Although you might think most doormen prefer the day shift over the night, it really depends on the guy. A family man might push hard for the day, to be home in time for supper. Meanwhile, not having anyone to go home to, a single doorman might not mind working the night.
In my time, I’ve had the opportunity to do both shifts, and there are perks that come along with them both. The day shift tends to be busier, so it can seem to go by quicker. The quieter nightshift leaves a doorman more accessible and more visible to many more residents coming home from work when they tend to be more talkative and lasting relationships are more likely to be formed. This can help when holiday tip time comes around.
The bags under some eyes, the slow dragging feet and the smell of freshly brewed coffee intertwining with different scents of perfume and cologne coming from the elevators signal the start to another wonderful day.
Saying “Good morning” a trillion times can make us feel like robots. So, we switch it up with a few “How are you’s” and “Have a nice days" while always remembering to say it with a smile.
We distribute newspapers, sweep the lobby and sidewalk, Windex mirrors and glass doors, and lay out carpets or pick them up, depending on the weather. (Fyi, it’s safe to say that all doormen love the sun.)
As residents head off to work, we deal with an onslaught of traffic coming the other way.
First come the nannies and housecleaners, all of them vying for first dibs on the larger washing machines. There’s the usual complaints about someone hogging up the machines, or removing someone else’s clothing from a machine, and one or more machines simply not working at all.
We might as well be wearing a striped referee shirt instead. It’s up to us to kindly approach another nanny, housecleaner, or resident and politely ask them if they had removed anything from a specific machine. (If all machines are being used up, there’s simply nothing one can do. If someone has left their clothes in a machine too long then hey, there are other people that have to used them also. The real mess is removing someone’s belongings way before they are finished. It happens more often than not.)
Contractors then arrive lugging in their materials, tools, and everything else including the kitchen sink. The constant sounds of drilling, nailing, and screwing can be a nerve-racking ordeal for everyone in a building, including us staff stuck at our posts.
Meanwhile, we also have our share of FedEx, UPS, drycleaning, mail and lunch deliveries, as well as nannies dropping by for playdates, perhaps a broker with a potential buyer to show an apartment and maybe a random visit by some city inspector, making sure there are no kinds of violations throughout the building.
The day shift can literally become a multi-tasking of sorts with buzzing on the intercom, radioing a super or handyman, while still having to interact with different people entering or leaving, writing little memos in the log book, and handling packages or luggage.
Coffee? Forget that! It’s a Red Bull or nothing.
As the day runs its course, the baton is then handed off to the next guy, who settles in somewhere between the hours of three to five o’clock, depending on the building.
The nighttime guy is immediately challenged with the job of handing out whatever packages and cleaning, envelopes, bags, etc, that has accumulated in the closet during the day to the residents making their way back home from work.
As the evening progresses, doormen also deal with the constant arrival of food deliveries, (mostly Chinese, followed by Italian, Japanese and Mexican) that, on many occasions has made me wonder, “Doesn’t anyone ever cook?"
The night may bring about an occasional complaint of noise, lack of heat, or a funky smell of some sort.
As the clock continues ticking, doormen get to see some people sober, dressed to impress and stepping out for the night. Sometimes they return distressed or a drunken mess.
And while the night can drift off into a quiet and sometimes lonely time at the door, it can also bring out another side to a doorman like therapist, movie critic, sports analyst, and weatherman.
This is all due to the fact that the night seems to be a time where many residents are a bit more relaxed. They tend to talk to doormen more openly, inquiring about things, needing to vent, or feeling just plain lonely. All this socializing is great for a doorman who was falling asleep, bad for another who may feel like dozing off in mid conversation or simply exhausted from working on a double.
As for me getting older, I guess working the day isn’t so bad.