How to Treat a Doorman (And How to Act as One)

According to a recent article in The New York Times, people don’t always know how to act around their doormen, or know what to ask/expect of them.

I know, I know. First-world problems. It’s like, “Gracious, I bought so much caviar that my guests are going to be too full to enjoy their filet mignon.” Or “Oh, dear me, I shan’t be able to make it to the polo match because I have that sailing regatta the same day.” (Seriously, though, that’s too bad. I know how much you were looking forward to that.) Or, I don’t know, something about not being able to find the Grey Poupon.

But actually many people do live in doorman buildings, whether for extra security, or to have someone there to accept packages, or because they just like them. So there should be standard practices for both the residents who have doormen and the doormen themselves to follow. Basically, it boils down to the immortal words of Bill and Ted: “Be excellent to each other.” Here are my other suggestions.

For the residents:

Don’t treat the doormen like they’re your servants. Yes, they’re there to make your life easier, but there are specific elements to their job, and that doesn’t involve fixing things in your apartment or going on errands for you. And if they do do something to make your life easier, even if it’s in their job description, thank them for it. Doormen are people and deserve respect. After all, if you prick them, do they not bleed? (Though, if you’re really not sure, don’t test it out. That’s how people go to jail.)

Make small talk (if you want). Yes, doormen are there to do a job. A job where they’re on their feet all day, and that’s—let’s be honest—probably a little boring. So go on and chat a bit. But don’t feel obligated. They’re there to do a job, and doormen know you don’t always have time to stop. But at least smile or do that weird nod thing you do when you see someone from high school on the street and you can’t quite remember their name but want to acknowledge them so they don’t post on Facebook that you’re some sort of snob. You know, that nod.

Tip the doormen when they go out of their way, not just on the holidays. It shows appreciation. Plus it will make them more willing to help you in the future, especially if you want something that will make them go out of their way. (Like if you need information. Of if you want them to conveniently “forget” that, yes, you did have drunken noodles every single day this week.)

For the doormen:

Open the door. Yes, I know. That’s the first lesson in Doorman 101 (although I’m only guessing—I didn’t have a chance to take that class in college. My schedule was full with Horror Fiction, Pop culture and Its Effects on Society, and Bowling. Seriously. Go Bearcats!). There are definitely other aspects to the job, but this one definitely should not be ignored. If a resident comes in with his hands full, open the door for him. Or, do them one better, and open the door even if their hands aren’t full. It makes the environment just that much more pleasant.

Do what you can to make life easier for residents. Call them cabs if they need it. Or, if you’re allowed to, hold on to their apartment keys if they’re going out for a jog. Of course, don’t let the residents take advantage of you. Don’t agree to clean their apartments or walk their dogs. After all, you’re their doorman, not their mother.

Actually call. Speaking of mothers, there’s an old joke where the mother calls her son and says “Oh, sonny boy, I’m so weak! I haven’t eaten all day.” And the son says, “Ma! Why haven’t you eaten?” And the mother says, “I didn’t want my mouth to be full if you called.” One of the jobs of doormen is to call the residents when a guest arrives, and the resident can let you know if that’s actually a friend or a murderer that probably shouldn’t be allowed in. But sometimes, if the doorman recognizes someone that’s been up before, or if the person just walks in like he knows where he’s going, the person will go right in to the building. This is obviously a security risk that could allow criminals, ex-boyfriends and that one dude who keeps putting out flyers for acoustic guitar lessons the run of the place. If the resident clears a certain person to always be allowed in, that’s one thing. If not, call up!

Don’t judge residents (in front of their faces). Doormen, like Zuul in Ghostbusters II, are the gatekeepers to the building, both literally and metaphorically. They allow people in to the building. They also know who is ordering food. And who is getting a package. Well, with great power comes great responsibility. If a certain resident orders the same drunken noodles from the same place at the same time every day, don’t make comments about it. That could make the resident feel embarrassed, and then she won’t be able to order anymore and could likely starve to death! Ahem. Anyway, if residents are catching on that you’re spreading gossip about them to other residents, they’re likely to take it to your supervisor. If you must mock them, do it with your friends over cocktails. It’s much more polite.

Don’t only be nice to your residents around the holidays. We’re on to your game!

What are some of your tips for residents who have doormen or for the doormen themselves?

-Jessica Fiur, News Editor

Photo credit: Noah Golan