Today’s news that the shiny, curved, 42-story, 570,000-square-foot office tower at 17 State Street is about to hit the market brought to mind some precious memories for this real estate reporter. A month after graduating college in the summer of 2006, my first-ever reporting assignment as an Observer intern was to trek down to that very building and investigate rumors of a scatological crisis in the building’s bathrooms.
The piece, named "Toilet Terror Downtown," is after the jump. May it be a warning to prospective buyers.
Has 17 State Street, a curvaceous tower just around the corner from Wall Street, been assailed by a toilet terrorist?
The story goes that several bathroom stalls in the building have been regularly bombed, as it were, by an office worker (or workers?) with compulsively and egregiously bad scatological conduct.
“I’m the one who goes in with the plunger,” said the building’s bow-tied porter last week. “But without them making a mess, I have no job. So I can’t complain.”
The porter fingered the 41st floor as “very messy.” And two workers, outside at lunch last week, described the “egregious abuse” to the 22nd-floor bathrooms.
“Have you ever seen a rock concert, or that scene in Trainspotting?” asked one. “There was vandalism, scato- …. ”
“Scato-vandalism? Scato-graffiti!” the other proposed.
The 22nd floor is a transition floor—the high-rise elevator starts there. “People would go to use those bathrooms,” said the workers outside. Building manager Deloy Stoll said that only a floor’s tenants could access its bathrooms. Ms. Stoll offered to prove the security and the cleanliness of the bathrooms on floor 22—but a covert mission had already revealed that the door of the men’s room was unlocked.
“We have 2,000 or 2,100 people on 42 floors, with two bathrooms on each floor,” Ms. Stoll said. “So you’re going to have people who have problems. But this is a class-A building.”
“I handle very, very sensitive personnel problems regarding the bathroom,” Ms. Stoll said. “But if I get a call about spicy food, I just give them aerosol. We all eat spicy food sometimes.”
But hadn’t the problem been, well ….
“There were prophylactics and needles,” a building worker said. “One of the executives on the 10th floor got upset—but it could have been for insulin.”
“I heard there was a severed finger.”
“With a ring!”
O.K., perhaps the tale of the bathroom terrorist has completely spiraled into ludicrous legend.
“People piss on the floor, if that’s what you mean,” one office worker outside said.
So there is good news for 17 State Street. Whatever horrors have beset its bathrooms in the past, and whomever the culprit, everything is returning to a sloppy dull normal. “It’s not as bad as before,” the porter said. “For a few months, it was once a week, sometimes twice. One time we went up with the manager, and things calmed down.”
Dr. Sheldon Bach, a New York psychoanalyst, wasn’t surprised to hear that an employee might not be confining his toilet activities to the toilet proper. “Oh, yeah, it’s not uncommon,” he said. “It’s some destructive impulse. They’re furious at someone or another, and that’s how they express rage. It’s probably the company that the person feels has offended him.”
“The fact that people work on Wall Street,” he said, “doesn’t mean they’re not very disturbed.”
“It’s an impulse everyone has, right?” Dr. Bach said. “As in when people say ‘Piss on you’ or ‘Shit on you.’”