Are Doormen Necessary?
People move to big, bad New York City, puff out their chests, and declare that they're ready to take on the world. If they can make it here, they can make it anywhere! But they can't make it without a smiling babysitter paid to open the door for them. Or can they?
Hamilton Nolan: Doormen are unnecessary. Open your own fucking door. How people have come to believe that they *need* to live in a building with a doorman—even though they are not, technically, a member of the British Royal Family—is completely beyond me. A building with a doorman is exactly like a regular apartment building, but you pay several hundred dollars per month more for it. In return, a man wearing a funny costume will open the door when you walk in. "He also takes packages," says everyone with a doorman, in unison.
Oh. Good. Cool. Great deal. Hundreds of dollars per month—and a hefty tip at Christmas—to do two tasks that anyone who is not paraplegic does on a regular basis without even thinking it's a chore. Doormen solve a problem that does not exist, and are well compensated for doing so. The loser: you, the lazy sucker. You also look bougie.
Brian Moylan: Yes, Hamilton, you're right. Having a doorman makes me look like a snooty, upper-class asshole, and I thought the same way you did when I moved from a fourth-floor walk-up in a converted tenement to a pre-War co-op with a doorman (not brags, just facts) about a year ago. I thought when I moved in, "This is annoying and weird and I don't know what to say to these people and I'm never going to use them." Cut to a year later when I have them sign for my packages (yes), but also leave things for friends to swing by and pick up with them, and have items dropped off for me. Yes, it's a convenience, but it's one that I've learned to embrace.
With my initial doorman confusion, I didn't know if I was supposed to say "Hi" or "Good morning" or what, so I started saluting at the doormen. It just seemed natural, now they all call me "Captain," and it is sort of nice to come home everyday and have someone say, "Hey, Captain!" It adds a little bit of humanity to the cold, anonymous world of New York that lurks outside the doors. The best part is, if I forget my keys, lose them, or have some other sort of unfortunate incident, the doorman is there to bail me out. Oh, and my fancy new doorman building actually costs less than my crappy old walk-up with a broken buzzer where I would have to run down four flights of stairs every time I ordered delivery. So, that's not a real argument.
Hamilton Nolan: I have no doubt that having a doorman is "sort of nice." I also have no doubt that you've learned to embrace the convenience. Embracing convenience: this is your cross to bear, Brian. It would also be convenient to have a quartet of female gymnasts carry me around town on a throne all day. But I don't. Because it would be ridiculous. It's too expensive, and I have my own two legs, as well as those restraining orders. Same issues apply to having a doorman.
Plus, if you never open doors or carry packages, how will you develop your trap muscles? Think of your traps, Brian.
Brian Moylan: I think the real trap is thinking that because you don't need a doorman now, you won't ever need a doorman ever. I see the doormen in my building every day helping the older and more infirm residents to get to and from the front door, to put their groceries in the elevator, and to generally assist them to continue living. For them a doorman is not a convenience, but a necessity, the one thing that keeps them in their apartment and not in an assisted living facility. Yes, for me it's just a fun guy named Billie to eat McDonald's with and judge me when I stumble in at 5 in the morning, but for them, it's something else entirely. Sure, we don't need them now, but I'm glad I have one in case that day ever comes.
[Image via Getty]