Austin Butler once told Cosmopolitan, "How someone treats a waiter or doorman can tell you so much about a person." And if these stories from New York City doormen tell you anything, it's that they see and hear everything. They've witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly side of life, and they probably know their clients better than they know themselves. So if you've got a dirty little secret, keep the doorman on side!
"I’m a doorman in Manhattan. There’s this family that has multiple homes and on top of that, they’re on a lot of business trips. The wife suspected her husband of cheating, so she offered me “money that will change your life” if I said yes to ever seeing her husband bring home other women. I definitely wasn’t going to ruin anyone’s marriage."
"I’m going to be honest, doormen have seen it all, so I doubt they’re judging you based on you coming home drunk. They’re judging mostly on two things: 1) how friendly you are, and 2) how good your holiday card stacks up." — Michaelanthony87 on Reddit
"I was a doorman in NYC for a building full of wealthy people. To live in the building, you had to have a minimum of $50 million in the bank. One day, a guy I never saw before came in. I stopped him, but my manager told me to let him in. After the guy goes upstairs, the manager tells me, 'He’s the son of 25C. He comes over when his parents aren't home to sleep with [women] in their bed.'"
"[Later], another tenant from the building sees him and says, 'Your parents aren’t here, so what’re you doing here?' Then [he] takes off running. I open the door and let them out. I see them run two blocks before they disappeared." — David_Jets on Reddit
"I have discovered some potentially scandalous trysts and activities at most of the buildings I've worked at. I think once you've logged enough hours while motionless at a desk, you begin to pick up on the people who you see day in and day out's mannerisms. (Even if they ignore you, the working class shmoe.)"
"For example, I discovered this man (a married father of two) was having an affair with another woman. The next month, I found out his wife was also seeing someone on the side. Of course, one-night stands are always amusing, especially since I get to see either the beginning or final legs of the walk of shame." — Fried_Rich_Niche_Eh on Reddit
“[Saturday Night Live head honcho Lorne Michaels] gave me 25 years of Saturday Night Live after-parties. After my shift, I’d go up there, or I’d take the day off, go to the show, and then to the after-party. They would give me six tickets to take my mom and other family members.”
“So one day, the driver asks me: ‘How did you get six tickets? I’ve been driving the guy for 38 years and only got two!’ I’ll tell you why, 'cause nothing ever happens when I’m at the door, that’s why.” — Frank Smith, told to West Side Rag
"One night when I was working nights, one guy was sleepwalking, and he came down to the lobby naked — nothing on... I just told him, 'Go back upstairs 'cuz I don't want anybody to see you down here.'"
"'[Especially not] with me looking at you!' I never mentioned it to him again. [I am taking this story to the grave.]" — Anonymous doorman with 43 years of experience, told to Doorman Stories
"I wasn't working here when it happened, but supposedly, there was an older couple. The husband died. The lady didn't say anything. And she kept him in the apartment. And she actually put him in a suitcase trunk."
"She wasn't all there, so she was trying to ship his body somewhere. She had to go through certain protocols for that, but it started stinking and people, you know, it was on the news." — Anonymous doorman, told to Doorman Stories
"[One tenant] thought he was dead, you know. But he wasn't. That was just it, you know, he called us. It was weird. it was the weirdest call I've ever had... then he called back, and he was, like, 'I realize I'm alive, thank you.'" — Emmanuel, told to Doorman Stories
"Fifteen days from now I am retiring after 31 years and I'm so happy. When I started work, I had the midnight shift. There was a lady that walked by and she took off her top and showed me [her chest]. She was just walking by. Iwas like, 'Oh my God!' [She] just went, boom, showed me and kept walking." — Manny, told to Doorman Stories
"There was one night that there was a gentleman who was standing out here, and he was just out of it. And they were calling the cops, and I'm just like, 'Listen, he's okay, leave him alone, he's fine, he's fine, he's fine.' And he finally snapped out of it. He was like, 'Okay I got to go now.'"
"It's like, 'Oh, okay, whatever floats your boat, guy, as long as you're okay.' Went on his merry way and then the funny part about that is that as he left, I'm doing the garbage that night, I find 100 bucks where he was standing. I was like, I might have saved you for my overdose, and I just got $100 out of it, so I couldn't be upset." — Anonymous doorman, told to Doorman Stories
"There was one time I was working in the back by the garbage room and my super came, pulled me to the side, and he's like, 'We have an emergency.' And I'm like, 'What's going on?' And he was like, 'You cannot tell nobody, but one of the tenants dropped their wedding ring down the chute.'"
