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Growing up, I got along with friends of different backgrounds. It was like a United Nations of snotty nosed children playing Whiffle ball and man-hunt. In a perfect world, that’s how all of life would be. But we all know this world is far from Eden and our lives are far from being perfect.
Working as a doorman, I’ve been subjected to, well, remarks, either directed at me or tossed into the passing wind. Bound to happen? Some of you reading this might say, “Yes,” especially since being a doorman means I cater to someone else’s needs. That leaves me vulnerable to individuals who mistake employing security at the door for having a servant.
First things first, we doormen are not servants. We’re human beings, as cliche as that might sound. We perform a job that consists of helping others. And we do this while being kind and polite. Unfortunately, there are individuals who interpret kind and polite as being weak and willing to take abuse (verbal and otherwise) without retaliating; individuals who do not understand the concept of treating others fairly, with dignity and respect.
Now, these people are not the majority; most of the folks I deal with every day make me glad I do what I do. But the bigots, though few in number, can make my work a constant challenge.
There are two kinds of bigots. The first are the ones who without saying a thing, remind you of who you are to them. They stand by a door waiting for the doorman to open it for them. Never mind that the doorman is busy with someone else. They’ll wait. Or they may shoot you the arrogant flick of the wrist from the sidewalk, instructing you to come hither and help with luggage from a taxi, no “please." These same people set their grocery bags on the ground and make their way into the building. Again, they don’t say a word. They just let the doorman know who’s supposed to “step ‘n fetch.”
The second group consists of people who shouldn’t open their mouths, but do. One example is the older woman who, seeing a delivery guy, said, “These Mexican boys are all gang members.”
Addressing an Irish handyman new to the building, she said that the only Spanish he needed to know was “Don’t shoot me.” And, inquiring about colors that were chosen for the new floors, she brazenly asked, “Are they Jew colors?”
Yet another woman once recalled memories of being young in the city and living near what is known as “the barrio.” She remembered a family: a big burly husband, his wife and two daughters. “And I know they were Puerto Rican because the daughters were always pregnant,” she said.
A different resident, upon exiting the building, noticed a car parked out in front. It had two flags on the hood, one on each side – an American flag and a Puerto Rican one. Focusing on the latter, she asked when the Puerto Rican Day parade was. Acting as if unsure, I replied, “In June?” “Whew,” she said. “I was getting nervous.”
Yet another resident, leaving the building in her car, had difficulties driving by a car that was double parked, while a gentleman hooked up jumper cables from his auto to one that needed a spark. A little argument ensued, with the gentleman trying to guide her to drive past him and through.
I was pulled in because this resident wanted me to talk to the man, convince him to move. Obviously, he couldn’t. So, I ended up guiding her, doing pretty much the same thing the gentleman had attempted. As she passed him, she rolled down her window, looked him in the eye, yelled “F--- you n----r!” and sped off.
These last incidents still make me hang my head in shame for saying nothing and letting these people treat others like dirt. Nowadays, I’d like us all to think about what Rodney King once said: Seriously folks, “Can we all get along?”