Guarding the Gates A Spotlight on Your Doorman

As one of the doorman for the residents of 565 West End Avenue, Michael Cunniffe has been opening doors, accepting packages, hailing taxis and shoveling sidewalks for over twelve years. "I like my job; I'm a people person," says Cunniffe, who is also a retired bus driver. "I deal with the public all the time. I have no complaints."

Doorman, like Cunniffe, often work in a single building for years, getting to know the residents and shareholders like family. During my brief chat with Cunniffe, he confidently multi-tasked - signing for a package, giving directions to a passerby, and enthusiastically welcoming back newlyweds as if they were his own family returning home. A doorman is everyone's first impression of a residential building and the level of courtesy and convenience the building community offers its residents.

A Good Man on the Door

Among many other qualities, a good doorman should obviously have a pleasant demeanor, good communication skills, is attentive, a keen understanding of good service, and a sense of humor. Alertness, reliability, and attention to detail are also must-haves.

A doorman's responsibilities, however, extend far from a pleasant greeting and assistance at the front door. "Being a doorman is not an easy job and it's probably the hardest in a building," said Peter Grech, president of the Superintendents Club of New York, a non-profit technical society of building superintendents, doormen and other building personnel. "Doormen are in the public light, and it's not as simple as just opening and closing the doors. There's a lot of stress being a doorman. You're dealing with people and their homes. If a package is lost or a key is misplaced, usually it's taken out on the doorman before [the information] even gets to the super."

Security has also become a bigger responsibility of the doorman since 9/11. Preventing unwelcome visitors, monitoring security cameras and maintaining logs of delivered packages are vital to keeping a building safe. After the attacks, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ, which represents 75,000 building service employees, including doormen, porters, maintenance workers, cleaners, security guards, and superintendents began to implement strategies that train their union members in building security. Earlier this year, the union negotiated $1 million a year from building owners for safety and security training.


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  • Willie on Tuesday, January 15, 2008 2:18 PM
    I am a retired Letter Carrier, I have been employed as a part-time Doorman/ Concierge since April 2006. I found your article to be a home run and touchdown all in one deliverable.It related to everything I have experience in the year and eight months of my employment. I like my job I am about six months away from obtaining my degree in Business Administration. A " good doorman is an amenity that is almost priceless." Thank yo u Great Article
  • Catherine Waffenschmidt on Monday, January 9, 2017 11:23 PM
    Thanks for a great spotlight. My Dad was the best and I'm grateful for your article. My father died last week ( 1/6/17) About a month shy of 81 yrs old. I know that all his residents including many in the general neighborhood adored him. He joins my Mom, Agnes, who passed in 9/16/2016.