Thus far into my tour of doorr duty, I have only worked the night shift. I leave a bit before 11:30 and make my way down from the Upper West Side, through the park to midtown east. Depending on my street choice, I can go past Rockefeller Center, Times Square, MoMA, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, and probably a dozen other spots I have not had the chance to look at on account of needing to keep a wary eye on those half-ton yellow murder machines the townies affectionately call “taxis”.
I arrive 5 minutes early in order to allow myself time to fumble with my tie, and inevitably end up tying it half an inch short (and yes, I am aware of the easy “tie as phallic symbol” joke to be made here).
12-12:45 A.M: I am alert, eyes focused on the street, hands ready at the hips, doorknob finger twitching with anticipation. This first 45 minutes are tense because this is when the last of the “volcano” tenants come in, so named because they will explode-either by direct verbal abuse or by complaining to management-unless their lobby experience carries with it the same proscribed routine of actions, small talk, and general lobby appearance. Something out of place-saying “how are you?” instead of “How’s everything?”, mopping instead of standing by the door, commenting on sports instead of the weather-and you are running a risk like a whore in Pompeii. More on them later.
12:45-2: This is read/fidget or practice dance moves/facial expressions in the mirror time.
2-4: This is cleaning time. I first polish the brass (trolley cart, elevator panels), the stainless steel (door frames, my belt buckle). I mop the floors, shake out the doormats, sweep outside, take out the trash, vacuum, and clean every glass surface in the place. This is usually when the newspaper delivery people appear.
5: The fist tenants exit, usually “Kathie Lee”, whose nickname I will explain in a later entry. At this time, 5 the lunch I have packed and the coffee take their effects. For the bathroom, Ramón, the guy I usually relieve recommends using the sink we use to fill the mop bucket. The only toilet is in the basement, so when your bowels compel you, one must lock the door, and make a mad dash for the bathroom. This has only happened to me once, and almost ended in tragedy when I failed to anticipate needing to find the bathroom key amongst a dozen others as I danced that panicked universal dance.
6-8: Steady stream of tenants. The last 45 minutes are the most tense. The Super, who on account of an earlier run-in is not a big fan of me, is liable to appear any minute. On my first day, he had wanted my social security number, and when I questioned his need for it, he assumed I was accusing him of trying to steal my identity. I protested, but due to an under-developed sense of righteous indignation, and an over-developed sensitivity to shouting, I quickly lost this “discussion.”
The day guy usually shows up around 7:45, and if I’m lucky, I can effect my escape before the Super appears, sipping his coffee menacingly (as I have never seen some do as effectively), and carefully examining my windows, floors, and brass for any damning smudge.
I sleep the nine to five.