A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 133: This Job Has Its Ups and Downs

November 9th · No Comments

It took four months in New York to finally encounter this man, my first elevator attendant. Pardon the blurry, Sasquatch-like photo. I visited a friend on the Upper West Side and pushed the button for the elevator, and when the door slid open this man was standing there. I waited for him to leave but he beckoned me in.

The elevator attendant is iconic of the opulent, vertical city of New York, but as I watched the guy push some buttons, I had to wonder what he thought of his job. The concept of a doorman I can sort of get my head around — he opens the door if your hands are full, provides a level of security and can sign for your packages — but the elevator attendant has a task that was replaced by electronics about a century ago. I felt sorry for him, living a third of his life inside this little box.

He did have a cool lever, though. I don’t know anything about old-school elevators, but when I asked, the attendant mentioned that if he’s not careful the elevator will sometimes open between floors. Without the attendant’s experienced hand, a hapless tenant might have no choice but crawl or jumpĀ  to safety, leaving his groceries and tiny, yapping dog to the vicissitudes of fate.

Tags: Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

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