Walking down 72nd street between 1st and York, I feel enveloped in opaque and grey, surrounded by scaffolding and buildings. The wind is blowing harder on the cross street than it had been on York, as the buildings create a path for the wind to reach me from the river. Once I begin to see the long entrance into my building, I am filled with a sense of vibrancy. Both to my right and my left I am surrounded by plants and colorful flowers. Green, red, pink, yellow. An adorable dog walks out of the building, his owner greets me, and I walk in with a smile on my face. However, this smile disappears when I see the face of my miserable doorman. He’s cold, mean, and hateful before he has a reason to be. He is the ultimate contrast from the environment I am met with before I enter the building. He is a big man that towers over me on the rare occasion that he gets up off his chair. Bright red hair and a slightly less red face, always emotionless. I have tried to empathize with this man to understand how he could be so innately angry, but he is opaque. Through many attempts, I am unable to see inside this man.
I walk in, greet him with a friendly “hi,” and am met with silence and no acknowledgement, as if I were a ghost who is invisible. Sometimes, I walk in the building, say “Hi how are you?” and ask if a package has arrived for my family. Instead of engaging in a simple back and forth dialogue, he begrudgingly gets up out of his chair, checks the package room, and either responds with a head nod or a head shake, as if he is unable to engage in human conversation.
I don’t have any anger or malice for this man, but I feel for him. When I was a little girl, I have a vivid memory of him as a happier man. I remember specifically when I was around the age of eight years old, every time I walked in we had a secret handshake. I would walk up to his big desk, my head barely peeking over, and point my finger up at him. He would reach down and touch my fingertip with his, like ET. Nowadays, I am hit with “Your doorman is such an asshole!” by almost every one of my friends who walks into my house immediately after greeting me. I have thought about how someone’s entire demeanor and physical person can completely shift in the way his has. The only rational conclusion I have come to is that he has gone through a deep and troubling hardship that has changed him forever.