When it comes to being a doorman, know thy weather. More important, know how to complain about the weather, how to rail against the rain, hate the humidity, and curse the cloud cover, because the one thing that people like to talk about when they feel obligated to have a conversation is how crappy the weather is.
To quote the song, hot times, summer in the (New York) city. Hot times indeed. For the residents, it is forever too hot, too muggy, too sunny, too hazy, too rainy, too windy. This being an Atlantic coastal state, one would think that the wedding of heat and summer would not come as a surprise, but the tenants treat the heat as some rude new neighbor that has unexpectedly moved in and is throwing parties on Wednesdays and stealing their paper.
I am Oscar the Grouch to these tenants at Sesame Street and 72nd, a puppet foil meant only to pop out of my trashcan in my little doorman uniform and commiserate and elaborate on their weather-induced misery. Given that I have this conversation 50 or so times a day, I try to vary my responses: “you don’t have to tell me” (really, you don’t); “preaching to the choir” (the bored choir); “it wouldn’t be so bad if there was a breeze”.
We, the protective, knowledgeable-yet-discreet doorman are also expected to give warning about the weather: whether or not it is supposed to rain; what clothing is appropriate. Oh yes! We keepers of the doors, we straddlers of the home threshold, we lubricators of the passage between dirty street and designer sofa must ease our infantile tenants with loving care into the world. We are the buffer between the safe, private home and all the dangers of the outside world: bad weather, thieves, and unwanted guests.
A diligent doorman will check the weather before he leaves so as to give detailed talking points (to aid the tenant’s weather complaints elsewhere), as well as to speak from a position of authority on whether or not it is supposed to rain. Less diligent doormen like myself simply make the advice up based on how it looks outside.
When bored, a great game is to see how blue the sky can be and still encourage tenants to take an umbrella (I am not nasty enough to try to convince them to go unprotected when it is sure to rain).
Either way, if the weather does not do what it is supposed to do, it gives us a whole new dimension to our constant carping: how crappy weathermen are.
On a more serious note, this is the hottest summer on record, an event that, because of climate destabilization, will become more and more common in the northeast. Before we even get to drown our coastal cities completely with rising sea water levels, the heat will increasingly over burden city infrastructure (Heidi Cullen on “the Hottest Summer Ever”). With no real national climate legislation, here is Bill Mckibben on “why this is f-cked up—it’s time to get mad, and then busy.”
Of course, if you are a tenant, don’t bother with those articles, just go to weather.com so you can get a head start on tomorrow’s grumbling.