Time Out New York, January 25, 2007
The case against doormen
Why one man refuses the ultimate nosy neighbor.
By Bruce Kluger
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
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?