Doorman Dos and Don'ts, for NYC Doorman Rental Building Residents

Published on Jun 28, 2012

Full disclosure: in my 30+ years of living in Manhattan and Brooklyn rental apartments, I have never had a doorman. Never known the joys of hassle-free deliveries, or the security of having some guy sit in the lobby all night; never known the awkwardness of forced cheeriness, or "getting busted" for late-night shenanigans.

But if the day should ever come that I do move into doorman NYC rental apartment--and, given the astonishing number of gleaming new luxury Manhattan and Brooklyn no-fee rentals over the past few years, complete with doormen, you never know--I'll be glad I read Jake Mooney's recent New York Times Getting Started column on doorman etiquette for beginners.

Even if you've long lived in a NYC doorman rental apartment, the piece is worth reading, just to double-check that you're not doing anything "wrong". But for newcomers to the world of NYC doorman buildings, there are a couple of key points: first, learn what your doorman does (he isn't the handyman, for instance), and if you ask him to help you with something beyond his regular job description--watering your plants or feeding your fish while you're on vacation is not unheard of--make sure he understands that you'll pay him extra.

And, maybe even more important, apparently, is the second key point: Smile. Please. You don't have to chat, or become best buddies. But basic good manners and common friendliness are always a good idea. “You’d be surprised," says doorman Dominick Torres, a 30-year vet on the Upper East Side. "A nice, pleasant smile will get you a long way.”

And what can you do about a doorman who doesn't open the doors? Well, as the Daily News recently explained in their "Ask an Expert" series, it might just be that he isn't, in fact, really a doorman at all.

Some NYC rental apartment buildings station security guards in the lobby who, of course, are useful for providing deterrence and protection, but because they don't belong to the doorman's union they can't perform many of a doorman's standard functions. Such as: accepting packages, hailing taxis... or holding the door.

In some cases, the building has what's called an attended lobby. The person at the desk may be more than a security guard, taking packages, announcing guests, and other duties. Needless to say, these non-union security guards and lobby attendents get paid a lot less than unionized doormen, so it's only fair that your landlord doesn't charge you NYC rental apartment true-doorman building rates. Though they often do.

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