Curbed's Horror Stories are firsthand reader reports about terrible design, decor, and real estate experiences past and present. Got a ghoulish tale of your own? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Living in New York City, one puts up with people, things, and situations that aren't normal anywhere else in America. As a 25-year-old single girl, I quickly learned that you must take the bad with the not-so-bad if you're going to survive the less-than-ideal apartment arrangements that fit within your budget. And said 'arrangement' my roommate and I found ourselves in was living in a beautiful, cheap, two-bedroom apartment on West End Avenue—three doors down from a blind, elderly, skeletal, Crypt Keeper-esque, full-blown crackhead. We named him 'Chicken Man' because the only thing we ever saw him do was sit on the stoop and eat fried chicken from the nearby KFC. The neighborhood's entire homeless population rotated in and out of our building 24 hours a day. When they weren't banging on our door at 3 a.m. asking for drugs, they were outside on the sidewalk, yelling up to our windows asking for drugs. The drug problems and the uninvited guests passing out in the vestibule continued every night for two years. Everything was well documented with the police, our local councilwoman, and our landlord, who had been trying unsuccessfully for years to evict him. Because of some still-unexplained housing loophole, Chicken Man paid no rent. He came and went as he pleased, and he and his 'friends' basically had free reign of the entire six-floor building. But these above problems were merely annoyances. Nothing could prepare me for the horror I witnessed one bright and sunny summer afternoon."
"Approaching the building with groceries in my arms, I saw Chicken Man walking down the steps toward the street. I slowed my pace so we wouldn't cross paths. He was carrying two mop buckets. I waited for him to reach the curb, then I walked up the stairs and into the lobby. With one foot to go before I pressed the elevator button, an atomic bomb of nasty hit my nasal passages. Think of the worst smell imaginable, then multiply that by, say, four or 10 million. That's the only just comparison.
Instantly, with no time to stop myself, I vomited. All over. And when I finished, I looked up and couldn't help but notice human feces splashed across the lobby—the floors, the walls, the doorhandles, the inside of the elevator. It was everywhere. This is a horrible metaphor, but it was quite literally like an atomic bomb of you-know-what had exploded. With vomit dribbling down my chin, I ran back outside and saw Chicken Man, out of his mind as usual, dumping the two pails of excrement on the curb.
In my horrified stupor, I could barely understand what was happening, but I managed to call 311 and tell the story to a shocked woman on the other end, who said sternly: 'Girl, you better call the damn police—NOW!' While I waited outside, Chicken Man made two return trips up to his apartment and back down to the street, each time with two overflowing buckets splashing wildly about.
An hour later, Chicken Man was strapped to a gurney and taken in for a psychological evaluation. As our poor, poor building super began cleaning up the scene, I watched as a muscular, 6'5" NYC police officer survey the scene in disbelief. With watering eyes—and through a ventilation mask, mind you—he looked at me and said, 'I've been a New York City cop for 25 years. I've worked in Harlem my whole life, and I've never seen something as repulsive as I just saw inside that apartment.' Apparently Chicken Man's plumbing stopped working months and months prior, and the entire studio was drowning in a foot of human excrement.
Chicken Man was soon released from the psych ward. Within hours, I saw him back on the stoop, eating more barbecue wings."