Sunday afternoon a little over an hour into my shift one of the tenant’s kids, a lovely 13 year old named Laura came into the building holding a big zip-loc bag of cookies.
“Would you like a gingerbread cookie?” She asked.
“Only if you baked it yourself.”
“Actually I did, me and my friends made them.”
“OK, thanks,” I said, accepting one of the cookies from the bag. I took the cookie and stashed it in the front desk; I didn’t want to eat it right away.
Eating while working as a doorman in the lobby is a tricky thing, actually the rules say you can’t, but since I don’t get a lunch break, or any kind of break at all in the 8 hours I have to stand in the lobby, I’ve learned to make do.
I learned that the thing to do is to have dry food that can be easily eaten and put down safely at a second’s notice, in case someone comes in and you have to pay attention to them. That’s the main complaint among the tenants, that a doorman doesn’t look up from his newspaper or continues to eat whatever he’s eating rather than run over for a quick chat (even though some of them don’t talk to you unless they want something) or just to stand there subserviently as they wait for the elevator. I try and keep the elevator in the lobby so they don’t have to wait; this earns brownie points from the tenants.
Usually I bring a sandwich to work, one I make myself; refried beans with jalepeño jack cheese and tomato slices on whole-wheat sourdough. I eat the sandwich at 9.
I bring a banana as well, a good solid banana that’s still a little green. Too yellow and it gets bruised on the way to work, and tastes awful. I eat the banana at 6.
To fill in the rest of the time, I have to have a snack, just in case; and lately I bring those Ryvita crackers, good texture and pleasant enough taste, though not so enticing that I would eat a whole box of them in one shift. Also very convenient; dry and easy to put down.
Going to the bathroom is a chore as well, but I’ll save that for another blogpost.
Sometimes people give me things, like the young Laura, and that’s always nice, and sometimes they ask if I want anything when they are going to the store. Not many ask, but when they do, even if I say, “no thanks, I’m fine,” I really appreciate the thought. Makes me feel cared for. I don’t usually accept unless I’m really hungry or thirsty.
Some people insist, “You must want something…”
That’s true, but what I want people can’t really give me; so to appease them I usually say “Get me a bagel or a soda,” I don’t actually have to eat it or drink it, I can always save it for later or give it to the next guy, which is what I do with the sodas.
Someone moved out last week and we raided the apartment to take whatever she left. In the pantry I found unopened packages of something called Scandinavian Bran Crispbread, and the package boasts that it is the “appetite control cracker” and has “LOW GI.”
I won’t have to buy the Ryvita crackers for a while.
So Sunday these were my backups.
Last week another tenant’s daughter, an 18 year old, also lovely, said she was baking cookies with her sister and asked if I wanted some. I never refuse homemade cookies, so I said yes. She brought me down three peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, and thoughtfully asked if I had a nut allergy, which I fortunately don’t. I ate one every day until they were gone.
I asked myself when I should have the gingerbread cookie, after the banana? After my sandwich? At 8?
8 sounded good, sort of an appetizer for the sandwich at 9. In the meantime I had those bran crackers, and at 5 I opened the package and broke off a piece of one of the crackers.
It had the texture of crushed seed hulls, and tasted like sand. No wonder they are called “appetite control crackers,” one bite of these and you can lose your appetite forever. I immediately thought of the gingerbread cookie, but waited.
I read the paper, the Sunday News. I read all about Colin Ferguson, the LIRR mass murderer. Then it started snowing, and I put down the runners.
Then two families with luggage arrived simultaneously, one from L.I. and one from Australia. We have only one luggage cart so the Long Islanders got that, since they arrived seconds before the Australians. I didn’t have time to think about cookies or crackers.
Then food deliveries started arriving, I usually get 2 rushes, just before 6 and just before 9. Everything settled down around 8, perfect timing, and I sat down on my stool to enjoy my gingerbread cookie. It had a funny shape, I can’t decide if it’s a bear or an elephant with no trunk seen from above. But it sure tasted like heaven.
It must be nice to leave work and have a real meal.