I live in a doorman building. In my New York City Life, I have always lived in doorman buildings.
In my last building, the staff were Family. The doormen knew all my girlfriends by name. They cheered me on for the Marathon, and got special permission to wear the t-shirts I made instead of their uniforms on Marathon Sunday.
In my current building, the staff are Political. They play favourites. They are careless; sometimes even mean. For instance, they have sent my laundry off to the wrong laundry company Just Because – which turned into a multi-day drama where the offending doorman gave my phone number out to the woman whose laundry account they charged, and even after I paid her back, she repeatedly called and texted me to complain – as if I had scammed her.
There were so many things wrong with that situation (from the sending of my laundry to a random company, to giving my contact details to a stranger without my consent, to forcing ME to pay for something I didn’t want), that it was laughable. It was something that simply shouldn’t have happened in a luxury high rise. It was something that would never would have happened in my old building – and if it did somehow happen, the building would’ve paid for it; no one would’ve gotten mixed up with strangers angry-texting strangers.
Also, we recently begun renovations on our apartment, and my relationship with the staff had deteriorated considerably. They kept finding “issues” with our construction, each of which set us back weeks and cost thousands of dollars. The setbacks meant I couldn’t use my living room or kitchen…for weeks…and had to go out every night. Being that social had left me irritable.
With that for context, a few Mondays ago, I went to dinner with a friend, but on the way home, I got into a rather heated phone conversation over something over which I had no control (this was a conversation unrelated to the building, btw). I am not normally one of those women who stands outside a building screaming into her mobile phone like a petulant teenager, but on that night, after half a bottle of wine, and several weeks of demolition dust, I hit a wall.
So I stood outside my building – unwilling to go upstairs into my destroyed apartment – screeching. Flailing. Gesticulating wildly, as if the person on the other end could hear my hands. In my younger days, I might have even thrown the phone against the wall, but I was slightly older and with the one shred of sanity I had left, I remembered that our IT guy told me that he was going to start charging me for phones if I kept losing them and/or breaking them.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my doormen watching me making a total fool of myself on the street. It wasn’t late enough for me to have privacy for my tantrum, and people who were out walking their dogs were actively avoiding me on the street. I could see the doorman who asked me every night where I’d been hovering at the desk at an angle where he was in my direct line of sight; I could see his colleague angling for a better view.
A ten minute eternity later, I slunk into the building, not making eye contact with the doormen. Then I went upstairs, and changed clothes to come down and walk the dog. Naturally, I acted like nothing happened. But on the inside, I was panicking. Because in our building it was fine to be selfish or stupid, but you couldn’t be embarrassing without consequence. And I had just behaved quite embarrassingly.
Then, a solution dawned on me.
On the way back in from our walk, I said loudly to the dog (within earshot of the doorman), C’mon Roo, let’s go back inside and see your Auntie.
The next morning, I did the same thing – except I walked the dog at a different time than usual, and I changed clothes each time I came in and out of the building and took my rings on and off for the rest of the week.
That Thursday, I left for a one-day trip to London, which was the perfect time to bring my plan to its natural conclusion. I travelled with only my trusty bright orange backpack, which was hard to miss as a piece of luggage. Upon my arrival, home the next day, I extravagantly greeted the doormen, then went upstairs, changed clothes, threw what I had been wearing into an old overnight bag, and left again.
Leaving again so soon, Miss S?!
What? No! You didn’t know? I’m her sister. I’ve been visiting all week – we’re twins!
As the doorman’s jaw hung slack, I walked out of the building, went around the corner, put the bag in my car, and changed back into my clothes in the back seat of my Jetta (much to the chagrin of the parking attendant). Then I walked to Starbucks to kill some time before coming home as myself again, just as Paul was arriving.
Since the week my nameless twin sister came to visit, every single member of staff has been exceptionally polite to me – presumably because they are unsure whether their experiences have been with me or with my twin.
I am sure there are less drastic ways to deal with judgmental doormen over what probably seems like a minor incident, but if you have never lived in a NYC doorman building, you simply wouldn’t understand.