For the past two years, there has been a piece of gum on the air conditioner outside my office window: a shriveled wad of hardened, blackened A.B.C. (already been chewed) gum. I live in a second-floor apartment on the Upper West Side, and I don’t know how it landed there. But month after month, I’ve wished I could remove it. My window is stuck, and neither wind nor rain nor snow has come to the rescue.
Recently, to my chagrin, scaffolding went up around my building. When I looked out, I saw not only the offending piece of gum but also burly workers in hard hats and thick gloves.
Then I had a brilliant idea. I found some bright green paper and in block letters wrote: “See this gum? Please flick it away.” For good measure, in case the workers spoke Spanish, I scribbled: “Este chicle? Quitarlo por favor.” I added “thank you” and “gracias” and…