Let The Wrong One In

There is a saying about being lazy and it goes something like, "lazy people work twice as hard". (For the record, I never understood that adage as the definition of a lazy person is literally someone who doesn't work, so if they work twice as hard, how can they be lazy?) I never considered myself lazy until the intercom in my apartment broke and I was forced to descend 4 flights of stairs each time someone decided to play a little game I like to call "Who's Home?" It's a game wherein anyone who needs a signature for a package or wants a petition signed pretends they're a chimpanzee pressing buttons for their food in a lab experiment.

On this particular Saturday morning at nine o'clock, the delightful chime of my door buzzer alerted me that someone was downstairs. My friends know to call directly to my cellphone so I assumed it was a delivery for a book I had recently ordered. I happily pressed the button opening the front door to my building and threw on a pair of pants as I am sure no delivery person needs to see me pantless on a Saturday morning. A few minutes went by and no one knocked on my door. My mind rationalized that it was probably someone who forgot their keys and was hoping one of their neighbors would rather have a murderer in the building than walk down four flights. Out of curiosity, I stuck my head into the hallway to listen for gunshots or screams, but instead was treated to something much more horrifying. Through the echoey din of the stairwell I heard the words that sent panic coursing through my body: "Excuse me, have you read our magazine, The Watchtower?"

I don't know a lot of my neighbors, but I have watched them release a torrent of passive aggressive abuse on people in the building that would make most of our mothers look on in horror. I have seen memos taped up in the hallway with objective pronouns clearly pointed at that guy in 3-F who didn't recycle and passing comments like "Hey, you're that guy who listens to Tori Amos really loud all night" and "Wow, you and your boyfriend really like loud sex". If they found out I let some Jehovah's Witnesses into the building because I couldn't muster the energy to let someone in personally, I can't imagine memo taped up next to our mailboxes with particular phrases underlined for added affect pointed specifically at me.

I quickly threw on my shoes and ran downstairs where two well-dressed and middle aged women were hovering in front of an open door. An attractive young woman stared, wide-eyed at the pair as they asked her if was interested in saving her soul. I interjected, trying to repair the damage I had inflicted on my hapless co-inhabitants. "Excuse me! I'm sorry, you rang my bell and I thought you were someone else. You're going to have to leave the building." The two Jehovah's Witnesses stared at me as though I had grown horns and was now poking them with a pitchfork. They responded with the calm assurance of talking to someone already in hell. Our rather calm, but heated, discussion began to draw others from their apartments like curious woodland creatures checking to see which of their friends was shot.

Finally I walked the two out of the building and as I walked back to my apartment one of my neighbors confronted me and said "Dude, you got to come down and let people in. That's not cool." No. It was not cool. But what was even less cool was that same day someone had put a label on my buzzer by the front door which simply read "Broken". (I've always wondered if the people who created label makers ever realized the passive aggressive uses for which it would be employed on the population.) I was about to remove the label and thought better of it. I agreed to accept this as punishment for being a terrible neighbor. On my way back upstairs I picked up a copy of The Watchtower the women had left in the lobby and read it cover to cover as penance for Sloth.

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