Listen. We don’t hate our jobs. Doormen may not make the money of an investment banker, but our jobs spill over into our regular work week with less frequency, our work environments are not rigid and high-pressured, and while we are still subject to conspicuous consumption, the risks are less, the progressive steps required to keep up with the Joneses (those jerks!) are smaller. See, money is not the main factor in job satisfaction unless you are one who will be equally unhappy or happy in any job.
Not only do we not hate our jobs, but we are rather proud of it. Doormen self-perceive themselves as the most white collar of the blue collar jobs (hence, the uh, white collar), employees who are proud of the job they do and take it seriously.
And no one is prouder than doorman George Washington Carver, so named not because of his profound love for all things peanut, but because of—if he is to believed—his prolific career as a doorman inventor.
At first glance, it seems hard to believe that there are that many things to revolutionize about the job. Cavemen probably had caveman doors before they had fire to keep out animals and former girlfriends. Ties have been worn since men combined widespread textile manufacturing and insecurities about their penis size
He does not work at my building anymore, but as he will tell you, he “worked there for 25 years, gave half [his] life for this building”. He comes in about 6 every morning with a cup of coffee and hangs around until about 7, when he gets nervous that the super might show up.
It might be nice to talk to someone that early in the morning, except its not really a conversation as much as a monologue. There are three subjects that our tall, bald inventor discusses: strip clubs (his favorite girls are Cinnamon and Zanna), how bad the building owners are, and his inventions. The last is my favorite subject.
He has invented: the system for keeping track of packages (write down apartment number in a column marked “packages”), the system for organizing spare keys (key hooks labeled with the corresponding apartment numbers). He invented our shift (11-5 instead of 12-6). In the seventies, he invented smoking weed with tenants in the backroom, in the eighties, dipping coke. He was in the process of inventing a system so that tenants could communicate remotely with their doorman when cell phones hit it big.
He is a genius. A renaissance man. A doorman dedicated to his profession and to humanity, the wheels in his great, bald dome tirelessly turning, driving towards a better future, fueled by his love for man and doorkind.
He is also irritating. All I want to do at 6 a.m. is go to sleep, not talk to people, not humor their megalomania, not listen to their inventions. No. Take off tie. Put a bicycle between my legs. Point it towards home. Cross a bridge. Climb some stairs, lie down. Close eyes.
But there he is every morning, as regular as any of my tenants, George Washington Carver, doorman, inventor extraordinaire, walking with the gait that he invented, opening the door in a style of his own invention.