Name: Carol Mayse
Age: 40-something
Occupation: Senior Court Clerk, Queens Housing Court
From where: Brooklyn
Reside in: Jamaica, Queens
How long have you lived in New York: Whole life

The Questions:
You’re the lynchpin of the Queens Housing Court as the coordinator of the Queens Resource Center. You sift through a stream of questions every day about troubles of landlords, tenants, and housing conditions. In New York City at large, housing is an obsession for the average person. What’s some advice you can give to people so they won’t end up in front of you with a sob story?

With the economy and price of real estate making it almost impossible to find affordable housing, taking a share or a roommate has become a necessity, not an option. When taking a roommate, find out something about them. Knowing their first name is not sufficient. Take references, job information, and verify it before they move in. Spend a little time talking to them. Finding out about their unnatural attachment to their various exotic pets is best discovered before the keys are turned over. And also remember that a verbal agreement is not worth the paper it’s not printed on.

If you were the mayor, what would you do to solve the housing crisis in NYC?

I would build more affordable housing – and by affordable, I don’t mean yuppie standards. I’d pass a law that would make all senior citizens eviction proof. Nothing is sadder than a 75-year old person facing homelessness due to inability to afford a place to live.

You see a lot of people on a daily basis and seem to like it. Before this, you worked as a token booth clerk for the MTA. There’s a long list of things you don’t miss – the bureaucracy, sitting in a fish bowl for 8-hour shifts, and many of the annoyances – but you liked the social aspects. I guess you’re a people person, something that many think a civil service job description wouldn’t ask for. What makes you so good at relating?

The people. NYC is a fascinating place and people in and of themselves often have very interesting stories if you take the time to listen. I genuinely enjoy being around people. I think it’s my purpose in life to educate people one person at a time. And by taking the time to listen even when there’s sometimes a detour to the purpose of their visit, people know that someone is actually trying to help them.

You taught me the neat trick of getting to the DMV on a Friday afternoon to make my wait fly by and other tricks navigating the public works. What’s a good tip everyone should know to navigate the court system smoothly (unless they’re on the wrong side of the law, that is)?

When you receive papers, don’t ignore them. They are not a suggestion. When receiving court papers, the proper response is to come to court.

Name three things that the average person does to make a civil servant’s life hell:

1. Coming to the office without the proper paperwork
2. Waiting until the last minute
3. Asking you a question and then talking through your answer.

Lucky 5:
Favorite subway line: There is no such thing.

What is your inner theme song on the streets? “Everyday People,” Sly and The Family Stone

If you had good luck and/or millions to spare, where in town would you live? Upper East Side, in a penthouse overlooking Central Park

Best bargain to be found in the city? Century 21

What bygone NYC place or thing do you wish were still around? Rockaway Playground. It was a Coney Island type amusement thing in Rockaway Park

-Interview by Candice Holmes