Not to the Manor Born


Recently, both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have reported on the plight of the disadvantaged masses commonly known among the top tiered as “The Help.” Apparently on the Upper Sides of Manhattan, both West and East, nannies, dogwalkers, and housekeepers have been laid off to leave room in household budgets for things like Botox. Sad but tragically true. Frugality demands scrupulous selection after all and some perks simply must go.

Now, it appears new casualties have been added — the maintenance staff at upscale doorman buildings. According to Page Six, the doormen and supers are being tipped decidedly less this year. But unlike the helpless nannies and housekeepers who docilely departed with nary a squeak, the doormen, for whom holiday tips account for about 10 per cent of their annual salaries, are organizing. Revenge of the stiffed you might say.

At one Upper West Side building, where staff have not been given their end-of-year tips yet, the building’s management has set up a Web site with headshots and short bios of each doorman, elevator operator, concierge and porter employed by the building, presumably to put human faces on the consequences of self-serving “frugality.” A letter asking the residents to visit the Web site was hand-delivered to their doors.

At other buildings, derisive doormen are employing outright cruelty by openly keeping a tally of who gives what–jotting down numbers as soon as they receive an envelope and unashamedly doing it in front of the resident who’s delivered it–perhaps as a form of negative reinforcement. (Those yet to put an envelope together should beware, seems to be the message.)

For the sorely snubbed (those getting a measly pittance of $20), all out revenge coupled with open warfare is the method of choice. While the very good tippers ($200 or above) might get services from their doormen such as moving parked cars to avoid tickets, connecting VCR’s, walking tenants’ dogs and being discreet about late-night visitors, the poor tippers are guaranteed what only New York can deliver with studied panache — cool indifference.

“Let’s say you pull up in a cab with a bunch of packages. Maybe I’ll just happen to be on the phone,” quipped an unnamed doorman at Park and 55th. [Link]


~ by eaesthete on 12/24/08.

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