building.jpgIn so many places there are the haves and the have nots. There are a multitude of ways that this plays out in New York, but this week, none so clear cut as those who have doormen, and those who don’t.

All’s right with the world for people who don’t rely on those professional personal assistants who accept packages, keep your laundry neatly hung, and perhaps even walk your dog or water your plants when you’re away. Those neatly suited individuals who send you off in the morning with a smile and an enouraging comment, and who welcome you home with the art of the brief and highly personalized conversation-lette.

But for those of us fortunate to benefit from the daily company of doormen and concierges, today is literally D-day. If the union contract isn’t signed by midnight tonight, doormen across the city will be on the picketline. The last time this happened was in 1971 and the tales are legendary.

Judging by some of the reactions of residents in our building, the results could be equally cataclysmic if the agreement isn’t signed. Advance notice has been circulated about keeping recycling inside our apartments; bagging our trash and carrying it out to the curb; trash chutes being sealed off until the strike ends; and other unsanitary thoughts. And the reaction from some of my fellow residents? No way I’m doing any of that.

Do I believe a building of a few hundred people could maintain its lifestyle if it depended on their good neighbourliness and adhering equally to their obligations as their rights? Not for a moment. So perhaps it is only through our domestic employees that we can maintain our civility, our veneer of humanity. And it’s only at moments like this that we are forced to face ourselves, and our nextdoor neighbours.

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