brucekluger.com

    Time Out New York, January 25, 2007

    Neighbors
    The case against doormen
    Why one man refuses the ultimate nosy neighbor.

    By Bruce Kluger


    I live in the only building on my block that doesn’t have a
    doorman. My friends shame me for this.

    “Are you kidding—no doorman?” says my next-door
    neighbor Paul, his voice dripping with Upper West Siderly
    pity. “What happens when you get a package?”

    My doorman brings up my groceries for me!” brags Helen from around the corner.
    “And he’s cute.”

    “Mine is so friendly,” adds Denise (two doors down). “He’s like a member of the
    family.”

    Which begs the question: Does one really want a family member who wears a
    maroon cadet’s hat?

    At the risk of sounding like I’m stuffed with sour grapes, I am genuinely contented to
    live life in a building that is unguarded, unpatrolled and unwatched. In fact, I prefer
    it. In a city in which crammed subway cars force you to swap DNA with the recently
    paroled; in which most office jobs require clench-jawed camaraderie with geeks who
    reek of double-lattés; and in which Fresh Direct darkens doorways more often than
    relatives, why would I want another uninvited stranger in my life

    For starters, doormen are like on-site parents. They know how often you order in
    Chinese; when you come and go (and God help you if you’re a female on a 7 AM
    walk of shame); and, in the case of those who actually enter your apartment, how
    clean you keep your placeNot cool.

    Then there’s the mandatory chitchat. When I come home after a long day, the last
    thing I want is an update on what balmy weather we’re having, or an unsolicited
    analysis of Steinbrenner’s latest blunder. That’s what cable is for.

    But it’s the holiday tipping that really gets me. Because most door staff work
    rotating shifts, the minimum outlay for gift giving is four envelopes, each holding fifty
    bucks. Are they serious? For 200 clams I can buy a Dudley Do-Right costume on
    eBay, slip it on and open my own damn door, thank you very much.

    Look, I understand the perks, but having surveyed my block, I just haven’t met a
    sidewalk sentry who gives me door-boy envy. Not wacky José (and his folding chair)
    across the street; not buttoned-up Reginald a few buildings down; not even slacker
    Sean next door (one more “Yo, dude!” and he gets his iPod up his ass).

    Then again, I would enjoy the company of a doorwoman. In my fantasy, she’d be
    petite and sexy, look like Sandra Bullock and always offer to carry things for me.
    Maybe she’d even buzz me during her breaks, and come up for a midday martini.

    And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t dig a chick in uniform?