I wrote this with the idea in mind that I would write a story that only asked questions. I always felt that one question leads into another and another. It was really fun doing this and I definitely feel like there’s enough of a story/plot for the reader to pick up on. I’ll let you guys be the judge.
We have a few questions for you, but only if you’re willing to answer all of them.
What happens to us after our building is gutted from the inside out? is it true that we’ll be relocated to a cheap hotel filled with rats and bed bugs? Are proper protocols being followed to ensure our temporary stay is as pleasant as it could be? This is a temporary stay, right? And what about the rent? We already pay much more than we can afford, and other neighborhoods and landlords are following this closely, prepared to follow your lead if the opportunity arises, so will we be getting some kind of discount as compensation?
Why did we have to move in the first place? Wasn’t it deemed safe by independent contractors for the repairs to go forward without us leaving? Who did you pay off and how much did you give them? Is it because this is one of the last rent-stabilized buildings left on the block, and the only way to get us out was by creating a false problem with the water pipes and delay our return indefinitely? Will you admit that this was a set-up?
How did you get the city to turn their heads away? Do you really think you could get away with this? Do you really think the families who’ve lived off Steinway for generations won’t tell everyone they know to avoid you? You do know every news station is watching your every move, documenting the smirk you’re trying to hide? Did you really think our voices wouldn’t be heard? What’s your take on bad publicity?
When the work is complete, will you provide us with a means to get all of our — well, what’s left of our stuff after the pipes that never had an issue before suddenly burst and destroyed almost all of our most cherished belongings? You will let us back in, right? Can you give us an estimate on how long it will take? Do you know the average time spent on any given construction project in New York City? Do you see the endless scaffolding taking over the streets? Are you really okay with seeing nothing but Starbucks and cupcake shops and banks on every block? Do you think we will ever live in a city where there’s no construction? Do you care? When was the last time you were truly happy?
So what you’re telling us is that you’ll give us updates whenever you see fit? You’ve sat in that chair on multiple occasions, so none of this should be new to you, correct? Why should we trust you? Where have you been the past fifteen years? Why do you only show up after these “unfortunate incidences”? Is this your way of punishing yourself?
Have you walked the halls? Do you smell the garbage? When are you going to hire someone to fix the elevator? You know Mr. Diaz isn’t getting younger, right? Do you think it’s easy for his wife and sister to keep the wheelchair from falling down the four flights of stairs? What will happen when they are as old and frail as him? Will you hire someone to remove their bodies, or will you let them rot until we can’t take it anymore? Can you look us in the eyes and tell us it’s safe? Would you let your mother use the elevator, or is she the source of evil, and you’d throw her down the elevator shaft yourself as a final act of revenge? Does she know the elevators get stuck in between floors, and if we tried to escape on our own, we’d risk being cut in half?
When we’re no longer around — please, don’t act surprised for the cameras; they see through those snake eyes of yours — are you going to treat your new, rich tenants the same way? Is money really the deciding factor on who you give a damn about? Do you really think millionaires and spoiled Long Island children will let you walk all over them?
We have one last question, but it’s not for you or our president, who made his living pioneering the cut-throat, selfish, hardly-legal standards of being a successful landlord in New York City. Congress, Your Honor, the media, friends, family: Are you going to prove us right or wrong?