A Doorman Speaks: Sticky fingered temptations

By Openthedoor-man  | July 11, 2011 - 1:06PM

In a recent post, I talked about doormen helping themselves to mis-delivered packages. Well, the sticky finger misdeeds of some doormen and building guys don’t end there. They extend to the very buildings for which doormen work.

I’m talking about products—cleaning products, in particular; enough cleaning products to make an OCD neat freak jump in elation.

These include, in no particular order, industrial-size, pleasantly scented solutions, ammonias, tile cleaners, stainless-steel polishes, disinfectants, soaps, insect repellents, air fresheners, toilet paper, paper towels and the hefty contractor-type garbage bags with a touch of mint on them to ward off mice.

That’s just a few of the items that building staff have at their disposal on a daily basis.

I’ll admit, there’s a business side of me that has pondered getting my hands on some of these products and selling them. I’ve even imagined tenants walking into the lobby and hearing a whispered, “Psst. I got Fantastic, Lysol, Mr. Clean. Whatya need?”

But lowering myself to hawking stolen cleaning products sounds worse than desperate; it’s petty.

An alternative would be taking these items for my own use. Believe me, many building staff have done and still do just that. Forget BJ’s and Costco, buildings also order in bulk, sometimes in the form of overkill: Gallons of liquidy good stuff help maintain the floors and lobby super-spiffy shiny and clean.

I know. I’ve tried some.

What about a slow winter? Twenty bags of salt were ordered and only one snowfall so far. The calcium chloride buildings use is great stuff: A few sprinkles here and there and presto, snow is gone.

I admit having taken my share of this, too, during the winter to help fight frost. I’ve heard of workers grabbing rolls of toilet paper as if it were some hot commodity or cost thousands of dollars to buy one’s own.

Then there are the garbage bags. These aren’t your typical kitchen variety, but some heavy duty, tall and strong bags; plus the mint for the mice. It kind of makes taking out the trash fun. Throw in the same mint-odor, clear bags, and I have done my part in recycling according to sanitation rules while helping to keep the Earth green.

Yes, guilty as charged.

Building guys will also help themselves to other things, like paints and paint accessories, that I consider not okay. I’ve heard, for example, that it cut costs when doing a side job if a building has a particular color that’s needed. It’s more money in the pocket for the one doing the job.

The list of MIAPs (missing-in-action products) also includes various tools, fire alarms, flashlights, boxes of light bulbs (the twisty looking energy saving ones), window guards and insulation.

Now, while you're tsk-tsking, just think of this for a minute from the building staff-member’s perspective: All of this and more; no one will notice, and they’re free.

All it takes is an opportunity, misguided inventory taking and, as one doorman explained several years ago, a well thought-out plan.

This guy would sneak items from one room to the next, out of sight from the various cameras in the basement like a stealthy ninja, hiding in the shadows with his back against the walls, moving to the garbage room where he would throw stuff in a black bag and take it out as trash.

Is this really worth losing your job if you’re caught? No, but it’s just so tempting, especially when buildings order the high-powered stuff.

Living in an apartment once, my bathroom sink was clogged. Instead of waiting for the landlord to show up the next day, I decided to bring home a product known as “Globber,” a product that once ate through a handyman’s clothing, it was that strong.

I puffed out my chest and told my wife, “Back up, I got this.”

Suffice it to say, I unclogged the drain. I also ended up ruining the sink because the Globber ate through the porcelain.

Some things are better left in the building.

Follow Openthedoor-man on Twitter: @openthatdoorman

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