Doorman Tip Redux

I’m sitting in the cigar shop again, basking in my post Today Show glory when Philo comes in to pick up a smoke on his way to work.

“I got a six hundred dollar tip today,” he crows.

“That’s great I say. “Congrats.”

“That shit when right into my pocket.”

“Righteous. How are the other tenants tipping?”

“Those motherfuckers,” Philo says. “Some of them gave us only twenty or thirty lousy dollars.”

“That sucks,” I say.

“And you know what? Those cheap motherfuckers are the ones who bust our balls all year but screw us at Christmas.”

“Then maybe they can no longer afford to live in a doorman building,” I say.

“Fuck an A right.”

Well, since real estate is a blood sport in Manhattan, if people decamp to more economically realistic abodes, someone will take their place in a New York minute.

“Okay guys,” Philo says, an unlit cigar stuck in his mouth. “I’ll be seeing you.”

“Tell those cheap bastards you should be getting a hundred – at least,” one of the other customers shouts.

“We’ll see,” Philo says as he stomps out the door, heading off to take care of people who very often don’t take care of him.

34 thoughts on “Doorman Tip Redux”

  1. Dennis says:

    First! Glad to see you’re still alive Steve.

  2. Jimmy Rogers says:

    Just so you can fix it…

    “someone will take there place in a New York minute.”

    I think you mean “their.”

    Liked the last two posts about Philo!

  3. MHA says:

    I love the idea of someone being as generous as that. A $600 tip is a nice holiday treat. But I hate the idea that a $20-30 tip is taken as an insult. How crazy! I don’t know the sort of folks in Philo’s building, but I have to imagine they’re not all rolling in spare cash. Some of them, like many of us, may be stretched thin for any number of reasons.

    In your previous post you hinted that someone whose husband just got laid off should “just” buy lunch for staff at the salon. Really? Someone whose husband just got laid off is probably terrified, and shouldn’t be hounded to lay out extra cash either as cash or as a restaurant tab.

  4. Mark says:

    I don’t live anywhere remotely near New York, and have no experience with doormen here on the west coast – what do these guys actually do that justifies a $600 tip? This guy seems really presumptuous…

  5. Bill says:

    Mark you are right, they don’t really do anything to justify $20, let alone $600. I want to scream to them: YOU ARE A DOORMAN. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY GET A REAL JOB. Now everyone wants money, but nobody wants to do the work to get it. Tips have gotten out of control, to the point where everyone now has their hand out.

  6. Dave says:

    Most apt buildings of any size will have at least a dozen faces on the staff holiday card, all of whom need to be tipped. That can add up, especially if the resident is having to cut back on expenses.

    My building has 225 units. I can’t speak for other residents, but we tip an average of $50 per person. If everyone did that, it would add up to over $11K. Cash money. Hard to see how someone wouldn’t appreciate that…

  7. thatgirl says:

    i couldn’t imagine leaving someone a $600 tip. i guess that shows what kind of lifestyle i have. i do; however, agree to the fact that if you can’t afford to tip, you really can’t afford to be eating out.

  8. mags says:

    WOW! You were really great on the Today show. Very cool!

  9. BarbinDC says:

    Having finished your latest book not too long ago, I have become exceedingly conscientious about tipping. Went to Home Depot a couple of days ago to get a tree. It was cold and snowing; but the young man in charge of the tree department couldn’t have been more accommodating. When he suggested that I get a cheaper tree, just because he liked that kind better–it was fuller of foliage, I was really impressed. Then, he happily sawed off the bottom to where I wanted and explained the logistics of tree stands. In days past, I wouldn’t have thought to tip the guy. But, after reading your book, I pulled out a ten spot and he was just thrilled. It was SOOOO worth it!

  10. Derdriui says:

    Wow! The ways of the rich, eh?!

    The only places I’ve been to with doormen are hotels. Do you… stop at the door and give them money? Hand them an envelope when you’re checking out?

  11. at8ax says:

    “Fuck an A”? All my life, I’ve understood that as “Fuckin’ A,” but now you’ve got me thinking about it…. Hmm! (Great to hear you on NPR the other day.)

  12. anonymous says:

    “Fuckin’ A”

  13. Margaret Harrison says:

    Great interview, I hope your book is selling well. I have my copy!

  14. Suz says:

    I don’t know what is more obnoxious, the fact that you are calling yourself guru, or that you speak in the third person when responding to comments. You are different. I’m sorry I bought your books.

  15. Mike says:


    The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph had a pro-tipping editorial that you and your readers might enjoy. Clinking on my name(above) should link you to the article.


  16. Mike says:

    Suz, what are you talking about?

  17. Upper East Sider says:

    Advocating for $100 per building staff?

