When a couple of friends moved into their brand new apartment for the first time, they were appalled at what they found outside the other doors in their lift lobby … shoes!
Now these people were uber-trendy urbanites with a preference for minimalist design, so the shoes had to go. But how the shoes got there in the first place is a neat illustration of how apartment living brings disparate cultures together.
The first residents to leave their shoes outside their front doors were Asian immigrants. They were followed, next door, by downsizing farmers. Think about it – in both cultures you leave your shoes at the door when you come home from work.
The third pairs belonged to apartment living newbies who thought that’s what you did in unit blocks – something to do with protecting the timber floors, they supposed.
Was it such a big deal? In the great ocean of “stuff left in lift lobbies”, shoes are close to plankton.
The most offensive and possibly the most common lift lobby leavings are the suppurating bags of rotting garbage left outside front doors to be picked up on the way to the bins – a trip that often doesn’t occur until hours later.
When I confronted a former neighbour about this once, he said “Aw, mate, they were starting to stink so I needed to get them out of the unit.” Moron.
A building manager I know got so tired of being ignored by a bunch of stoners who would leave their garbage outside “for a minute” that frequently turned into days. Eventually he used his master key to open the door and tipped the contents of the bags onto their hall floor.
Yes, it was probably illegal but hey, it was definitely effective.
I’m told there’s a debate raging on the Owners Corporation Network’s online forum (ocn.org.au) about allowing people to put down doormats outside their front doors.
It seems welcome mats are very unwelcome in some buildings, especially where the residents live in constant fear of fire.
“They’ll invalidate the insurance,” they cry. “Then we’ll all have to personally pay for the death and injury of someone who can’t quite make it to the fire stairs without tripping over a 1cm deep flap of coconut fibre.”
Really? A phone call to the insurance company might clear that up. And, more to the point, what are the chances of that happening?
In any case, the by-law forbidding residents from leaving stuff on common property will be invoked, notices to comply issued and the sense of community will be ever so slightly eroded.
The doormat argument is really about forcing people to conform. No you can’t paint your front door a different colour, or have a peephole or a decorative knocker.
There is a middle ground, of course, where owners in one lift lobby could agree to decorate and even furnish the area to their collective taste. This is already happening in some blocks; after all, it doesn’t affect anyone else, especially if the floors are locked off.
A by-law passing responsibility for common property to those residents would be all you needed to allay any fears.
I’m told fire fear is also being used to order mothers in some lift-free blocks to lug their prams upstairs rather than leave them in an otherwise unused space in the stairwell.
All joking aside, if that space is also the route to the fire exit, then you have a real problem. But again, prams are far from the worst concerns.
Chained up bikes, discarded furniture and abandoned shopping trollies cluttering up fire stairs are a bigger threat to life, limb and insurance coverage than something that can easily be wheeled aside.
And in this age where young families are increasingly moving into apartments, surely a little thought could go into providing a pram park alongside the racks of flat-tyred, unridden bicycles or in the storeroom that’s full of stuff that even its owners have forgotten.
Then you can carry your babies down to the pram – just be careful you don’t trip over your shoes on your way out.