Holiday bonus – the etiquette

If you live in a doorman building, there is a custom in New York, and possibly the wider US, to give a holiday bonus to the building’s doormen, concierges, lobby attendants and other members of the entourage.

In preparation for this event, a safe is placed on the reception desk wrapped in Christmas paper, complete with a slot in the top inviting envelopes to be inserted. And in case you don’t know who to address the envelopes to, a handy list of all likely recipients is printed out for you to take away. (There are 13 in our building.)

I have no problem with the concept. Salaries range from $25,000 to around $39,000, so they deserve a boost, and I’m sure the boost can be quite significant. Our building has 27 floors, each with around 18 apartments. If you allow an average of $25 bonus per apartment, then this works out at $12,150.

My issue is with the circumstance which surrounds the bonus. From Thanksgiving onwards, there is a palpable increase in the level of service offered to us tenants, no doubt in an attempt to elevate our contribution. This year, however, I didn’t get round to giving mine until the last minute (today). Over the last few days, I have noticed a similarly palpable decline in service (below the original baseline), even a level of contempt, shown by some of the concierges. It’s an interesting study in human behaviour.

Here is an interesting article about the dynamics involved.


One Response to “Holiday bonus – the etiquette”

  1. Rob on December 29th, 2005 06:51

    Dan, this is another example of you becoming a little insular and detatched, living as you do in Manhatten.

    To suggest a doorman needs a little more $$$ as they earn ‘only’ $25-39K is crazy. FWIW, here in Australia the average wage is around $50K AUD. That places some of your poor old doormen as above average earners.

    OK, more to the point: remember how lucky we all are (including your doorman), visit and give your $25 to someone who needs it a little more!

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