    Waiter, you’re better than that.

    My building has 12 staff, each of theme deserve 100 dollars from each person?

    That’s 1,200 per unit.

    Given the 300 units, that would amount to a 30,000 tip per person.



    1. guru says:

      Well if you live in a doorman building and enjoy it’s amenities, yes, you should tip. When you moved into your building did you not take holiday tipping into account? Forgot? When you think about it you’d have to tip out $1200. That’s $3.28 a day – a fancy Starbucks drink – to sock away for X-Mas. If you can’t give one hundred, maybe only $50, then that number falls to $1.64 a day. One small coffee at a fancy coffee shop.

      Also factor in that they’re are so many cheapskates that only a third of the building will probably give and those who do give will tip much less than the standard amount. So the doorman will probably make 10 grand. An amount that’s very important to them.

      So yeah, I’m advocating that’s what doormen should get. If you cant, then give them something to acknowledge their service all year. But if you can’t give ANYTHING you’re living beyond your means and can’t afford to live in a doorman building. Sorry.

  18. rob says:

    I’ve said before a long time ago that I think the problem is in the language of tipping.
    A tip for me is something akin to saying ‘keep the change’. It’s just a little bit extra.

    I see it like this – the tenant pays the building owners, the building owners pay the doormen. The doormen do their job because they get paid.
    If the doorman does an awesome job above and beyond their expected role then they deserve a tip. They get a bit extra because they did a bit extra.
    But if the doorman does nothing extra then they deserve nothing extra.
    If a tenant doesn’t speak a word to the dorrman all year besides saying ‘good day’ why should they tip? They have received no extra service.

    If there is an expectation that tenants pay doormen £100+ at Christmas than perhaps this should be included in some sort of contract or building code of conduct.

    I’ve never liked the idea that tips are compulsory, and it’s always struck me as ugly when people complain the tip wasn’t big enough.

    But, then again, I’m English – we don’t have the same history and culture of tipping as you chaps over there.
    Without any anti-american sentiment at all, I think you’ve got yourselves into a bloody big mess in regards of whether a tip is a way of saying Thanks or a way of Paying for service.

  19. Reader says:

    $600 tip? What a load of shit.

    And that Philo character sounds like a real class act.

  20. Upper East Sider says:

    I’m not advocating against tipping doormen & building staff — far from it.
    I do however disagree with tipping more because other people could be cheapskates.

    Do I tip extra when I’m out to dinner because the table next to me might be cheap?

    We’re actually in agreement here — I think the 10k cash bonus at the end of the year is a valid number to target from the building, but I don’t feel it’s my responsibility to throw in extra because my neighbor potentially sucks.

    I’d like to think that 10K tax except is a nice chunk of change.

  21. Christine says:

    In Canada, we pay a Maintenance fee for having extra security in our buildings. I have never heard of anyone tipping extra on top of that. Ditto for hair dressers, I tip well throughout the year but it wouldn’t occur to me to tip more at Christmas and I don’t know anyone else who does that.

    I’m assuming this Christmas tipping is purely an American thing?

  22. MM says:

    I tip people who I believe deserve it, not anyone who says they’ll give me worse service if I don’t. What a bunch of entitlement bullshit- just because I bought myself a new cellphone doesn’t mean that I need to give out Christmas presents to folks for doing their jobs. I’ve been a waitress, but I’ve spent far more time in the back of the house than the front (I’m a sous chef in a very nice restaurant on Palm Beach). I can’t believe the bitching from some of the waiters there. “That guy ordered 3 lobsters and only tipped 10%.” What percentage of their three lobsters did I get, as the person who prepared and plated? They might have to take crap from the customers, but we are back there working just as hard them (oftentimes much, much harder) and we don’t get tips. Am I less deserving in some fashion? I work in the hospitality industry as well and work 8-16 hour days sometimes- where’s my $100 from each of my regular customers in December? No one is entitled to gratuity- NO ONE. That’s why they call it gratuity. I tip well when I eat out, as long as the service is good. I tip well when I take a cab, as long as he doesn’t drive like a complete maniac. I tip well when I go and get my monthly massages. But I don’t feel obligated to give all these people Christmas presents (which is basically what you are recommending, this isn’t tipping this is just gift-giving) just for doing their job all year. Yes I love my masseuse, but my reward for her doing her job all year is me paying and tipping her at the time of service.

    I’ve always been a fan, but this is sort of silly. My child has a similar feeling of entitlement, but she has a good excuse- she’s 2. I invite this doorman and those like him to get a job that pays what you need so you don’t have to extort your customers at the end of the year.

  23. Grace says:

    But 20-30 is a LOT for a tip, I get around that much a WEEK!
    It just baffles me that people think thats such a small amount of money.