"We had to go through several garbages, but luckily, he was able to find it. The tenant came down and was like, 'Oh my God, you saved my — everything — don't tell my husband, please, like keep this between us.' I did good." — Anonymous doorman, told to Doorman Stories
"I had a tenant stuck in the elevator one time. I was just on the phone with her, trying to calm her down. She was just screaming a lot, and I didn't know how to calm her down, so I was just there talking with her. Like, 'Don't worry. I think it's going to be fine.'" I guess she was claustrophobic... It was insane. It was a crazy moment."
"A sweet happy moment. I have a nice old lady here. She always brings me coffee in the morning whenever I do mornings. Then every now and then, she's a good baker, so she brings me pies. She gave me a lot of baked goods and then I'm just really grateful for her." — Anonymous doorman, told to Doorman Stories
"I was off [one morning], and my coworker that's been here 30 years, he calls me up. He's like, 'Hey, you're supposed to be at work today." And I go, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'No no no.' He's like, 'You were supposed to work for this guy.' I said, 'Come on!' So I start getting ready and then he calls me back."
"He's like, 'No, I'm just kidding, I'm just kidding, don't [come in].' I'm like, 'Oh God, I live so far [away],' I'm like, 'God I gotta get to work.' They always do that, you know." — Anonymous doorman, told to Doorman Stories
"Working at night, we've had a guy pass by in his underwear. [But] it wasn't just regular underwear. It was like real discreet underwear. Like, there was barely any underwear. [He tries] to walk in here and me trying to stop him and we had a resident come through."
"So he goes, 'Uh oh, is this... does this person belong here?' I was like, 'No, absolutely not.' We ended up calling 911. He ended up taking everything [off]. They got him for nudity, I guess." — Anonymous doorman, told to Doorman Stories
“I can tell you one thing: It’s hard to find better people than De Niro, Sting, Lorne Michaels, and Paul Simon. These guys came together and helped me when I was at my lowest point.”
“Without them, I might be living on a bench over in Central Park now. They are very close to my heart, and I’ll be forever in their debt.” — Frank Smith, told to West Side Rag
"I was working on the east side at a real fancy building: 100 plus units. Old money. I was at the door one night, and I said ‘good evening’ to this older woman, and she gave me this look of death, looked at me like I was lucky to be alive. I remember her exact words. They were, ‘Who gave you permission to speak to me?’"
"I was stunned, froze, and she looked at me like I was a piece of dirt. And I said to her, ‘I take that good evening back and I hope you have a horrible day.’ I then told the super don’t call me anymore." — anonymous doorman, told to Brick Underground
"There was another building I worked at, a big one on the west side, where... there was this line on the floor and you had to be on it, you couldn’t move and they were really snobby if you did... I was working one night. And this lady was coming in with groceries and I went to help, so I stepped from the line. And then I see, while I’m helping her, an older woman at the door."
"She then tells me, ‘Your job is to wait for me, I don’t wait for me. Your job is to wait on that line and stand on that line.’ Next day, I see her and she says, ‘Take my groceries,’ and I said no, my job is to stand on this line. I then went to the super and said I’m done here." — anonymous doorman, told to Brick Underground
"I've had a crazy week, helped a guy left for dead in a hit-and-run by a cyclist, restaurant workers I know get tied up and robbed, garage has three vehicles stolen."
"All within a one-block proximity of my building. Always walk on a [street with a doorman] so we can keep an eye on you New York." — @EastSideDoorman on X
"Almost every night, I gotta deal with some sort of crazy homeless person in front of the building. Had a guy pull down his pants and take a dump in front of people like nothing, had another guy cut himself while yelling at me." — @EastSideDoorman on X
"All the young couples are choosing to get dogs over having children. We have more than 30 dogs in my building, insane how many times the lobby rugs get peed on in a day." — @EastSideDoorman on X
"A tenant comes to the lobby visibly shaken up, crying, and says she was just held hostage. So I tell her to calm down and give me all the details."
"I was held hostage in the laundry room for over 30 minutes. [She said that] a giant roach was hovering back and forth blocking the doorway." — @EastSideDoorman on X
"You end up knowing EVERYTHING about the tenants — don’t ever let them, or anyone else, know that. Figure out how to have pleasant conversations that don’t last longer than ten seconds. Never get involved in the street unless it walks through the doors —then be extremely proactive."
