Door to Door

Meet the doorman: A former security guard turns Upper West Side gatekeeper

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Doormen—and increasingly, doorwomen—are arguably the most iconic personalities in New York City real estate, often playing a role that's midway between building security and therapist. They see us at our best and worst (and most shopping-addicted and takeout-dependent), as we venture out on our first dates and first days of school and work (and, too, the last), and are the first people we see when we get home and begin to finally shed the armor we don everyday to do battle out there in this big, brash city. 

In our ongoing series, columnist Gabriel Falcon, who's been chronicling his meetups with doormen on Facebook, introduces us to the men and women who are the gatekeepers of many of the city's rental buildings and co-ops. 

Meet today's doorman: Ray

Age: 53

The building: The Turin at 333 Central Park West

Shift: 8 am to 4 pm

Years: 22

From: New York City

The residence:
The Turin is a great dame of Central Park West. Designed in the Italian Renaissance style by the famed architect, Albert Joseph Bodker, it was built in 1909 and has 12 floors and 72 apartments.

Getting the job:
"The manager liked how I did things (as a security guard) and offered me the position. Being a security guy makes me aware of my surroundings. I see how people approach and you can read them as you see them."

On taking pride in his work:
"Sometimes people can be very rude. And I'm a proud man and sometimes you have to bite your lip. It all depends on the day."

On staying grounded:
"You would think that rich people are different, but they are all very nice. I have to say the people you meet, you would think they have airs about them but they are really normal. I get to meet famous people. I met David Stern, the former baseball commissioner. Really nice guy. Very short."

What it was like back in the day:
"When I first started in 1993, there were problems. There was the crack epidemic and security was a major issue. We had a doorman who was attacked in the lobby."

Why it's important to be kid-friendly:
"I terrorize the kids. I always tell them to say good morning, and say good afternoon and have manners, and I told the boys they should be gentlemen and be nice. And if you have nothing to say don't say anything."

The fight club:
"I had an incident with a subpoena server and he didn't have credentials. And he tries to take a swing at me, and I took a swing at him, and then he calls the cops and says I broke his jaw. But the video shows I didn't do anything."

Advice to those just getting into the industry:
"If you are going to do it, do it wholeheartedly. Greet people well, treat people well. It's not easy. It's not brain surgery, but the hardest part is how people approach you. You have to be calm. I was a thug when I was a kid so I get that defensive mechanism in me."

Retirement on the far horizon:
"I'm staying [10] more years and then [I'll] go travel with my wife. If she doesn't want to go, I will see the world by myself."

 

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