The image of a courtly doorman greeting residents and guests at the entryway to some posh building is a familiar one. And doormen are usually just that: men. According to the Service Employees International Union, of all the roughly 13,000 doorpeople in New York City, only around 300 are doorwomen.
The Atlantic recently did a feature on one of the rare exceptions, Marilyn Rivera, who’s the doorwoman for the more than 2,000 residents of the luxury Windsor Court towers in Manhattan. Her experience as a woman in this male-dominated profession gives her a unique perspective.
It’s not a career Rivera consciously chose. She was working at a bank, and a friend she’d made at lunch at a local restaurant turned out to be the superintendent of Windsor Towers. “One day he said, ‘You know something, Marilyn, I know you have a job but this type of job would be perfect for you,’” Rivera told The Atlantic. His offer piqued her curiosity: “I am a people person, so it was a different step for me, but I went for it.”
It turned out to be a good choice for Rivera because she finds herself involved in so many people’s lives, and “Everything is interesting — whether it’s a weekend, a busy day, or a holiday.” She mentions how touched she was when a young father wanted to decorate the lobby with balloons when his wife was returning from the hospital after giving birth to their first child, or the bride who wanted to be photographed in the lobby in her wedding dress.
Over time, she says, it all gets to feel like one big family for her, and she loves that “there’s always time to say, ‘Hey how’s your mom,’ or ‘How’s your grandfather,’ or ‘Hey, I saw the baby the other day, she’s walking already.’ They take the time out of their day to stop by to mention this or that to me, and it’s really great because you get to know them and their needs.”
So what is it like being a woman in such a male-dominated profession? It comes in handy, actually, in situations such as when a parent asks her to keep an eye on a young adult living on her own for the first time. This mom of two is totally qualified for the task.
As for how she fits in with doormen: “I work with 35 men. I've never gotten treated differently, but once in a blue moon you have someone that comes to bring a package and they’ll tell me I need to give this to the doorman. I’ll say, ‘How about a doorwoman, would that work for you?’ It will make them smile.”