Service of Wacky Things People Do

May 14th, 2018

Categories: Apartment Living, Following Instructions, Post Office, Scams, Theft


In quick succession I became aware of some screwy things people do–mild in comparison to what is happening in the photo above.

Homemade Floods


The note slipped under our door at the high-rise we live in warned that the water would be turned off the next day from 9 to 5 and to please make sure “when leaving the unit to turn off all the faucets.”

I asked the morning doorman, who has worked at the building for decades, about the reason for that odd faucet request. He said that when learning of a water shutdown some of the tenants turn on all their faucets before leaving for work. Then he smiled and shrugged.

We’ll Learn to Read Next Week

I was waiting for a test at a doctor’s office in a cubby-size space in which patients change to a hospital gown and wait their turn. I was pacing and couldn’t help notice the giant sign on a hamper to hold used gowns [photo, left] and a few steps away, a trash can. On closer inspection, I saw trash in the gown hamper. The garbage can was empty.

Don’t Look Now

Did the person installing the Vanderbilt Ave. detour sign [photo below, right] bother to look at the direction of the traffic? In addition, this sign is right off First Avenue, blocks and blocks away from Vanderbilt Avenue. I feel very sorry for out of towners driving in NYC.

Sticky Mail Boxes

Some unscrupulous people fish for mail.

Lindsay Gellman wrote “Sticky Fingers Fishing” in The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town.” In it she identified the “most pressing crisis” for the USPS, noting that it’s not what the president identified: He blamed Amazon for using the service as its “delivery boy.”

People are stealing credit cards, checks, cash, gift cards and money orders from mail boxes using a low tech method. They put rat glue on a small juice bottle and tie a shoelace to its neck, creating a mail fishing device. Phil Bartlett, in charge of the postal service’s New York inspection division, shared how the thieves transform checks to reissue them to someone else. He told Gellman: “There’s products out there, things like Ink Away, or sometimes nail-polish remover. Or they soak them in a solution containing brake fluid.” Or they take bank and account numbers from checks and make counterfeit ones.

The post office’s solution is to replace or retrofit the 7,000 traditional mailboxes in and around NYC with ones with thin slits [photo below]. I haven’t seen anyone fish for mail, but I imagine they do it late at night.

Have you observed or read about any wacky things that people do?


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6 Responses to “Service of Wacky Things People Do”

  1. EAM Said:
    Early May, Montclair had vandals stealing mail and damaging mailboxes. It gives me pause whether or not to continue to use the boxes when sending a check.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’ll say! Although if you’re going to steal mail, what better place than in an upscale neighborhood such as Montclair! Sigh.

    Such activity will impact people sending cash or gift cards in birthday greetings until the new and retrofit boxes with slits are installed all over. As always, the public is inconvenienced by crooks. You never could mail very thick pieces in the street boxes but a bit thicker than the slits allow.

  3. Protius Said:

    Sometimes whacky ideas can cause real and expensive problems.

    Whatever caused Donald Trump to want to build a wall between Mexico and the US and have Mexico pay for it, I don’t know. Perhaps it was the temptation of ginning up a fat, juicy construction contract for his real estate development company? Who knows, but that grand pappy of nutty ideas sure had legs … People are still talking about it. And worse, they are still spending time and money on it.

    Nutty ideas may give us a chuckle here and there, but they can turn out to be costly.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You picked a great example. Often wacky ideas come up when someone hasn’t thought through a situation. Taking your wall as an example, technology to view the borders between the U.S. and Mexico would prove less expensive to build and maintain and eventually to upgrade than a wall. But the image of a wall sounds more dramatic and the gullible ears that welcome the idea perpetuate a nutty notion.

    It’s easy to lie about a wall, too. I think there’s an existing wall between San Diego and Mexico that’s being repaired. Images of it have been used by the president to illustrate how the project is progressing. But it’s not: workers are merely fixing a wall that’s already there.

    What a shame that we’re not spending as much time and energy trying to work together with our neighbors for mutual benefit.

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    Having attended an insane Condo meeting in the building where I live I am frazzled but can add information about this topic: insanity.

    Our “Security” is provided by a “Concierge” firm called Tillinger’s which I just learned miserably underpays their employees who work for our building. Our Board passed the following rule within the last year or two. Unit owners or renters who do not treat the employees in that service with what the Board deems appropriate behavior may be subject to fines! The Building Manager considers this necessary because an owner (employer) or renter might harass or speak in a “disrespectful” or unfair way to an employee at the service desk.
    I stated that it was management’s responsibility to oversee such matters and that if the employee felt menaced with violent behavior outside authority was needed, such as the police who should be called.

    An owner objected to receiving $100.00 fines on 2 occasions because she complained about noise or other matters. The “Concierge” insulted her and swore at her. The interaction may have become even more verbally nasty. On both occasions a Trustee fined the woman $100.00.
    I have never heard of such rules or goings on. I believe that Management’s responsibilities include training, oversight, labor relations, and meeting observing anti-discrimination laws and respecting civil liberties. However, neither discrimination of any violation of the employee’s civil rights were involved. In both cases a passing Trustee decided to impose an arbitrary fine on the Unit owner.

    The Manager is neither trained nor experienced in such a position, nor does he accept responsibility. Last night in a scene the likes of which I have never experienced even as an interpreter for law enforcement, the husband of the outgoing President of the Board had to be separated and restrained since he threatened the woman protesting the failure to acknowledge her request for removal of the fines. At least 2 of the Board Members have behaved in a threatening fashion to fellow owners. They issued rules which are discriminatory and of course have a Trumpesque notion of truth. Strange as it may sound the condo is neither a Trump nor a Kushner property and not even located in D.C or on the grounds of the White House.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Wow! What a story! And I thought the tenants in my building were nuts for leaving on their faucets potentially creating a flood to ruin their floors, carpets and rugs and the walls and floors below.

    It sounds as though the board is looking for ways to rake in extra money if a tenant–whether owner or renter–can’t ask for staff support about an offending fellow tenant or some other complaint typical of the situations we find ourselves when living like sardines one on top of the other.

    How scary to see a tenant threaten another tenant with physical force! I once lived in a small co-op and some of the board members were nasty. They whipped others verbally but didn’t have to be restrained. Elevator rides must be uncomfortable. They were for me when I was sued by two other tenants when the coupling on my washing machine uncoupled causing a bad flood in my kitchen in the middle of the night. The water traveled two floors down. The president of that co-op asked the others to submit their damages to their insurance companies but they refused. [We had done that the year before when workers in our upstairs neighbor’s apartment left water running in the kitchen sink. We had to cover the insurance deductible but in the interest of being neighborly, did so without complaint.] There was a bit of what you call a Trumpesque attitude by the two who were suing me–they were looking for big bucks and total remodeling of spaces that weren’t that damaged. My husband knew one of the tenants for 30+ years at the time–in fact, they introduced us! We moved out once we sold the apartment and haven’t spoken with them since. Oh, and my wonderful insurance company covered their so-called damages.

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