Doormen might be a dime a dozen in New York City, but the good ones are rare. If you polled New Yorkers about how happy they are with theirs, I’d be interested to hear the feedback. (Something tells me the results would be less than favorable, for the most part.)
In upscale buildings, doormen tend to go the extra mile and help the residents do simple tasks. For example, before residents leave their apartment, they need only call down and ask the doorman to hail a cab. By the time they get to the front door, a taxi will be waiting.
Need help with your shopping bags or suitcases? Your doorman might save your arms and help you carry them to your apartment. Doormen are also happy to hold items for you. A doorman may also help you out of a tight spot. For example, something as simple as locking yourself out of your apartment can quickly be resolved with a doorman’s spare set of keys. And have you ever noticed that the sidewalks outside buildings with doormen never have ice or snow, even in the middle of winter? That’s because the doormen shovel them clear to keep their residents safe.
Doormen are friendly faces. They wave when you leave and greet you when you return, but read on to discover important ways that these workers can make life in New York easier. They’re not just a luxury but a necessity.
Table of Contents
Be polite at all times
A doorman is paid to be polite, pleasant, and cordial. (This could be the most challenging aspect of a doorman’s job.) Granted, everyone has a bad day here and there, but even then, a great doorman will smile and say hello to every person who walks in and out of a building.
Look After and Care for You
Because doormen know the residents of their buildings, they tend to assume the role of caretaker. The doorman might be the first to notice if an elderly or disabled resident hasn’t been seen for a while and then check on them.
Operate the door
This one is obvious, but you’d be surprised how often doors are left unattended, at least in my building. I understand that nature calls, but if that happens, at the very least, a doorman should lock the door to the building, or get a porter or someone else to cover. And, in this case, residents should own a key to their front door always to have access.
Open the door
Opening and closing a door all day long gets tiresome, but again, a doorman is expected to handle this mundane task. Taking a catnap while apartment dwellers struggle with groceries or other packages as they come home from a long workday isn’t exactly part of the job description for a concierge. Get off the butt and get to work.
Know everyone’s name
Remembering several hundred names isn’t easy (I would definitely fail since remembering names isn’t my strong suit, even if I’ve just met you), but knowing who lives in what apartment is very important, which brings me to the next point.
Screen Your Guests
How many times have you wished there was a way to screen visitors the way that you screen your phone calls and messages? It turns out there is; you just need a doorman. Doormen get to know their building’s residents, and they won’t let just anyone enter. If someone says that they’re there to see you, your doorman will call you to let you know.
That doesn’t mean that you have to let them in, though. If you’re busy or not feeling up to guests, you can use your doorman to screen your guests and avoid having those awkward conversations with people. If someone’s a real pest, say your ex, you can tell your doorman never to let them in.
Know who’s home
A doorman should keep track of who’s coming and going, who’s in their apartment, and who’s not. (This part of the job requires a good memory, but knowing each resident helps too.)
Full-time workers, busy parents, and other apartment dwellers are often out when their parcels arrive. Thankfully, doormen are there when you’re not. These workers are happy to receive and sign for packages when you’re not home.
Unregistered parcels will be much more secure with your doorman than sitting unattended outside your apartment door. The arrangement also puts an end to those annoying extra post office trips to retrieve packages that need signatures.
Logging in UPS, FedEx, and USPS packages are part of a doorman’s job, so knowing which apartment and tenant/shareholder gets which package is essential. Many buildings now use Building Link, which is a useful online portal that sends the recipient an email when a package has been delivered. Still, the doorman is responsible for entering the correct information.
Get instructions right
When I leave town and have a pet-sitter or family staying in my apartment, I give a key and instructions to the doorman on duty. I trust that all of my doormen will know who can enter my unit and on which days. And since we have day doormen and night doormen, I want to be sure that each one will know what’s going on in my apartment, as they should.
Help you get a cab
Cabs in New York can be hard to come by at times, and I’m not sure what it is, but doormen have a knack for flagging them down.
Call when visitors arrive
Although it’s another given, I can’t tell you how many times a delivery person has shown up at my apartment door with hot Thai food in hand, yet I didn’t receive a call from my doorman. Yes, I know I called for delivery, but that’s beside the point. New York is a big city with its share of crazy criminals, and having a doorman is a luxury that should ensure a higher level of comfort and safety.
Stay out of personal business
A doorman should know when to chat and when to keep quiet. He shouldn’t get involved in family quarrels or personal conversations, even if he hears them. Your doorman will know enough about you (probably more than you’d like), and he will see you at your worst (when you’re sick, without makeup, and hungover). Do you want him to catch you in the middle of a lovers’ quarrel? Bear in mind; apartment residents should try and keep private matters private and discuss behind closed doors whenever possible.