I live in a brownstone in the Upper West Side, and for the past couple of years, there’s been a neighbor of mine who sits on our front steps and smokes cigars. First of all, I find the whole idea of sitting on someone else’s steps to be both rude and irritating. Surely if this was a neighborhood in the suburbs, I wouldn’t walk over to my neighbors house and sit on their front porch and make myself at home. From what I can gather, I’m fighting a losing battle, because it seems like it’s quite customary in New York City.
Since I’ve moved into my apartment, I’ve come home to a filthy starircase littered with cigar ashes and bits. It’s like a child who makes a mess and waits for his mommy to come clean up after him. While I have encountered this neighbor on several occasions, I never had the courage to address my annoyance until this afternoon when I came home from work. He sat there all wide-eyed, glaring down at his iPod as he sucked on his giant, smelly cigar, and ashed carelessly on my steps, a heaping pile already forming at his feet.
I asked, “Do you plan on cleaning up after yourself today?” He seemed dumbfounded that I had the audacity to ask him such a rude questions. “Uh, do I plan on cleaning up after myself,” he inquired, “Uh, no I don’t.”
I could immediately tell that this was the kind of person who prided himself on being a New York tough guy. He stood up and told me he didn’t like the way I was talking to him. I told him I didn’t care. He replied that I should “mind my f’n business and take it up with the owner.” I am minding my own business. Unfortunately, you have chosen to sit on my front steps and smoke that smelly thing and not clean up after yourself. He claimed that I didn’t own the building and that he lives next door, so that should be reason for him to be allowed to do whatever he pleases. Um, excuse me you inconsiderate bastard, but I pay quite a lot of money to live in this apartment and I shouldn’t have to be subjected to this disgusting habit of yours everyday. Go smoke on your own front steps.
We exchanged a few more barbs before I went up to my apartment. When I came back downstairs to take out the recycling, he was no longer sitting on my front steps, rather he was standing on the curb talking to some woman.
Here’s the thing, I know that New Yorkers like to sit on other people’s front steps like they are relaxing on a park bench, but I find it frustrating. I called my landlord tonight and emailed them and am awaiting a reply. He’s been asked several times by our super not to sit on our steps, yet he continues to do so. Any thoughts on how I should proceed?
Boris Knott replies-One solution that comes to mind is to provide an ashtray.