Secrets of a New York Doorman

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Those of us who reside in apartment buildings know the daily routine of passing our doormen each morning and evening with perhaps a friendly hello and nod, but for some New York City doormen,  there appears to be an unspoken pattern of behavior exhibited by certain residents that either affords them exceptional service or not.

In a recent report, it was noted that in most buildings, there are two ways to go about receiving exceptional service from the doorman and other staff: tip well, or get elected to the board.

It’s likely that you’ve noticed this in your own building as well, so perhaps its less of a secret and more of an acute observation, but it’s noteworthy nonetheless. Board members of apartment buildings do tend to have noticeable advantages over the regular residents and requested jobs, such as a paint or plaster touch up, or even a plumbing job, tend to be accommodated faster for them than your regular run-of-the-mill resident. To some extent, it’s a matter of access, and even something as simple as having a set of keys to certain doors which typically only staff has.

So while the rest of us receive the ever-thrilling, “we’ll be there between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.” responses to some requests, board members tend to be the eyes and ears of a building which means staff, including doormen, tend to accommodate them more rapidly for “fear of not being considered a team player.”

However, one New York City doorman recently told the Huffington Post that despite this unequal balance of power board members tend to carry around in their pocket day-in and day-out, his view of the situation involves a somewhat more complex break down of these board members into personality categories which we thought were not only creative, but actually seemingly accurate.

This particular doorman’s perspective is that there are five sub-groups within the larger group of board members. See if you recoginize these characteristics in anyone in your building.

The No-Nonsense Types: Serious individuals who don’t mess around and get down to business. Typically having held their position for a longer period of time, these individuals are seen as a benefit to the building, despite their somewhat “brooding demeanor.” Usually, staff (and residents) tries to avoid extended interactions with this person, primarily because they seem to “always have a look of not wanting to be bothered.”

The Approachables: More friendly and down to earth board members who often interact with the staff to a greater degree. These individuals are doorman’s main source of information on the goings-on in the buildings.

The Inspectors: The board members that you see doing walk-throughs around the building keeping records on what’s been taken care of and what hasn’t prior to reporting back and raising questions at meetings. This person keeps a doorman on his toes because they give the impression that any wrong-doing may result in a “letter of warning from management.”

The Snoops: Individuals who are as nosy as the inspectors but for a different reason. These individuals tend to just be genuinely interested in the people who reside in the building, and try to catch up on gossip when they can. But as friendly and heart-warming as this may sound, the doorman says “staff tend to stop talking altogether when this person is around to avoid having something we say used against us.”

The I’m-Just-There’s: The more reserved, neutral group of individuals who appear to be on the board purely because “they have nothing better to do.” Despite their reasons for being on the board, whatever they may be, while they may only last for a short time, they do reap the benefits that are part of being one of the bunch, meaning staff must “go along with something they may ask of us.”


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