Rules without Relationships

By Thomas Kochman - 01.25.2014

Rachel Snyder learned an important lesson from her experience as resident manager of an apartment building, which she writes about in her article, “How you doing, baby?”

As she describes it, “I was fresh out of grad school and thrilled, as a writer, to have free rent. My visible job was to clean the building, show apartments, escort workmen and circulate rent notices; the invisible part was to create community among different races, different economic scales, different cultures.

Eventually, I would hold potlucks at my apartment, plan camping trips, create a laundry-room library and plant a communal herb garden. But this was my first week on the job and one of my first calls to a tenant. All I knew was that she was twice my age and had lived in the building for more than 10 years.

“I was calling to ask her to remove several garbage bags sitting on her back deck. This was a building violation, but that mattered little to me. What did matter was that garbage attracted vermin — specifically rats, mice and possums — and I was masking my blind terror of possums in the convenient bureaucracy of ‘building rules and regulations.’ I had already had a run-in with a beady-eyed possum on a back porch one night. The possum was of that unsettling urban variety, too tough for mere humans. It casually sauntered away. Read more »