There is a class of men who make their living by standing near doors.
I’m talking about doormen, obviously. And within said class of men there are various sub-classes: strata of doorman society. At the top of the pyramid is the hotel doorman who receives tips, has his own union and gets to hang out with celebrities. At the middle there is the ‘concierge’ whose charge is to lurk near the door of a corporate or residential building, occasionally grunting at people who pass by. At the bottom of the pile is the lowly ‘bouncer’. Bouncers are born in vats and have painted-on suits.
Standing near doors may look like an easy job to you, dear and sophisticated reader, but you try standing near a constantly opening and closing door. You could catch your death. The doorman, however, laughs in the face of death because he knows that when he finally succumbs to the inevitable fate of pneumonia, he will be be rewarded in the doorman afterlife with a reception area of seventy virgins.
The first person the doorman meets in heaven is Saint Peter, the longest-serving doorman of them all.
The deceased doorman will have to wait a few minutes while Saint Peter finishes talking to the FedEx guy and then then the doorman will have to pass the test he has been waiting all of his life to pass.
Saint Peter: Greetings doorman. When is a door not a door?
Doorman: I have prepared to answer that conundrum all of my life, Saint Peter. It is a riddle with which I am entirely familiar and I am looking forward to answering it. A door, my lord, fails significantly to be a door, my lord, when it, if I may venture, is ajar.
And then he goes through the pearly revolving door where he meets his maker: Janus, the god of gates and doors.
We have a new doorman in my office building. He’s a lovely guy, is very well dressed and is seemingly played by Captain Birdseye. Either he’s fresh out of doorman academy and still idealistic about the profession or he really loves doormanship and has taken it up as a sort of hobby.
Every morning the new doorman holds the door for me, says good morning and calls me Sir. At first I naturally assumed he was kowtowing exclusively to me, as is my god-given right, but it turns out he does this for everyone.
Alas such matinal felatio grows tiresome. I find myself missing our old, grumpy doorman (may he rest in peace) who never held the door for anyone, never said good morning and spent most of his time unapologetically watching football mishaps on YouTube.
The problem is that I cross paths with the doorman on a bare minimum of four times a day. Once when arriving in the morning; twice when leaving for and returning from lunch; and once again at the end of the day. That’s an awful lot of pleasantry.
I’m trying to identify alternative ways into and out of the building. The laundry shoot is a promising option.
It’s trying for me and I’m sure it’s trying for him. How can he be so nice to so many people? It can’t go on forever. He’s sure to lose his marbles sooner or later and bash everyone’s brains in with a doorstop before eventually hanging himself with a draft excluder.
This morning the nice doorman wasn’t in his booth. He was probably off tending to an injured puppy or finding families for some orphans or something. It felt very fortunate that he was absent. To start the day without having to say hello and be friendly was an almost obscene luxury. I was able to slouch up to my desk without so much as having to clear my throat.
It suddenly occurs to me that the doorman is often the first person I speak to on the average day. If an ‘in order of appearance’ credits went go up before my eyes the end of each day, the friendly doorman would usually be the first person on it:
YOU HAVE BEEN WATCHING:
(in order of appearance)
Friendly doorman…………Captain Birdseye
Man in Toilet 1………….Fulton McKay
Man in Toilet 2………….Ben Kingsley
(I used to secretly suspect that my life was a Truman Show-style television programme orchestrated by Nazi occultists and some of my ex-girlfriends. But I’ve finally concluded it would be too big an operation even for them.)
The first thing I do after making my way through the doorman’s slalom of salutations and shoe-kissing is have a wee and/or a poo in the office bathroom. Why shouldn’t I? I’m only human. Stop staring at me.
Who should I see in the bathroom this morning but the friendly doorman. It gave me the shock of my life. How dare he present himself out of context so early in the morning?
“Get back to your booth, doorman!” I commanded. He quickly put away his urinating todger and, spinning on his heels, turned in on himself in the fashion of a revolving door and vanished into thin air.
Adjusting our anthropological lens, let us now move onto the lower class doorman: the bouncer.
After enjoying some cheap pitchers of pissy local brew last night, my friends and I decided to cheekily vacate the pub via the fire escape. I think I had objected to the “Fire Door Only” posters which had been plastered all over it. Laughing in the streaky face of dot-matrix authority, I hit the escape bar and we ran giggling into the night.
“See, you!” said one of the bouncers, his words a heavy pile of cured Scottish ham, “That’s a fire door only”.
I deliberately pretended to mishear him and said “Sorry, I’m not a puff” before scarpering and leaving him with his outrage and a flapping fire escape door.
My silly friends enjoyed this because (a) it was clearly unacceptable behaviour and (b) I actually am a puff.
“Well, you certainly stuck it to a man there,” said one of my pals.
And I had. I had stuck it to a door man.