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New York Minute

I don’t live in luxury.  I don’t reside in one of those pre-war Park Avenue buildings with those heavy glass and wrought-iron doors and the subdued dark wood paneling on the walls. Nor do I live in one of those gleaming apartment “towers” that dot the skyline.

I live in a simple, non-descript seven-story brick building erected in 1965 in Queens. But, our building (a co-op in which I am renting) does have one of those items seen in the “classier” buildings . . . a doorman.

Having lived in walk-up brownstones, residing in a doorman building is a treat. You have an added sense of safety when you arrive home. They hold packages for you, rather than you having to trudge to the post office or asking a neighbor to take in an expected parcel for you. They usually know what’s going on in the building before any of your neighbors.

Our building provides doorman coverage from 10AM-11:30PM weekdays, and 2-10PM on the weekends. Our doormen aren’t dressed in matching grey suits and hats like the ones you find “on the avenue”, but they’re always wearing nice shirts, ties and jackets.

I’ve only been in the building for a little over three years, but I understand that our weekday doorman has been in that position for many years. We haven’t been quite as fortunate in terms of night doormen.

The first one I met was a then-recent immigrant in his late 30s/early 40s, who was in the midst of studying for Medical School. He’d have one eye on the front door, and one on his books. It isn’t a bad gig for someone looking to have some quiet time while making a little dough. Sure enough, when he got his notice of acceptance into Med School, he gave up the doorman job.

His replacement was a nice-enough fellow, probably late-40s, wife, two small children. I came home one night to find him polishing the brass handrails. He held the bottle of polish up and asked me somewhat hesitantly “do you think this is safe to use on these rails?” I took a look at the bottle, and assured him it was OK. Another time, I came home at 11:30PM, to find his family waiting in the lobby for him to pack up and go home. Whatever his story was, it was short . . . he was gone within one month.

Next came Silvio, a Hispanic fellow in his early-to-mid 20s with a quiet demeanor and a well-kept ponytail and goatee. Silvio didn’t have any textbooks with him at the desk. Sometimes there would be a laptop, sometimes he’d be chatting on a celphone headset. I often wondered why someone his age would be subjecting himself to sitting behind a desk and collecting the recycling in an apartment building every weeknight. Was he saving his dollars for something? Was he between “real jobs”?

One night a few weeks ago, I came home to find that Silvio had ditched the ponytail. I thought, “hmmm . . . job interview coming up?”  Maybe I was right, as Silvio was gone a week later. His replacement hasn’t been hired yet, but I’m sure he’ll have his own story.

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Diane Firstman  New York Minute

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1 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 11, 2011 11:54 am

Beautiful, D. We had a doorman in our apt building when I was a kid, my grandparents building always had them. That's the height of luxury.

2 Raf   ~  Feb 11, 2011 1:12 pm

Better get my resume together :-)

3 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 11, 2011 1:46 pm

Probably more in Manhattan, but being a door man can actually be a relatively lucrative "real job". I had a friend severa years back who took a job as a doorman on Park Avenue to help pay his way through law school. He was doing so well (and soured on the idea of the being a lawyer) that he eventually dropped out to be a doorman full time.

4 thelarmis   ~  Feb 11, 2011 1:50 pm

i'm not very pleased with Silvio chopping off his pony tail. i swear, sometimes i feel like i'm the last long-hair left! ; )

5 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 11, 2011 1:53 pm

4) Damn hippie.

6 Bluenatic   ~  Feb 11, 2011 2:04 pm

The night doorman we had in our previous residence was truly the best. Not only did the dude hold packages for us, but he doubled on the sly as our weed man.

7 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 11, 2011 2:33 pm

6) LOL. At your service!

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