Let Me Get That For You
DOMINICK TORRES, a doorman on the Upper East Side who knows the name of almost every tenant in his 689-unit building, says he can often spot a certain something in the eye of new residents. Whether it manifests itself as unease or presumption, it is the look of someone who has never lived in a building with a doorman before, and does not know quite how to act.
Their requests, Mr. Torres said, run the gamut: “Could you please get the handyman, tell him I’m having problems with my sink?” or “Could you let me in? I’m locked out” or “What’s going on with my neighbor upstairs?”
The confusing thing, for new residents, is that none of these questions are necessarily inappropriate — but they could be, in the wrong tone of voice. Beyond the tipping questions that surface every Christmas, the year-round etiquette of dealing with a doorman — someone who sees you come and go, knows who your friends are, what you order online and what kind of takeout food you like — is both complex and unwritten. And, for some people new to the social dynamic, intimidating.
On top of that, said Frances Katzen, a managing director at Prudential Douglas Elliman, living in the city has a way of eroding manners.
“People shut down, because New York is so intense,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Don’t come near me, I’m done.”
Moreover, she added, “They have no clue about the etiquette.”
Mr. Torres, who has been at his building, Yorkshire Towers on East 86th Street, for nearly 30 years, said basic social skills were more important than a generous tip.
“I believe that there’s a way to live life,” said Mark Ripka, the president for brokerage services of the MNS agency. “I always treat people with respect, I take an interest in people, because it feels like the right thing to do.”
So, he said, he is careful to get to know doormen.
“I don’t necessarily know every single thing about every single person with whom I come into contact, nor do I probably want to,” Mr. Ripka said. “But I want to have a basis for relating with them. If you come with a sense of entitlement, like, ‘I bought in here so you owe me,’ you’re getting the relationship off on the wrong foot. It’s kind of like any relationship. If you’re willing to be a little vulnerable, you can connect with people in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise.”Magazine · Newspaper