A Doorman Speaks: Holidays? What holidays?

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One of the unfortunate things about working as a doorman is that it’s a seven-day-a-week job. The doors to a building are opened and closed every day, and someone has to staff those doors every one of those days.

Holidays are particularly problematic for those who are stuck working the door on those occasions, especially if it happens to be a major holiday and the doorman has family.

I know this having missed every major holiday event with my family: barbecues on July 4th, the last summer hurrah on Labor Day, opening gifts on Christmas, the count-down on New Year’s Eve, eating turkey with loved ones on Thanksgiving.

Sadly, Thanksgiving continues to be just a regular Thursday for me.

Now, according to our union handbook, page 73, under Article XVII section 6, regarding schedules: “Overtime, Sunday and holiday work shall be evenly distributed so far as is compatible with the efficient operation of the building. ...”

Following the rules would ensure that everyone has their share of working holidays and taking those days off. But does this really happen?

I’m sure that some buildings in New York use a rotation system. I’m pretty sure, from talking with other doormen, that the number that use it are few.

For most of us, the reality is either work your shift (and be glad in this economy that you have a job) or broker a deal with a co-worker, which often results in a costly solution for the person wanting to take the holiday off.

As I see it, the options are two: Either love holiday work, or hate it.

Reasons to appreciate working holidays:

1. Doormen are supposed to engage residents in some dialogue, or just chit chat, throughout the day. Working holidays such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, when many residents leave for the long weekend, offers the tantalizing opportunity for quiet. A doorman can read a book, listen to music on his iPod or write a new post for a website. Ahem.

2. You’ll eventually get a bone thrown your way during Thanksgiving. I said I never get to eat the bird with my family. But many of the residents in my building have been kind enough to share.

3. Working on Christmas day might not be so bad. After all, this is envelope time. Having to be on duty during this holiday may get sympathy from some and a little more money in the envelope from others.

4. Can everyone say, with feeling, “time-and-a-half”?

Reasons to dread working holidays

1. Everyone else is having fun frolicking on a beach, barbecuing, laughing, opening gifts. You get the picture.

2. You realize yet again that you’re trapped. Let’s say a doorman works a Monday through Friday shift, which sounds great if you have a family and want to join them on weekends. Now, consider how many holidays fall on a Monday.

3. You have to suffer with a smile the sympathy of others who, on their way out the door or going up to a resident's apartment for a celebration, murmur something about it being "such a shame" you have to work on the holiday. 

4.The flip side of being left alone is that it can get lonely at the door on a regular day or night. The feeling of isolation can be worse on a holiday as you realize how much you miss your family and friends, and how you would like to be with them, not here.


Follow Openthedoor-man on Twitter: @openthatdoorman

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