BY BETTE DEWING
A wise man, Dr. Samuel Johnson, counseled that “we often need to be reminded as well as informed.” That recalled news that should be remembered, such as the recent tragic, accidental, line-of-duty death of Miguel Angel Gonzalez. And this is to remind us of the risks doormen often take on their tenants’ behalf. And in a time of less and less face-to-face, voice-to -voice exchange, and small, often distant families, how doormen indispensably add to a building’s quality of life as well its safety. Pondering all this could also be a Lenten or pre-Passover time reflection.
Again, although thankfully this tragic line-of-duty death received considerable media coverage but for our record, 59-year-old Miguel Angel Gonzalez was clearing ice and snow from the entrance door steps of 333 East 93rd Street when he slipped and fell headfirst through a plate-glass window. Gonzalez, so beloved by his wife and family, was also an caring friend, not only to the apartment house where he’d worked for 28 years, but to those in the neighborhood.
“He was just the sweetest kindest man” was the general consensus. And you know most doormen do smile and say hello — and don’t we need that, and to do likewise — a lot. But many do connect briefly with their doormen as another responsible adult in their life in a time of little or no extended family and where apartment house generations don’t often interact. Resolve needed there, too.
But about those risks doormen take, the everyday, most frequent kind like hailing cabs in rush hour or inclement weather and standing out in the street. Ah, but we tenants, no matter how rushed, must not let them do that or take unnecessary chances and risks – which relates to toting heavy luggage and boxes where two people are needed to “lift that bale.” Doormen, and, it should be said, also doorwomen, should be told by others in charge not to take unnecessary risks, to be careful and take their time — take their time. So should supers and porters of course. Safety first. And incidentally, carpeted lobby floors surely make a doorman’s life healthier, as well as an available stool or a chair.
Maybe none of the above could have saved the life of Miguel Gonzalez slipping and falling through the glass window, which clearly was not the shatter proof kind. So the story really got out there. And how we need such “caring people stories” and also about the need for safe working and living conditions like shatter-proof glass. Ironically this apartment house is a Mt. Sinai Hospital property and reportedly for physicians with residencies.
Somehow the medical profession must also be reminded that doormen like Miguel Gonzalez, help prevent illness with their everyday caring exchanges with tenants, not to mention looking out for those who are ailing or somehow endangered, or too much alone. Doormen are often literal life savers and always a general lifeline, with again, just the day-to-day exchanges that help make it that good day we blithely wish each other.
And surely related is that we learn about Gonzalez being an active member of the church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he lived. This man lived his “love one another” faith, about which believers often need reminding.
We all need reminding about caring for one another – being a good neighbor. More soon about all doormen do to make their buildings, their nabes, more of “that village it takes.” And what we can do so that Miguel Angel Gonzalez’s tragic line -of-duty death will not be in vain — his “lifeline for others” ways need to be acclaimed and adopted.