The Phil Wells Dot Com

I Got A Big Mouth

Tag: moonlighting

Exit Doorman

I’ve got about a month left until I’m no longer a moonlighting weekend doorman for a sleepy commercial building in Chelsea.  I love the lessons you can pick up from new jobs, and even this relatively straightforward one taught me quite a few:

  • People want to be listened to when they speak.  Even gregarious types who seem to only want to say something for the sake of having said anything at all appreciate it when you really hear what they’ve said.  New Yorkers know when you’re placating instead of listening.
  • If you put up a sign on a door that says “Next Door Please”, about a third of the people who encounter it will ignore its advice.  10 percent will ask the doorman for help with this conundrum.
  • Doormen get asked for directions to subways.  A lot.
  • A lot of people don’t mind if doormen are able to eavesdrop on their phone conversations, but will clam up if other building residents are within earshot.
  • Union doormen take their job very seriously.  Also, a doorman without a book to read is in dire need of someone who will listen.  They’ve been sitting around all day thinking of what to say.
  • Doormen hate it when you litter in front of their buildings. It’s like dropping trash into someone’s fish tank at home.
  • If you don’t want to write and there’s a sandwich nearby, it will take all of your willpower to choose the writing over the sandwich.
  • Any time of day, no excuses, a doorman would love a cup of coffee.  Know how your doorman takes his coffee, and you’ve gained a loyal follower.
  • If there’s a clip board with signatures on it, it is dumb to ask “Should I sign in?”
  • Sign in.
  • Everyone says hello to the doorman.  Nice people also say good night.


I should say right off that this is one of those blog posts that could spark an urban legend by getting its author, me, canned. But probably not.

I’ve taken a second job. It seems in a year I’ve gone from hating all forms of work to filling every day of the week with someone else’s idea of how I can be useful. Honestly, I kinda like it this way.

These two jobs are polar opposites. On weekdays I’m using my left brain, making courageous decisions, managing others and myself, attending meetings, and taking on a lot of responsibilities. On weekends I’m standing in one place making sure people can get into a building.

What’s so nice about that, you ask? Well, for one thing, every full weekend I work is another hundred dollars off the debt. Snowflaked! The debt is starting to look pretty feeble. At this rate I’ll be back at zero before my wedding in February.

On top of that, I’d been looking for a way to tell the world that I need roughly 16 hours a week to just be somewhere with my thoughts and a pen and paper. At 20 lines an hour, I’ll be able to crank out 320 lines of poetry every weekend. And now that I’ve got a little momentum, 20 lines an hour bursts out of me pretty easily.

Yeah, I’ll miss lazy weekends. There will be times when I feel cranky and defeated. I’ll ask myself why I’ve done this. But then I’ll add up my debts and see how they’ve dwindled. I’ll flip through my notebook and see the way all those lines are flush in the left margin and zigzag on the right, the way a big long poem is supposed to. And when my goals are met and people ask where I found the wherewithal I’ll say it wasn’t easy. I’ll say I worked two jobs.