Podcasting and Radio News

A Handy Man’s Story – Episode 2


AMBI:  (Keys and door opening)

AMBI:  (Opening music)

TRACK:  In the first episode of this two-part episode, you were introduced to Victor Caltajeno, a super from New York City who has spent 21 years as a super. You heard about how he started and got to know the person rather than the super. In this episode, you’ll listen to him as a super. He’ll talk about what it takes to be one, what the job is like, the difficulties about it, as well as more. Let’s start with what it means to be a super and what does a super do.

Victor Caltajeno:  Being a super is making sure that your building is safe.  Um, how? No fire hazards, no gas leaks. Your heating system is working properly in the winter. Nothing in the hallway that’s a hazard because somebody can trip and fall, garbage maintenance, moping sweeping in the building.  Things like that you know.

TRACK:  After explaining to me the job of a super and what he does. He goes on to tell me that he didn’t always work for the company he works in now. He use to work for a company called dogger management. He was glad he didn’t have to work for them anymore. According to victor, they didn’t pay him sick days or vacation days or any bonuses and treated him like garbage.  But the company he’s with  now is better.

Victor Caltajeno:   This company took over it’s a better company, better benefits, we get vacation we get sick days we get a health plan. Plus, like I said, they give us a phone for they can reach us, and also they give us a uniform. Hats, three shirts, right now you got a coat they give us a coat. Everything is blue, you know we gotta wear boots, and we gotta have a sensor for we can check the hot water temperature. The temperature of the house is cel… the radiator makes sure everything is working proper.  We gotta have a knife a chief wright knife on us a spatula. We gotta have a tester an electric tester for we can test the outlets and the switch.  What else we gotta have a tape metric just in case we have to measure something right away.  And that’s it make it look mostly professional and make the tenant feel comfortable with us being there.

TRACK:  Victor also told me about what happened to dogger management and how the transition to where he is now happened. It wasn’t a smooth transition; instead it was more luck and chance that made the change happen as Victor explains.

Victor Caltajeno:  they lay me off cause the company went bankrupt and they give the building to somebody else then I got a porter job in dogger management. Then they gave me a super job. That’s how I switched up to here in 179th St. Then a year ago this company took over the building after I was working for seven years for dogger so they took over, and they gave me the opportunity to work for them. I had to leave cause if they didn’t give me a chance to work with them I had to leave cause the management was different, so they was not responsible for me, but they like the way I working so they gave me an opportunity to work with them.

TRACK:  One of the interesting things Victor told me was how he was starting to focus on getting his certification or diploma, for he can earn even more money. Which I thought was smart the way he was thinking.

Victor Caltajeno:   Right now I’m focused on getting my diploma and more degree’s cause at the end of the day they gonna pay me more. The more things I know how to do they gonna pay me more so you really work to get money right, so the people is paying good. The company is paying good so yea I’ll stay here cause in order for me to do something else. I gotta go to school I’m thirty-five years old I don’t wanna go to school to do something else I don’t like you know. I do like this what I’m doing so if they gonna pay me more for doing what I like, my goal is really is to stay here and play it safe and probably be a manager who knows a general manager.

TRACK:  Other reasons why Victor doesn’t want to leave include his kids and the community also the longevity he’s had there. It’s all he’s known he’s never really worked anywhere else as a super. He’s Done favors here and there for other companies but has always remained with the one he’s in now.

Victor Caltajeno:   I been here since I started as a super I haven’t moved and I don’t want wanna move I create this like around here my kids they around here in school I like the area you know everybody knows me I don’t wanna move and start all over again. With other people other habits I know what they like some somethings got to be done, and I could do it right away they can wait and more patient, somewhere else I won’t have it like that.

TRACK:  As much as victor does like his job there are some things he does hate about it. Plumming is always a struggle for Victor. And now I understand why.

Victor Caltajeno: Plumbing cause I’m tall, so when I gotta unclog a bathtub or work under the sink you know it’s hard for me I be hitting everything; it’s kinda messy.

TRACK: There’s also, of course, the supers who don’t take their job as seriously. Victor goes on to tell me about friends he has that are like that. He does admit that there are supers that don’t care what happens and do their jobs for other reasons.

Victor Caltajeno:  I got like twenty friend supers probably more, and out of all of them probably three of them like what they are doing the other ones do like to do it. They just do it for the job and the apartment and for the money.  They don’t got the building as clean as I got, they don’t work as hard I you know. I like to help right now this is not my building and I came over here and  I made my own clock I got the snake in my house I got my tools, so I come over here do it real quick you know a favor for a favor.

TRACK: When asking Victor about the advice he would have for other supers if they ever find themselves in any type of situation with management or any legal troubles, this is what he said.

Victor Caltajeno:  Get legal advice cause some of them is legal, and some of the things they do is illegal, and you can’t shut up, and you cant stay quiet cause you know what I’m saying you saying something it helps benefit others. When you speaking you free your mind it’s a free country you got freedom of speech so some of them like me I was scared to say a couple of things we didn’t have sick days or holidays pay. Other companies do it and other companies they don’t do it.  So they know we not gonna go out there for fear of losing your job, you know.

TRACK: But as far as advice for anyone who is just becoming a super and is just getting into the actual job Victor keeps it simple, really.

Victor Caltajeno:  I’m just letting them know every day is a new thing, so you got to deal with it and if you come to the garbage room and it stinks get another job cause it’s gonna stink all your life.

Track: There’s another important and simple piece of advice Victor did add on later to the conversation.

Victor Caltajeno:  Take it easy. Don’t take your job to serious not too serious just don’t take it too hard.  Don’t be rude and be flexible with the people around you and work wit the building, the building works with you the people in the building is the one that makes you and to be a great super and to be successful for you to like your job you gotta do it like this is a hobby makes somebody happy, it makes you happy. So do the best you can to satisfy the person you know the tenants.

TRACK:  And you learn how to be a super and everything from your father you said right, so what was like the number one thing he told you that always sticks with you?

Victor Caltajeno: Don’t change be yourself and like I said being around some of the people it will give you bad vibes sometimes they will get mad at you and you just trying to make them comfortable and listen to them and what they say work around with what they want, you know if you can do it, do it if you can not then you can not do it.

TRACK: In closing out my conversation with Victor there was only one real thing he wanted people to understand about him and his job, just one thing he ask of the tenants and for anyone else he does a job for.

Victor Caltajeno:  I got things to do to its not like whenever you wake up today its listen well call the super for he can do it now. No please, I would like for people to understand me better and treat me better, that’s it I give you respect, and you give me some respect.

TRACK: Hopefully you got some insight into what it’s like being a super and the trials and tribulations Victor had to face and is still facing to a degree. And I hope you enjoyed the listen as well for Baruch College this Christian Nazario signing off.