Dear Ms. Demeanor,
I'm going to be away for a week and want some of the building staff to water my plants and collect my mail. Is that fair to ask? Should I pay them or give a gift? If paying is more appropriate, how much should I give them?
I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask the building staff to water your plants. It is one of the many joys of living in NYC! Cash is king. I think $20- $40 (the range depends on the number of plants you have and/or how high maintenance they are) is perfect and perfectly lovely.
Ain't no sunshine when you're gone,