Secret Life of a Manhattan Doorman
A college student is stoked to land a summer gig as a union-wage doorman—until he learns the job description includes everything from hauling out hoarders to discovering dead bodies.
The smells are the thing I don’t forget. Harsh cleaners, dead bodies, the results of four a.m. bodega runs, cluttered apartments filled with rotting paper. I can recall each smell distinctively; they are unique to that time and place. It also works in reverse: if I stumble upon one of the smells, it takes me back to being a naïve seventeen-year-old, working in the hot New York City summer—the buzz of air conditioners working in the night, straining power grids. The city was asleep and I was awake. I was a doorman.
Through the best Catholic invention of all time—nepotism—my uncle gave me a summertime job. While most of the youth of America struggled to find any money-making position, I was going to make $660 for my forty hours a week, after taxes. Union rules—god bless union rules—added time-and-a-half for overtime and double time-and-a-half for holidays. I covered vacations—most of the doormen and porters in the building had at least three weeks paid—so I woul…
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