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Superwoman Hits Turbulence

“There are hardly any of us, now I know why,” explained Ms. X, the super at a 61-unit co-op on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. “When I go to the technical meetings, I’m the only woman.”

She was hired by the board more than a dozen years ago, her husband the president of the building’s management company, Advanced Management Services. It wasn’t the likeliest fit.  At 5 feet 2 inches, and 130 pounds Ms. X, a former math teacher from Colombia, isn’t your typical superintendent.

“The bags of garbage were so heavy, I hired an outside helper, and paid him out of my own pocket.”

Residents weren’t sure what to make of her. “There were issues from the start,” according to one resident who recently served on the board for six months and then resigned because he couldn’t stand it.  “But the larger problem was that the board changed all the time. And every time there was an election, the new board tossed out everything  the old board did, and wanted to do things its way so the super never knew what she was supposed to be doing.”

But things really started getting messy last October. Ms. X says the board hired a contractor from Florida who lacked the proper license and  insurance, but was a friend of a prior board member.   She says he came downstairs and verbally abused her so she called the police.

Then the board president’s apartment was robbed. Ms. X says she was called to come to the apartment, except on the way there she was intercepted by two policemen who took her to  the station, where they confiscated her cell phone and keys, and finger printed her like a criminal on Law and Order.

“I felt like a prisoner,” Ms X recalled, the incident still rankling. “They held me for more than four hours. I mean, I’m 5 feet 2. How could I carry a TV down the fire escape? But because I held the keys, they blamed me.”

The case was closed a week later, without anyone being implicated, pilfered televisions apparently being one of the pitfalls of living in the Big City. But tensions mounted on Eastern Parkway.

Ms. X said the board insisted she sign a contract though she had never had one for all the years she’d been there, and a letter agreeing not to use the outside garbage helper.  She refused.

Ms. X says the board insisted she return all the keys to them, but instead she went round the building and gave shareholders their keys in person,  getting a written receipt from each.

On vacation for a week, she came back to such a mound of garbage in the basement that she says she wrenched her back lifting it. She made a workers compensation claim for her injured back.  The building brought in an outside cleaner, who she claims is non union, though she’s a member of the union. Ms X says she was fired by the husband who previously had hired her. She believes it’s the latest salvo in their ongoing divorce proceedings.

Then shareholders finally got in on the act, calling for a special meeting to find out why Ms. X was fired.  Only apparently they didn’t really find out anything, and now former superwoman is living in the super’s rent free apartment, and the stand in super is living on the outside and there’s a Mexican standoff.

So who’s got the next move? — superwoman, the board, or the shareholders?




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