When Your Doorman Goes Missing in Action

Dear Bintel Brief,

I live a doorman apartment building. One of the night doormen, while a nice, friendly person, often seems bored by his job. The other night, I arrived home expecting an important package, but the doorman was nowhere to be found. Several other residents, and a few visitors, were standing in the lobby as well, waiting for him. There was a hastily scrawled note on his desk saying he would be back in five minutes. I waited for what must have been 10 minutes, and he never showed. During this period of time, the doors to the building were wide open, and anyone could have strolled inside.

The next morning, on my way to work, a different doorman told me I had a package. When he asked me why I hadn’t picked up the package the day before, I simply said the night doorman hadn’t been at his desk. The morning doorman immediately exchanged a meaningful look with the building’s superintendent, who happened to be standing nearby. They told me that this wasn’t the first time this night doorman had “disappeared” on the job, and that I should file a formal complaint with the management company.

I decided not to file a complaint, because I didn’t want to get the doorman in trouble. But when I arrived home that evening, the night doorman was back, and he had clearly heard about the exchange that morning. He said to me, in a defensive and less-than-friendly tone, that he’d been using the bathroom the night before. He added that I should have “waited” for him, and when I explained that I had, I didn’t get much of a response. It was clear that he thought I’d ratted him out to his colleague and boss, when in fact I hadn’t done so intentionally.

Did I do the right thing in not reporting him? What should I do moving forward?


Hanna Rosin is a writer for the Atlantic and Double X, and the author of “God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007). The Israeli-born, Queens-reared Rosin lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and their three children.

If you have a question for the Bintel Brief, e-mail bintelbrief@forward.com. Questions selected for publication are printed anonymously.

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When Your Doorman Goes Missing in Action

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