire code violation therefore a violation of your proprietory lease. But, in your defense the Super or the managing agent should have sent you a notification giving you an opportunity to resolve the problem. MRuperti

Answer/Comment: It would have been nice if the super asked who this belongs too, as well it would have been nicer to ask permission to leave it there.
Items left out – are deemed a fire hazard as the block or restrict the escape path. This is a violation and usually is dealt with fast. Also note any left outside your apartment is deemed abandon. Pgrech

For archived questions please click here:  Archives

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles /

For Immediate Release…


Building Maintenance Certifications Helps to “Maintain” Sanity and Jobs!

New York, New York – [February 17, 2012] – The Superintendents Technical Association, a non-for-profit organization is going over and above by offering expert educational and certification classes so that building maintenance workers, resident managers, porters, handymen and more can “maintain” their sanity and their jobs with a bit more ease than ever before.  Building Managers will be extremely grateful!

If you want to become a professional in maintaining your building, then the BST 301 is a class that should be taken. BST 301 is a class in a series of classes for certification; however, if someone is only interested in this class, other classes are not needed, as the classes are all designed to stand alone. Even if someone did not take a BST 201 class; for example, they can still take the BST 301.

BST 301 will focus and teach about routine maintenance, preventive and predictive maintenance, how to schedule, inspect and carry out maintenance on most building mechanical systems – whether it is a pre-war building or a more modern building, as well as, expected life on equipment, what, where, and when to perform maintenance on equipment, what to look for, and what to use on performing the maintenance.

This class will also help individuals/buildings develop a budget, do a building assessment on equipment, and create logs for inspections and maintenance. “Make no mistake there is no other class that comes close to this one.”  Peter Grech, Director of Education. The Superintendents Technical Association,

Classes begin on Feb 23, 2012, and are 18 total hours. You can register on line now, by phone, or in person after Monday Feb 23. Seating is limited to 16 people.

Founded in 1998 The Superintendents Technical Association, formerly known as the Superintendents Club of New York, has been a non-profit technical society from its inception, working to educate and professionalize building superintendents, resident managers, handy-persons, porters, and other multifamily building operating, support and maintenance personnel.


For additional information contact:

Peter Grech, Director of Education




Government Resources


Industry Associations


  • Community Housing Improvement Program


Supers and “Supering”



“Wear the old coat and buy the new book.” -Austin Phelps

There are those grasping souls who, no matter how much they have, want more. And will do whatever conniving and deceiving they must do to get it. To them, how they get it is unimportant. It’s all in the possessing. Well, also in the flaunting. But flaunting is a whole ‘nother story.

You know the type? Lots of stuff is good. Cheap is bad — but inexpensive, now that’s getting religion. Getting it free is like finding out that getting religion will also make you smart, beautiful, famous AND rich. And getting over on someone to get it for free, well, that’s nirvana wrapped in heaven inside of Shangri-la. We all know someone like this. There are some such souls in our fair city, sad to say. In the upper west side luxury condo where I live and work, they bought and moved into Apt. 8D many years before I was hired as the super.

Now, to me at least, there are degrees. If a very poor person is seen grabbing and grasping, motivated by need more than greed, by wanting to better his life and that of his family, well, that’s one thing. But to see a human – who already has everything – want still more, not even allowing him/herself to be on familiar terms with the fact that he already has more than he needs… that’s another story altogether. Here’s one such short story:

I was taking my afternoon coffee one day about a year ago, when my doorman called me to say there was an emergency in 8D. She was yelling into the phone all high-pitched and scared and nervous: “Tell the super to come up here right away, my diamond wedding ring fell down the drain and I want it back immediately.”

Well, this day was beginning to look like it just might have an upside. A five minute job AND a nice healthy tip was almost assured. AND, I might possibly be up for hero of the year for a change (supers don’t get that enough). I went up when my break was over, separated the plumbing under the bath vanity, and poured the water into a container.

No diamond ring in sight. Suddenly, the under-sink plumbing I was holding in my hand had DISASTER stamped all over each piece in big scary lettering.

She was too upset to stand there and watch, but Slippery Finger’s husband was keeping his evil, ah, make that eagle eye on the proceedings. We were both stunned about where the ring was not. Mr. Slippery called Mrs. into the bathroom, and we both queried her about running water AFTER the ring had slipped off her finger. Definitely not, she said. She had made sure that after the ring had slipped off, she shut the faucet immediately and called for help.

Momentarily I didn’t know what to do. I had heard rumors about these nice people, under whose grand hospitality I was now pinned, but being new to the building I had no actual experience to explain that hairy feeling forming in the pit of my stomach. They had been suspected of staging incidents before (at least one of which involved a former employee and expensive jewelry), and this was starting to take on the look and feel of one of those. I unholstered my flashlight and peered down the drain with concentration to summon the plumbing gods. There appeared to be something hanging there, on the stopper lever, but I couldn’t be sure, and from my angle I could NOT see a diamond.

I asked Mr. Slippery for a wire hanger, and sweated through opening it up, wondering what good could come of this incident (or was it accident), and was I really as screwed as I was starting to feel? As I started probing the drain with the wire, I heard the unmistakable plunk of metal against plastic, of a heavy diamond ring hitting the bottom of the green plastic bucket below. Oh yes, it WAS going to be a good day after all. Ms. Slippery Ring Finger chirped and gasped loudly in recognition, as if to say, “That’s it, that’s it! I’ve heard that sound before!”

It had been there all along, having somehow hung itself, waiting for light persuasion from my wire poke before giving itself up. I was concurrently wiping the sweat off my forehead and saying a prayer of thanks for not getting the blame for inadvertently disposing of (or worse, stealing) a very expensive diamond ring, and all the while plotting how I could get out of there as fast as possible, when the husband stuffed $50 in bills into my hand. Hey now. Not only was I the hero of the story for a change, but I got some nice change to boot.

Before escaping, I commented on how beautifully the bathroom had turned out – new vanity, new mirrors, new tiles on the floor and wall – it looked GORGEOUS, and expensive. They both thanked me and smiled, Yes, they were very happy; the work had been completed just days before.

“Money can’t buy friends, but it can get you a better class of enemy.”  — Spike Milligan

Three days later, the contractor who had just completed that tile work in 8D stopped by the building. He looked very irritated and frustrated, like he had just wakened with a sour stomach. “I thought you were finished here –what happened?” I asked him. “They told me yesterday that they don’t like the tile, that it’s uneven in color and installed poorly, and they want something done about it,” he said with a frustrated frown.

I was shocked. SHOCKED! Aside from the obvious (they HAD said, had they not, that they JUST LOVED the work – or had I dreamt it?), which caused my initial stunned astonishment, I couldn’t help but think: Why is it that anyone bids on, and accepts, a job in ANY building in this City without speaking to the super first? Who knows better than the super (and of course other staff who have prime contact with residents) whether or not the person or persons they will be spending lots of effort and time with – many thousands of dollars over many months in most cases, sometimes even millions of dollars and more than a year in others — is honest, a good business person, above board, and will pay the bill at the end?

There has been much drivel written in magazine articles and books – okay, some of it good — about finding a good contractor, much less about finding a good client. But a contractor could help himself and his sour stomach many times over by asking a few pointed questions of relatively disinterested parties (the super, the doormen, the handyman maybe?). In this case, if he had asked me, I would have told him to run — not walk — away from this particular potential client.

He never gave himself a running chance.