"In other words — be someone they know they can trust and you’ll have a bunch of people that care about you and take care of you accordingly at the end of the year. All that said… the mere sight of Amazon packages will trigger PTSD for the rest of your natural life." — capbozo on Reddit
"The worst way [to get past a nightclub doorman]? Pretending your friend has bought a bottle (we have a list and walkies), saying you have to use the restroom (not my problem), pretending you know us (...), and rubbing your friend's stamp onto your hand (c'mon!)."
"The funniest way I've been approached was when these girls were not being let in for dress code (flip flops), so one girl went inside, was barefoot, handed her shoes off to her friends, and tried to get her in. Both girls got booted."— stamuscontramalum on Reddit
"An unnamed high-end retail group had a party, [and] they were all demolished. Stumbling, slurring, and cut off at the bar. We were telling them they had to leave, and one guy [wouldn't] have it. He started taking candles in glass holders that we have on the tables and throwing them at the bouncers."
"It doesn't sound like much, but hot wax and broken glass isn't cool. Staff came out with a few cuts, I was fine, and cops came. One guy I work with had someone smash a bottle on his head." — stamuscontramalum on Reddit
"We had an off-duty Marine that was standing next to me and one of the off-duty D.J.s next to the door and he was pretty drunk and put his arms around me and the D.J. and we started laughing. He then proceeded to attempt to hump me. I then put him in a headlock, knocked his head against the doorpost, and tossed him outside."
"He picked up a bottle off the ground and threw it at the window and a piece of the glass hit him in the eye and we had to call an ambulance. He was arrested for destruction of property after he got out of the ER. This was the best simply because watching the security camera footage afterward was hilarious." — mrsir on Reddit
"For me, you know what's worse? Logging in 150/200 packages a day working the door. Alone. It demands all your attention, to label the boxes with the correct apartment number and then scan them so tenants know their packages were delivered. All the while you have to keep an eye on the door for tenants who never check whether or not they have packages and let them pile up obliviously."
"Then the holidays roll around, and the number of packages per day nearly triples and nothing changes no matter how many times you ask management for help only to be met with contempt. Holiday tips were pretty great, but it's literally getting dumped on for 50 weeks for 2 weeks of great tips." — Catas6 on Reddit
"There was a fight upstairs at this club I was working at, this guy was actually fighting with the D.J. Like, rolling around on the ground fighting... one bouncer got up there before me and the guy was in his face. When I get up behind the guy, the other bouncer pushes him into me (which we're trained to do) and I wrap him up."
"Well, the guy keeps holding on to the railing and won't let go. So the other bouncer picks up his legs (I've still got him wrapped up) and we carry him down the stairs and out of the bar like that." — bigbadbouncer on Reddit
"I think a staple of the experience of when a bouncer catches you with a fake I.D. is the first thing we’re going to do is mock you. If it’s a good fake I.D. we’ll say, 'You almost got there,'"
"And if it’s a bad one, we’re going [to say], 'Dude, I know you made this in your dorm room but you have access to Staples and Kinkos. Put a little more effort into it next time.'” — Mishka Shubaly, told to MTV
"I've been beat up pretty badly. I was standing in a small alleyway and was jumped by five or six guys who just don't like bouncers. They were experienced in doing this, and I know this because they knocked my radio off so that I couldn't call for help."
"Luckily, I'm no stranger to fighting and walked away from it with two black eyes and bumps all over my head. That's actually a very solid outcome. The bouncers all bought me a beer after that." — Misc1 on Reddit
"The wildest night of the year is always St. Patrick's Day. Hordes of people come out, and they all reach what we call 'Zombie Mode,' which is where due to the amount of alcohol they've consumed, they've become completely autonomous."
"This means that morals and judgment are all out the window, which leads to breaking windows, throwing stuff OUT those broken windows at bouncers, throwing rocks at cars (and bouncers), puking, and passing out in the middle of the bar." — Misc1 on Reddit
"There's a massive park in the back of the bar, where a gang of homeless people live. (In my city, there are gangs of homeless Native Americans.) On occasion, they'll save up enough change to legitimately buy a pint, and they want to get in the door together."
"Now, what kind of doorman would I be if I let a group of smelly homeless people inside? They didn't take kindly to the word "NO", and so myself and six other doormen had to fight a bunch of homeless, and keep them on the sidewalk." — Misc1 on Reddit