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Two kinds of individuals live in the co-op building where I work: The kind who own and the kind who rent from those who own. You might think that the staff extends the same service to both. You would be wrong.
Lifers vs squatters
Under the rules of the building, renters can only stick around for 2 years max, whereas owners are here anywhere from a few years to life. With owners, we build long term relationships. And while some of us may not really get along with an owner or may have had some kind of issue, the fact remains we’re stuck with these individuals and we have to make do.
So when it comes to breaking the rules on some occasions, we may tend to let some things slide--like allowing a delivery on a day where a building does not, or maybe turning a blind eye to a contractor working in someone’s apartment during forbidden hours. If someone else inquires about what is going on, we’ll say, “It was an emergency,” or “This person has been sick lately, so (whatever) had to be done.”
But oftentimes for renters, this kind of hassle just isn’t worth it.
Guilty by association
Through no fault of their own, some renters start out on the wrong foot by renting from an owner who is unpopular with the staff. Basically, if the owner is known as a pain or an above-average complainer, we may not go out of our way to make the renter’s life any easier by handling the little things that arise from day to day. If the toilet is always getting stopped up or you lost your building key, our mentality is, “Take it up with your landlord first.”
Absentee owners need to understand that whether or not they are living in their apartment, the staff are the only ones that will always be on duty to take care of an emergency in the apartment. Some owners send out tip envelopes showing their appreciation. It's generally a one-shot deal only for the holidays, but at least the thought and acknowledgment is there.
Some renters are just not that interested in tipping, and again, feel it is also the owner’s job to do so. This mentality also extends into holiday-time tipping.
We can practically hear the renters rationalize: “I’m not going to be here for that long, I'll give a little something." (Translation: Not enough.) Or the classic “Let the owner give them something.”
A renter who leaves all tipping to the owner will see a clear difference in the way they are treated, versus a renter who tips even a buck or two every now and then, outside of the holidays. It’s a recognition that doormen and other staff guys are here to try and simplify life, and even modest generosity goes a long way.