At my old apartment building, my landlord was around all the time. He liked to keep busy. He may have been a bit overly present, in fact, seeing as how he didn't live in the building. However,as a result of his constant puttering, things were tidy without my thinking much about it. Not so, the new building. For one thing, it is run by a management company who didn't even come back to take their "For Rent" sign down after the available unit had long since been occupied. Clearly, they couldn't care less about the state of our front stairs (or the terrifying back yard, which is another story). For another thing, the exterior bits of the property are basically filthy. The back stairs are covered year-round by various plant matter from the neighboring yard, which is at a higher elevation--the better for showering leaves down upon us in every gust of wind (of which there are a great many). The sidewalk in front of the building, the entryway, and front stairs, are blasted daily with dirt and detritus that, once it has blown into the corner by the garage or into the gated passageway, is trapped there forever. In short (as though it were not far, far too late for that), there is a lot of sweeping required. There were two options: A) ignore the need for sweeping (because it is not, technically, MY responsibility) and live in squalor or B) be my father's daughter and, if sweeping is clearly required, just do the damn sweeping.

I chose B. I have found that it is surprisingly satisfying to sweep. It is fairly easy and yet makes a marked and immediate difference (unlike vacuuming for instance, which I know makes a difference, but one that I can not easily detect without crouching on the floor to admire up-close its post-vacuuming hairlessness [I shed like mad]). Besides, with the sweeping, I get to feel all Civic Minded and Neighborly. Once, in a particularly leafy, windy time, I even swept the sidewalk in front of the neighboring building. I expect to get a cookie in the afterlife.

I keep my broom just inside my garage door for easy sidewalk access. One day, upon returning from work, I found that the broom had been moved to a far less convenient corner and, perhaps even more mysteriously, that about two inches of its previously relatively pristine bristles had been stained black. I was very puzzled, since the garage is locked and I am the only one who has access to it, but I thought maybe I had done some sleep-sweeping or something. Who knows? Better not to dwell. Fast forward a few weeks. I was home sick and I heard someone open my garage. When I went to investigate, I found that the plumbers were working to deal with some kind of back-up in the drain in my neighbor's garage. I left them to it.

During the time of my fairly lengthy indisposition, the trash/dirt collection in the walkway became very condemned-building-esque, such that entering the building became a rather hopeless, depressing affair. Pulling the car into the driveway after work one night, I told myself that the gritty urban despair vibe had gone on long enough and that I might as well just sweep the entryway while I was already down there. And [cue ominous organ music]...the broom was gone! Gone, I tell you! The plumbers were clearly the culprits. They must have come on more than one occasion--the first time they used my poor broom to sweep drain sludge (egads!) and then put it in the Wrong Place. The second time, they either utterly destroyed it with further drain sludge and took it away for disposal OR they had grown so fond of it, they simply couldn't bear to part with it. In either case: vexing.

I called the management company to tell them my sad story and ask for restitution. They asked me to put it in writing and specify the amount of the reimbursement. This meant I had to purchase a new broom before I could send the letter and last week I found that I had no time to purchase a broom. I did try on Friday, but the brooms available at the hardware store I visited were strangely enormous and unless they came with Fantasia-style enchantments, seemed that they would quickly exhaust the sweeper. Particularly if the sweeper had no upper-body strength to speak of. Finally, finally on Saturday afternoon I went to a different hardware store, bought a broom of reasonable size, and returned home to address the now entirely deplorable entryway (seriously. The Blog Bully told me that he had noticed it in passing one day and considered going home to fetch his own broom to deal with it). As I was sweeping, my neighbors came downstairs and were quite surprised and grateful to find me cleaning a common area. I said that I was happy to do it and, indeed, would have done it sooner had it not been for the rascally plumbers who had stolen my broom from my own garage. "Who stole it?" asked the neighbor. "The plumbers, I think." I said. "Well, that's weird because there's a broom in our garage and we have no idea where it came from." "Does it have a blue handle?" "It has a blue handle."

And that, readers, is how I came to own two brooms, the more recent of which I can neither return nor can I, ethically, request reimbursement for it now that the other has been found.

On the bright side, the walkway is looking good.

Tomorrow: hoses!