323: The Super
This American Life
The mysterious hold supers have on their buildings, or that their buildings have on them.
- Host Ira Glass visits the Upper East Side building in Manhattan where Peter Roach has been the super for about ten years. Peter has a lot of keys. He doesn't know what most of them unlock. (4 minutes)
- Act One: Reporter Jack Hitt tells the story of how he helped organize tenants and threaten a rent strike in a New York City building back in the 1980s. Before long, Bob, the building super became his enemy. The situation got pretty ugly. Mobster ugly. Bob began to brag about how important he was in his native Brazil, how he could kill a person and be immune from prosecution. Only many years later did Jack find out how dangerous Bob really was. (23 minutes)
- Act Two: The super in Josh Bearman's Los Angeles building was kind of a needy character. He would sometimes ask Josh to come into his apartment and help him out -- check whether his garbage was being moved by a ghost, for example. Then one day he told Josh a story that involved these elements: a gas station, a beautiful woman, an orchid, a snowman, Indonesia, and a check he'd written for $30,000. It was so crazy, that naturally, Josh believed it. (12 minutes)
- Act Three: A man who we're calling "Dennis" inherits his father's job as a landlord of a big apartment building. His dad had warned him that bad tenants could drive even a good man to become heartless, but Dennis vowed that would never happen to him. He's tested on this point when he tries to help a couple that falls behind in their rent. He sets up a payment plan for them, teaches them how to make a budget, helps them with their personal problems. For six years, he stops himself from kicking them out. This story was co-produced by Sonari Glinton. (16 minutes)
Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org