Gossip amongst the staff in a residential building is like gossip at any other place of business. It makes our job more interesting, and nothing is off limits.
Doormen, supers, porters and handymen can be the equivalent of a blue-collar sewing circle, bantering about things we overhear, or things residents tell us when they become comfortable to speak freely and openly to us. (You'd be surprised what some people really think about the other people on their floor.)
But we mostly talk about what we observe with our own eyes.
We see who stumbles in at all hours of the night, and may come to our own conclusions that this person may have a serious drinking problem. We see couples who constantly argue, only giving us a hint of what really goes on in their apartment. We hear of noise complaints about other couples and know their relationship is healthy, alive and kicking.
We see who walks in and out of the building. We know what kind of deliveries are made to an apartment, like groceries or "stimulants."
If certain women constantly have different men visiting, after awhile some kind of gossip can easily be spread that this resident may in fact be running a side business.
Or just having fun on the side.
For example, a handyman who was taking care of the garbage one night heard a strange rumbling and vibrating noise coming from one of the bags. Curious, he opened the bag and found an adult toy belonging to one of the residents in the building. Further curiosity had the handyman pry a little more and he finally found out which resident it belonged to. Needless to say, the staff has forever seen this person differently.
Some residents we sympathize with, like those who are seriously ill or experiencing a rough patch in their lives.
But we definitely gripe about specific residents who seem to be sour about something more often than not. Shared notes or word of mouth ensures that the staff is fully aware and prepared to deal with these individuals ahead of time. Some residents are even known by nicknames, hence the Mr. Evils of the world.
Also, this time of the year, after the holidays, some guys will talk about the monetary gifts they received from residents. Usually, we will not go into detail about the amount given for fear that a coworker may get offended if they received less.
But if gossip reveals that it happened to be a collective holiday budget-slashing by an unfavorable resident, then certain tactics are put into motion for the New Year. These run from "forgotten" packages, mail, and dry cleaning, to simply not helping at all.
On the positive side, we also talk about the "good ones," meaning the big tippers. Their generosity is always well received and reciprocated in extra treatment of favors throughout the year.
You may be wondering whether a doorman or any staff person can be trusted to keep a secret.
We are privy to personal information about certain residents and usually will stay tight lipped about it if requested. For the most part our attitude is "It's not my business." But there is a line that can get crossed, such as when certain individuals pull a "Tiger Woods" and veer from their home life. They may even attempt to pay off a doorman to stay quiet.
By such an action, haven't they blatantly thrown all of their business out into the open? If a resident is seen with someone else other than their spouse, one can only assume they may be cheating, but there isn't any solid evidence. But once the money is involved, it becomes a totally different scenario.
Here's a TIP from a doorman: In order to avoid unwanted gossip, a resident should be careful drawing too much attention to oneself by acting a certain way or saying certain things. My advice is that if you really want to keep you life behind closed doors, make sure the door is locked.
P.S. It’s safe to say that with the things I know, I would never live in a doorman building.