Calling all Manhattan Doormen!

I’m looking to interview several doormen working in New York City for my book “At Your Service.” If you or anyone you know is a doormen in a residential building, please email me at Confidentiality assured.

I would also like to interview Manhattanites who live in a doorman building! If you’d like to talk about the ins and outs of tipping during the holidays, please write me at my email and we’ll set up an interview.

26 thoughts on “Calling all Manhattan Doormen!”

  1. mary cuevas says:

    hi waiter,
    i know of a very interesting character you might be interested in interviewing for your book. her name is joan and she has been the doorwoman of this old historic building downtown where i lived for years. i’d say she is mid-40s, early 50s now.

    she used to shave her head about an inch in length. she has taken to wearing a long pony-tail hair piece reminiscent of 60’s hair-dos now.:)

    anyway, for years she never looked anyone in the eye. she does now…sometimes. she took her job very seriously and always makes us sign out for a spare key if we have locked ourselves out…even if we promise to be right back. sometimes she won’t give the key to us and escorts us up.

    other doormen we had could give a damn and just looked at us as a major inconvenience and interruption to their napping, newspaper reading, or tiny portable t.v. wathcing.:)

    joan always gets up from her front desk position to open the door for us. she brings our newspapers to all of our doors. other doormen didn’t do that.

    anyway, let me know if you want contact info on her. think you have my email.:)

  2. Dr. Electro says:

    Neat story, Mary. How much did you tip her under normal circumstances? I’ve never lived in a building like yours so I have no idea what a proper tip amount is.

  3. Charles Stacy Richardson says:

    “If you’d like to talk about the in’s and out’s of tipping during the holidays . . . ”

    I’d like to know about the ins and outs of spelling “ins” and “outs” with unnecessary apostrophes. The words “ins” and “outs” don’t take an apostrophe because neither word is being used as a possessive.

  4. macman237 says:

    I can’t wait to see the book 🙂

  5. Chris says:

    If you haven’t checked it out yet, try Peter’s Help a Reporter Our mailing list.

  6. Anonymous says:

    hey “chas” you jack ass

    and my use of no caps and this word will probably really offend you BUT

    IRREGUARDLESS of the grammatical rules I have to say it looks a whole lot better to use the ‘s than not in that phrasing

    and who made you the freaking web english usage police-go whine about real nightmares like the spelling on the avg student’s blog

    and yeas I know they are bad I tutored english in college and was so anal about the rules my english prof the semi-retired former dept head told me just before my final with him I should just relax a bit in my writing as I was too formal.

  7. Sleeplessgirl says:

    In California, we don’t have doormen, but we do have people that manage our condo complexes, such as HOA office staff and maintenace/custodial staff. I’d love to read about what they should be tipped. Last year, I brought them a poinsettia and a nice box of chocolates, but maybe I should have brought cash?

  8. mary cuevas says:

    hi anonymous,
    funny calling charles “chas.”:)

    i use lower case all the time when sending emails. just do it because it is easier and faster. i am new blogger and imported a few old emails i sent out to folks that garnered many comments and controversy/dialogue to my blog. after reading a little more about blogging i have since changed all lower case posts to proper caps. what a job that was.:)

    i was once being set up on a blind date with a guy friends thought i’d have a lot in common. he was a ucla grad, history major, photographer for a newspaper. anyway, we were emailing before our scheduled date.

    he said girls are the only ones that use lower case. when i told him my brother and lots of men i knew used lower case, he went weird on me. close call. i cancelled the date.

    and to sleepless girl, i also live in california. joan is our doorwomen.:) she is something else. really knows all the tenants and looks out for us.

    i don’t live there anymore, but still have friends in the building. so see her all the time. and she always tells me when a new unit with ocean view is available. she tells me i should check it out. guess she misses me.:)

  9. Marti says:

    My in-law siblings live in a building in the UWS that doesn’t have a doorman, but DOES have a handful of elevator men. It’s an old-fashioned lever and sliding-grate elevator and the guys who work it also sometimes come to the assistance of people at the door. They hold packages for people, grab spare keys, run messages, and so on. They even manage to remember where guests of the people living there need to go. I’m sure they don’t see us more than once every couple of months but they know us. It’s amazing. They’re really nice guys.

  10. NS Foster says:

    Might be of use to you, Waiter. OK, you may have a name now, but it’s difficult to think of you that way 😉

  11. griff says:

    yo steve, there is already a book titled “At Your Service: A hands on guide to the professional dining room” by John Fischer

  12. kim says:

    I live on the west coast, but when I was growing up, my parents used to tip everyone a bottle of whiskey — the postman, the gardener, the garbage man, the tree sprayer, etc. Good whiskey (not great whiskey).
    My father was an inspector, and he got bottles of good whiskey from contractors for Christmas, but didn’t drink it. Ten years after he retired we still had a case of it in the closet. And that was from before he convinced the contractors that he would prefer Scotch or liquors. He consumed the liquors over vanilla ice cream. Well, we all did….

  13. Hananh-Moon says:

    Here’s a bit of tipping advice I think you should find out for your book.

    I’m not sure where I heard this, but apparently you’re only suppose to tip hair dressers who are paid hourly by the owner of a salon. If the hair dresser rents his or her space from a salon owner and then keeps all of his or her money save for what goes towards taxes and rent, you’re not suppose to tip him or her.

