Tracy Caruso Moves Into A ‘Smart” Building

This weekend, I moved into a new apartment building that’s like George Jetson’s wet dream. Everything works from your cell phone; its “convenience” has been a total pain. Construction has been booming in Florida, and there are loads of brand-new high-rise buildings. Consider this a warning and mental preparation. You have to learn how to do everything to exist. I had to be taught how to open my front door. Welcome to the new age. If you plan on moving into a new building, here’s what it’s like.

No people are milling about in the new intelligent buildings, catering to your every whim. You get things done through apps. You must embrace technology, and there’s a learning curve to survive.

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In all fairness, the first residents in my new building moved in about five months ago. it will take time to iron out the kinks, but right now, the answer to something like, “How do I get my newspaper delivered?” Is “We don’t know.” I’m glad no one said, “Why don’t you just read it online?” 

I grew up in New York, in a high-rise building, so one would think this wouldn’t be a change for me. Boy, was I wrong. There’s no intercom for calling downstairs to send “the guy” up because the toilet stopped working. Now, there’s an app for that. In the case of this building, there are three apps you must have to live, so if you hate technology, you’re screwed. 

This is a couple enjoying their move into a new home. For Tracy Caruso, this scene looked more like crying into a carton of ice cream.

I first discovered that people aren’t just wandering around twenty-four/seven, eagerly waiting to cater to your every need. The first thing I had to do was download an app that opens the door to any common areas and get this; it also opens the front door to your actual apartment. In other words, there are no keys! You hold your phone to this “Big Brother is watching you” gadget, and then it unlocks the door. Every resident has two codes just for them—one for your home and one for everything else. If you don’t memorize your codes, which I never will, and you forget your phone when you leave, you’re screwed. 

Here is the next challenge. No nice person in a uniform lets you know you’ve received ten packages from Amazon. You’re informed by app number two. The second app tells you a package has arrived and gives you one-time access to the room, so you can’t go in again until your next delivery. Once in the package room, your stuff is with everyone else’s. This means anyone who comes in for their package can take whatever else is in the room. Since no one is patrolling the place and there’s no way to determine whether you, someone else, or no one has picked up your package, if anything happens, there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re screwed. 

Remember this guy? The nice uniformed person who helped you in the building, always with a smile, no longer exists. He’s been replaced by apps.


On top of that, my husband also gets a message from the app informing him that we have packages, so there’s no hiding that I have yet another parcel from Amazon. I’m screwed. 

If your package is heavy, there’s a cart to take it upstairs, but if you have a bad back and can’t lift your box, there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re screwed.

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Let’s say you need something fixed in your apartment. There’s no one to call. That’s where app number three comes in. App three allows you to put in maintenance requests. If no one comes promptly, there’s no one to complain to. You have to wait until they’re good and ready to do it. In the meantime, you’re stuck with a busted toilet. There’s nothing you can do about it. You’re screwed.

It’s been a few days, and I’m getting used to the new normal, but it’s not easy. I already see that some things are nice about this way of life. For example, if you need someone to enter your home, you can send them a code from one of the apps. No worrying about letting them in or getting a key to them. Also, one of the apps has a building chat, so if you want to find out where the best dog groomer is in the neighborhood, one of the neighbors can tell you. One woman wanted to know the best place to get Botox. Lots of friendly neighbors were happy to help her out.

There are some pluses once you embrace technology and accept that you must always have your phone on you.

Yesterday, I screamed a blue streak of “Get me out of this hell hole.” But today, I have a new outlook. I woke up to a beautiful sunrise, took my dogs out, figured out how the internet works, and thought, I can do this. I need time, and I need to remember never, ever leave my phone at home, or I’m screwed. 

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