I fucked up a couple of weeks ago. I should have done more to defend my friend, and I didn't. It's been eating at me ever since. I'll explain:
This friend, whom I've known for as long as I've been working here, works at a nearby store. I see her almost every day, as it's a part of my routine. She's supportive of my work and what I'm trying to accomplish. She attended a screening of the Doorman pilot at the New York Television Festival last year. I won't go into to detail about her physical appearance, because that isn't fair. What I can say, is she's person a beautiful human being, inside and out. She also, by her own accord, stands out in a crowd.
To backtrack a bit - the day before, a loud, obnoxious guest, "Fred", with a seemingly not-foreign accent exits a taxi with his family. They have loads and load of heavy suitcases, and as I begin to unload them, he greets me:
Fred - "Ah! This is the guy who's going to help us!"
I smile, because he sounds American and has several slices of currency in his hand. The sight of money has become an endorphin rush for me. Three years into this hustle, money is all I see. I've said it in my more recent posts - my objective (as it should have been from the beginning), is to get in, make as much money as I can, however I can, and get the fuck out.
I load up the five suitcases onto a cart, then keep it moving to the front desk while he loudly talks to his family about how great it is to be home. His wife and children speak with thick, Australian accents.
I take the cart to the front desk and wish them a nice stay. He hands me two dollars. A little light for five heavy suitcases, but I rarely, if ever get tipped brining people in. I also had only made 20 bucks up until that point in the day, so I had to be grateful for it.
Doorman - "Thank you, thank you! Thank you so much! If you need anything, I'll be right outside the door! THANK YOUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!"
All this dancing for two dollars.
Apparently, his backstory was that he grew up on Long Island and moved to Australian for work when he was in his twenties. There, he met his wife and they built a family. This was his first time back. Sounds like the beginnings of a nice little story, huh?
He sent his family to Times Square to do some sightseeing, then proceeded to pester and chew the ears off every single member of the front office staff. I tend to avoid people like that, because I'm the only asshole in the building who can't leave their post for any reason. The front desk agents, the bellmen, security - they can simply walk away and pretend they have business elsewhere. Me? I have to stand in that very spot. I get written up if I abandon my post. I'm stuck there. So, if some gum-flapper wants to tell me his life story whilst smoking a half-a-pack of cigarettes in my face, I have to take it.
By night two, I'd managed to avoid him at all costs. Whenever he'd enter the lobby, asking all the staff where he could "get into trouble" while his wife and kids were getting ripped off by panhandlers in Times Square, all of the staff would scatter like roaches.
That left me, talking to my friend, who was on her way home from work after closing up shop. She asked me about how the new episodes are coming along, and I asked her about the artistic endeavors she's working on. It's always nice when the artists/survival-jobists in the neighborhood find and inspire each other. That's one thing tourists don't realize when they come to New York - they think the artists are playing guitar somewhere in Washington Square Park, or rehearsing a Broadway play, or on some huge film production. Nope, a large bulk of the artists in the city are serving you your cheeseburger at TGI Fridays, or carrying your bags into a hotel, or dealing with your belligerent ass at 3:30am when all they could think of is getting a few hours of shut-eye for an audition at 9am.
My friend's phone rings, and she walks away to take it. Of course, like clockwork, Fred comes strolling outside, because he's worn out the welcome of everyone else in the lobby. Luckily for me, most people assume that, since I'm a doorman, I'm only capable of talking about sports and directions to the nearest tourist attraction. This leaves less time talking to idiots, and more time thinking about how I'm going to get the fuck out of this place.
He walks outside. I try to look elsewhere, not trying to engage him in any conversation.
Fred - "How's it going, buddy?"
He gave me two dollars and I promised him the world. I seriously regret this now.
Fred - "So, where could I get into trouble around here? My wife and kids are in Times Square!"
He dryly cackles and nudges my arm.
Doorman - "I mean, I don't know. Do you want to go to a bar or something?"
Fred - "Sure! A bar, or maybe a strip- HOLY SHIT!"
This jolts me. I finally look at him, and he's staring at my friend, who's pacing around the sidewalk, enthusiastically talking on the phone with a smile on her face.
He leans into my ear and whispers:
Fred - "Is that… an 'it'…"
He called her "an it". I feel the back of my neck get hot. I bite back at him.
Doorman - "She's actually a friend of mine."
That should have been the end of story. Any decent human being would say, "oh, shit. I'm sorry" and stopped talking.
Fred did not. And for whatever reason, the thought of him handing me those two, crumbled up singles upon his arrival flashed in my brain. In that moment, I felt obligated to not rip him a new asshole.
Fred - "Oh? Well, you know. I'm not trying to be mean."
What I should have said - "Yes, you are. Stop talking to me."
What I actually said - "Uh huh."
Fred - "You know, because I live in Australia, and we're just starting to get 'them' there."
What I should have said - "I don't want to have this conversation with you. Stop referring to 'them' like they're electronic products. Please get away from me."
What I actually said - "Oh yeah?"
He looks at her like she's a zoo animal and folds his hands behind his back.
Fred - "Now, I'm not trying to be mean, but she could go either way."
What I should have said - "I just told you, she's a friend of mine. Shut the fuck up and get away from me."
What I actually said - Nothing. I said nothing.
Fred - "And Australia is right near Thailand, and there all sorts of shit coming down from up there."
What I should have said - "If you say one more fucking word to me, I'm going to slap the taste out of your mouth. What? Because I wear this little hat and carry bags for people, I'm as ignorant and tactless as you are? You don't know a god damn thing about her. Who the fuck are you to judge her from a distance like this, staring at her and making wildly stupid observations? You're a father. What if, when your daughter grows up, some ignorant cunt tries to initiate a conversation about her in this manner? How would you feel about that, you fucking lowlife garbage?"
What I actually did - I walked away.
Now, in the scope of my job and all things considered, I did the right thing. If I curse him out, and he gets defensive and it escalates, I could lose my job. I walked away from him mid-sentence, not giving him the satisfaction of engaging in his ignorance. He wanted a reaction, and didn't get one. For that, I'm slightly proud.
But I've screamed at people for much less. I've punched taxis because the driver didn't want to drive all the way to the airport at the end of his 16-hour shift. I've called people all sorts of horrific things, defending guests and civilians, people who don't give a shit about me. I hesitated to defend my friend's honor, all because this schmuck tipped me two measly bucks on the way in. For that, I'm ashamed.
Would she have wanted me to get into an altercation for her? To play the dramatic hero, something that I admittedly and shamelessly tend to do? I highly doubt it. But I had so much more to say to that cock sucker. In retrospect, I can't help but think I could have taught him a lesson. I know it's unlikely. I'm going to teach him manners to a guy that age. It's one thing I've learned over the years. You can't teach people manners. But a piece of my mind is a dish I love to serve, and I failed to this time.