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The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: July 25, 2012

Submitted by on July 25, 2012 – 4:15 PM8 Comments

I live in a large apartment building that has two washers and two dryers downstairs in the laundry room. Today, one of the washing machines ate my quarters and jammed without starting up the load. I’d had the exact number of quarters I needed, and my laundry was already soapy because I’d added the detergent before putting in the change. A broken hot water pipe in the basement had prevented everyone from doing their laundry earlier in the day, so by the time the machine jammed, the bank-slash-quarter-dispensary was far away and closing fast.

I was already on edge because of some unusually extreme stresses, but this pushed me over. I called our building manager and left a not-very-nice voicemail, ending with the request that I get a refund for the two bucks eaten by the machine. After a few minutes, I realized how inappropriate this was (it wasn’t the guy’s fault the machine jammed, after all) so I called back and left another message apologizing. I said that my tone was totally out of line, and admitted that it was “bitchy” to ask for a refund.

I know it’s entirely possible that he noticed I’d called again and simply deleted the second voicemail; do you think I ought to send him a letter or email of apology as well? I feel really embarrassed, because I’ve never done anything like this before (and can’t believe it happened over a busted washing machine).

Thanks for your time,

Sorry Soaper

Dear Soap,

It wouldn’t hurt; nor is it necessary. You reacted somewhat ungraciously to the situation, but you’ve already apologized, and the manager probably did hear that voicemail. Try to forgive yourself and let it go.

In the interests of doing that, keep in mind that that is almost certainly not the most abusive or assholic tenant interaction the building manager had that day. It doesn’t excuse your tone, but the average super is used to residents freaking shit on him/her about roaches or plumbing fails or OMG my doorknob came off and I’m trapped in here aieee or whatever the hell. That’s the job.

Again, a reason isn’t an excuse, blah blah — but a good friend of mine manages a building, and if anyone ever left him a follow-up voicemail saying “sorry,” he’d swoon from the shock. The next time you run into the manager, you could reiterate that you’d had a bad day and you regret kicking your shit downhill. Other than that, you’re good.




  • Isis Uptown says:

    My husband manages a building. He listens to all of the messages (many of the tenants are Indian and tend to put “Mister” in front of his name, so we refer to call from tenants as “Mister ___” calls). So, your super heard your second message, and probably appreciated it.

  • Jenn says:

    Only two washers and dryers? He deserved it.

    Just kidding. I would stop in and apologize when you can. Plus, it’ll give you the chance to follow up in person. And the next time you need something, he’ll remember you as the nice person who came in to apologize, and maybe he’ll get you what you need sooner.

    We use a special debit card for the washers and dryers in my building, so this is never an issue. Plus you don’t have to hoard quarters.

  • Jesse says:

    But you should still get your two bucks back!

    I speak as someone whose building dryer has been generally not working for months now, but I keep hoping it will work, so I end up washing my stuff and then having to air dry it all over my apartment.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    The fact you apologized made his week, I promise. He probably told his freinds about it. You don’t have to apologize again.

  • Kim says:

    Yes, fret not. While I was never a super, I worked retail for seven years…nearly 20 YEARS AGO, and I still vividly recall the single, solitary customer who ever returned to apologize for acting like a complete shitbasket. If you actually sent your building manager a note he’d probably scrapbook it.

  • Nikki says:

    It’s not bitchy to ask for a refund at all, they’ll be able to get those quarters out. Now… perhaps you got more angry than you should have at someone who didn’t cause your problem. In that case, it’s nice of you to leave a message apologizing. You don’t need to feel guilty, though, you’re human and he’s probably heard something like this from the vast majority of tenants… and I’d bet most of them don’t even feel badly about it.

    I suggest you not label yourself bitchy to anyone… they might start to think of you the way you’ve identified yourself. You overreacted. That’s all.

  • MizShrew says:

    I managed an apartment building for four years with my husband, and I think you’re fine with the message you already left. If you really think your tone was over-the-top, (though it doesn’t sound like it was THAT bad) casually say something next time you see him (“hey, sorry again about that voice mail. It really was the day from hell.”) But I wouldn’t fall all over yourself about it.

    Given all the crap that building managers deal with (lockers broken into, drunk assholes hitting all the entry buttons in the vestibule, tenant disputes followed by tenant “stereo wars,” people always messing with the damn thermostat, that lady in apt. 217 who leaves passive-aggressive notes on your door every other week), I can pretty much guarantee that a) you weren’t as bas as you think you were, and b) your second voice mail made the guy’s day.

  • Jacq says:

    I’d definitely say ‘hey – really sorry about the other day; I hope you got my second message’ next time I ran into the guy, but other than that I wouldn’t stress about it. But it’s very nice to hear that you are somebody who actually acknowledges when they’ve over-reacted and acts accordingly: most people would be dicks about it and wouldn’t bother. So yay you!

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