  24. JB says:

    I just don’t get why tips are expected for a salaried worker. My doormen for my building are paid a salary which comes out of the monthly assessment I pay. Am I wrong for thinking tips are for people that Do Not make a salary? (ie a manager in a restaurant typically gets paid a salary and is not able to collect tips, right?)

  25. Skip says:

    JB, you make an excellent point. Many times on this site (especially early on) the argument for tipping was that it is because servers get paid less than minimum wage. Where does all this end? I provide a service for my clients all year. Many of them think they are my only client. I never get tipped. The best that I can hope for is some cookies and the like at Christmas or dinner brought in during tax season. Ah yes, I should have mentioned I work for a CPA firm.

    So where’s MY tip?

  26. BuBuBuBlair says:

    Enjoyed the 2nd book Mr. Guru, just ordered your 1st one from Big Am for the Kindle. FnB was my life, made good paper since ’71, never once thought about the microcosmic relationships, I had my heard so far up my ass thinking it was the showman that brought in the bucks….so dumb for all those years? I wish I could have read your book in the 70’s, KachingKaching….me thinks you should capitalise on your moniker by developing products that could assist customers with their tipping ignorance, or let’s say…no – it is not a town in China, we would be glad to show you where it really is? Send me a throw-away email address.

  27. Ulysses says:

    Wow, what entitlement on this doorman’s part. Really? You should just get thousands of dollars from your collective clientele just because it’s Christmas? Door man is an easy, mindless, stupid job. Doesn’t say anything about the people who DO the work, but gimme a break with this guy. If I get ONE tip that large, the rest of the people can give me 2 bucks each and the karmic balance would still be so heavily in my favor that I’d be thrilled.

  28. frankD says:


    as i mentioned when this was originally discussed, it is the building BOARD that should address this matter

    when i served on a co-op BOARD, we would solicit annonymous donations from all tenants, during november, and participating tenants could also submit their preferences on their desired disbursement distribution of the total

    these funds were seperate and appart from all other operating and reserve funds and all receipts were disbursed in total directly to various building workers

    the discrepancy in our NYC building was many elderly living on fixed incomes were protected by law in their rent-controlled units could not afford the year end gratuities that many newly enriched insider-purchasing wall street tycoons-to-be could afford

    the idea was to give as generously as one could afford from all tenants in total, without creating bad feelings among both workers and tenants, in the spirit of and for the the good of its intended purpose


  29. Father of Ten in Kansas says:

    Man alive! Not only do I not have a doorman, masseusse, hairdresser, or other service person to try to figure how much to tip, I’m failry certain I don’t even know anyone who does. Is this a rich person thing or a New York thing or something?

  30. MH says:

    I work as a server and don’t expect tips at all. They are greatly appreciated since my hourly wage is well under the federal min. I certainly don’t expect more during the holidays.

  31. Jay says:

    I am a New York City Doorman and i can tell you that throughout the whole year we bust our behinds helping the tenants year round.. Either we are carrying your stuff inside, hold your umbrella, grab your car door, greet you, take care of your packages, cleaners, etc. I have been cursed at, insulted, made to feel less worthy then the tenants. I know everybody’s first and last name, including the parents, siblings, friends, cousins, kids, pets. I rarely get tipped during the year and the people that you help the most tend to tip the worst. We do a lot of extra stuff that the tenants assume is our job responsibility. Tenants tend to tip on seniority and not on who helped the most. I make barely enough to afford living in new york city and the christmas bonus really helps out.

    Salary $600 a week/ $2400 a month
    Rent: $1200
    Food: $300
    Transportation: $150
    Insurance :$200
    Clothes: $300
    Entertainment :$150
    Total : $2300

    Also I really don’t appreciate people that say being a doorman is not a real job.

  32. Tommy says:

    Dear New York city doorman (plus other ‘tip deserving’ people). By the look of the money you earn, it sounds pretty good! True, you may not be one of the high earners like in your building but there are plenty of people that would love to earn $2400 per month to open some doors and carry some bags inside. I live in a major capital European city and i do not earn that much and i never get tipped for doing my job. I work 60-80 hours a week, and i live comfortably.
    I do believe you have real job and you probably work very hard, but if you don’t like the fact that you get bad tips from people (people that you know nothing of their financial situation, they may work to the bone to pay for this nice home and not have much left to supplement you), then you can always leave NY and get a job somewhere else.
    I realize there is a slight annoyance with us Europeans with tipping, but we also feel the same way with Americans tipping everyone something. I don’t work my whole life to tip every Tom, Dick and Harry! I work for myself and my family and tip if i believe someone has done something extra to earn this.

  33. g-dog says:

    30,000 tip.You are a fucking idiot

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