One of the sad realities of living in a big apartment building in New York goes a little something like this: You're walking down your hall one day, and something smells a little funky. "Eh," you think to yourself, "someone must have cooked something bad." Then a few days later, the hallway smells pretty distinctly awful. It's sort of an ambient smell, and you can't tell where it comes from. And then, a few days after that, the paramedics come by and wheel out the body of that elderly lady who lived down the hall and always looked a little bit like Sumner Redstone to you. This has never happened to us, but it has happened to multiple people we know, such that whenever there's a lingering smell in our hallway (which happens frequently — we live down the hall from a drug dealer), we wonder to ourselves, "pot butter, or rotting corpse?"
Yesterday, at the Ravenswood Houses in Queens, neighbors finally got police to come by and check out an apartment that had been positively reeking for years. Numerous calls to 311 and the Department of Health had failed to get results, but when the NYPD was on the scene to investigate something else, they picked up on the scent and checked it out, immediately assuming a dead body was the cause of the stench. But it wasn't! It was just a tenant, 69-year-old Ming Li Sung, who liked living among heaps of rotting garbage. "Get out! Get out!" he yelled at the FDNY hazmat team as they barged in to do some emergency cleaning. They ignored him and then shipped him off to Elmhurt Hospital Center for psychiatric evaluation.
As cops cleaned up the garbage, hordes of cockroaches escaped. "The police were throwing up," said one neighbor, who had watched cycles of people move out of the hallway because of the situation and believes that his own wife miscarried because of the stench. The smell, apparently, was so bad that it would kill flies in the hallway.
Anyway, the moral of the story is: If your hallway smells really bad for more than a week, call the police. Even if somebody isn't dead, the cops may be the only people who turn up to help you alleviate the stench. And, if it turns out that the hallway reeks because your neighbors are drug dealers, maybe you won't have to put up with all that damn reggaetón that gets blasted at all hours anymore.