Optimizing for the Wrong Thing

May 23, 2012, 8:37 AM

Tags: off-topic

My apartment has a core logistical issue: it has two floors and the connection is a spiral staircase. This is generally fine for normal use, but it's a giant hassle when moving in or out: the building has to hire some guys to essentially dismantle the stairs to turn each step to one side so they can hoist large objects like bookshelves and beds up and down.

In order to make this mildly more practical, the building decided to replace one of the upstairs windows in each apartment with a model that makes it easier to move things in an out through it. Nothing to complain about there - a window's a window, and now was a pretty good time to make the switch, since our section of the building has been lightly populated but is picking up now.

The actual installation was problematic in the way you'd expect that kind of thing to be: longer than the estimated hour, several trips, and the powerful aroma of new drywall and paint for several days. I had to call the front desk a couple times to get them to "remind" the maintenance guy that he was supposed to stop by several times but kept forgetting. Still, that's within the expected range.

The problematic part of this window is that, while it is indeed better at the specific task of moving furniture in and out, it's at the significant expense of daily window use. I had assumed that the new window would be basically the same as the old one, but made to be easy to remove when needed. That, however, is not the case. Replacing the two-pane window we used to have, the new one is a single giant pane with bars glued to it, I guess to make it look like the others. It can't be opened from the bottom like the school-style window we used to have or slid up like normal human windows, but instead there's a large handle on the left: turn it 90° and you can swing the entire window inwards, which is what you'd do when moving; give it another quarter turn and you can kind of lean it inwards from the top about three inches to let some fresh air in. Note that this means that it's mildly easier to move the entire window than it is to open it just a bit.

Additionally, they added a "lock" to the window, presumably for policy or regulatory reasons, to make it so that we can't easily swing open the whole thing. I say "lock" because that's how the building guy described it to me. A more accurate description would be "a metal stick screwed into the window frame". It's literally a bar of metal placed a couple inches from the window, so the window will smack into it like it's a doorstop. It's also colored a dark green, which would have matched the color of the old window frame; the new frame, however, is white. Fortunately, it appears easy to remove, so I may do that.

To accommodate the inward-swinging top and this "lock", the maintenance guy had to move the windowblinds several inches, so that they're now placed right in the middle of the previously-deep frame. We used to have a couple plants and a bed for the cats up there; I guess we still could, but then we'd have to choose between never quite lowering the blinds all the way, bonking the cat on the head when lowering them, or manually angling them back behind the obstacles every time.

And the kicker: there's no screen, so we can't actually open the window unless we want a bunch of bugs in here anyway.

So yes, this new window is indeed good at the task of moving furniture in and out through it. Fantastically good, in fact! Unfortunately, that's something that happens only twice per tenant, and in theory tenants should not be coming and going particularly frequently. Certainly, less frequently than they might do things like, say, let some fresh air in, raise or lower blinds, and place things on the windowsill... tasks that are all significantly worse now.

Overall, I feel like my computer room's window was mugged.

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