    I’m not sure if that’s correct or not, but it’d be nice to know, especially for hair dressers that do predominantly women’s hair. Men’s hair cuts tend to be cheapter than women’s who can do cut, color, highlight, nails, etc until we’ve raked up $60 bills.

  14. Erin says:

    I wouldn’t count on that. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to tip ALL hair dressers.

  15. Kirk Fleming says:

    There is a book called “Doormen” by Peter Bearmen that discusses tipping and more for Manhattan doormen.

  16. Sharon says:

    Hi Waiter,
    It would be really helpful and interesting if you did an article on holiday “bonuses”, since right now it’s that time of year. Several friends have mentioned wondering what they’re supposed to give their dog walkers / doormen / garage attendants / postmen / maintenance people / management office etc. The list of people you’re supposed to give money to for the holidays just goes on and on. My husband and I don’t really know what we’re supposed to give, but we know what we can afford and are comfortable with, so we’re just going based off of that. Anyway, you don’t update much anymore, but I just thought that was something you might want to consider.

  17. Deena says:

    Pretty please! You have to get the doorman that works at Howard Stern’s building. Surely your powers at be could find that out. I’ve listened to Howard for years and he’s made references to his doormen several times. Regis Philbin lives in the same building, and I think Jon Bon Jovi does too. He’s mentioned several times about getting in the elevator with them. Howard tips everybody and it’s a good source of conversation especially this time of year.

  18. frank D says:

    As a former member of a co-op board in NYC we established a side fund whereby ALL residents would be asked on a “voluntary” basis contribute money into this fund. This side fund would have a committee oversee the collections.

    The committee would also create a schedule including ALL the service employees who shall share in the distribution of this side fund. The fractional share of the total for each named employee would be determined by the committee based on written comments received by the residents who participated.

    While this process included certain arbitrary valuation assumptions it seemed to solve more problems than it created as a year end holiday reward.

    The idea was to pass along each residents contribution for service provided from the staff on a basis which resolved preferred treatment or slighted feelings. Also resident wouldn’t be pitted against resident for the attention of staff based on their largess or lack thereof as all contributions were kept undisclosed to the staff employees. Many residents would also “tip as you go” thereby paying their gratitude all through-out the year instead of one year-end amount attributed to the holidays. Each staff employee would say they would prefer this method of residents paying-as-you-go but human nature being what it is these same employees would admit to feeling “stiffed” at year-end if they did not receive a year-end amount in addition to that method.

    If a resident still insisted on rewarding a particular staff employee individually it was strongly suggested the gift be de-minimus or homemade and identified to a specific additional service provided to that resident.

    Of course I must add all that was when $100 was a big deal and today ten times that is probably an insult !

    Anyway Happy Holidays


  19. Dave says:

    frank, that’s the way it works in many/most highrise buildings in Chicago. And frankly it more of a nicety than expected. Probably less than 20% donate to the fund here and $100 would be plenty.

    In Chicago, the doormen and janitors are union and make way more than they should already. The whole tip the super thing only applies to New York, you never do that in Chicago or anywhere else I’ve lived (Dallas, St Louis, Indianapolis etc)

  20. anon says:

    Not all doormen, supers, porters in NYC are union (although probably most are in Manhattan). I live in a co-op in a middle-class area of Brooklyn and none of our employees are union. These employees earn something a little bit above minimum wage and have no health insurance (except for the Super). Consequently, I always feel obligated to give them a nice tip around Xmas.

  21. anon says:

    One more thing. We don’t take up a general collection. It is up to the individual residents to tip the co-op’s workers. I tip the Super $50 only because he is the bldg. Super (he doesn’t seem to do much) and the rest of the workers I tip $40 each. It’s a fair amount of money for someone in my income bracket.

  22. greenwich village says:

    I live in downtown Manhattan and our doormen, porters, maintenance, etc are not union. I have no idea what they earn. I tip them all–and there are 25 of them!

    And in nyc, you tip cash, unless you’re unemployed. A bottle of whiskey, cookies, does not fly. If you can’t afford to tip, then you can’t afford to live in that building.

    To the former co-op board member who talked about their building’s policy of having tenants contribute to a general pool that the management divides equally among the staff–that still goes on here in Manhattan, however, I know that tenants then feel obligated to separately slip some cash to building workers directly. So the general pool idea solves nothing.

    In the end, to not tip means fewer favors throughout the coming year.

  23. Antoine says:


  24. Daniele says:

    A doorman is an individual hired to provide courtesy and security services at a residential building or hotel. They are particularly common in urban luxury highrises. At a residential building, a doorman is responsible for opening doors … am I right?

  25. gloria says:

    my husband has been a doorman for three years now. he seems to like it very much and is constantly meeting famous people. he has met Placido Domingo and even shaken his hand. what a treat. He has seen Ethan Hawke, katie Holmes and personally knows the doctor that delivered Madonna’s first born. Although, at times, he gets a little frustrated because people feel that they need to be served on a silver platter whenever required, and when the holidays approach, they are not as considerate. Overall, he is well liked, but the schedule is horrible when there are small children involved.

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