The co-op we owned was a huge brick pre-war building. Three of its sides were either attached to other buildings or sealed off by high barbed-wire fencing. The only way into the building was the front door, and that meant going through the lobby—right past the super’s apartment.
The super, a tall youngish man with tattoos on his arms from his days in the Serbian military, had an almost preternatural ability to detect suspicious noise in the lobby. Slam a door by mistake and—poof!—he would appear, making sure everything was OK.
One night, a drug addict tried to sneak into the building to sleep in the lobby. The super was having none of it. When the intruder refused an order to leave, the super picked the guy up bodily and literally threw him out, just like they do on TV cop shows. Our building was like a fortress, and our super kept it safe. That was one of his many jobs, and he did it with aplomb.
What makes a good super? According to some experts, two skill sets that are not often found in the same person. “They need two primary skills,” says Michael Pratico, Jr., of Richardson Commercial Realty, located in the Hamilton-Trenton area. First, “they need to be a decent mechanic—meaning they can fix a doorknob and do minor repairs on the boiler.”
The second skill might not initially come to mind when one thinks about a super’s job description, but is perhaps the more important of the two.