Apartment Building Porter JACK MELIA at work near York Avenue & 92nd Street, Upper East Side: In 1999, his job included one day a week where he filled in as doorman - thus, the uniform.
What are a porter's main responsibilities? Maintain the building - the service entrance, the lobby, make sure that there's no trash outside. Keep everything tidy and clean. How long have you worked here? I started in 1995, so 23 years. Is it a good job? Yes, it's a good company to work for. How many porters are there? 6 of us. This is a serious full-service situation. How many units are in the building? 300. 1-bedrooms and 2-bedrooms, that's it. 37 floors. No terraces? No. There's a roof deck that's open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and there's a gym in the building. Who do you talk to on the walkie talkie? I talk to the handyman and the super.Is the pay ok? Yeah, it's a union scale. You get to keep health insurance and pension and all that [when you retire].
What hours do you work? From 6-2:30. I'm sure it gets intense at moments but it seems like you have a pretty easy workflow. Yeah, it's pretty much routine. But then you know, in the day-to-day different things do happen. What's a busy day like? A busy day is like when there's a leak or something and you gotta help the handyman out, and you know, when everything falls apart basically at the same time.
Where do you live? Long Island - Bellmore, which is on the south shore. Where did you grow up? Ridgewood. I lived right on the borderline of Queens. Do you ever go back there? No. What do you think about all the change that has happened in the city over the last 17 years? A lot of construction since I've worked here. A lot of luxury high rises being built here. And where you grew up, too, probably. Yeah. I heard there's all trees on my block now. When I grew up, there were only 2 trees on the block.
Do you have hobbies? I would say high end electronics, like tv stuff and high end audio. I hook it up and put it together. How big is the screen of your biggest tv? I got a 62" but I'm looking to put a projecctor in front of it, with one of those roll down screens. What do you like to watch most of all? Horror. Bates Motel, Better Call Saul - stuff like that.
What can you tell me about your life over the last 18 years? In 1999 I had a 4-year old daughter and a 1-month old son. Now they're 21 and 17. My daughter - the 21 year old - is at FIT. She lives in the dorm there. She loves the city. For me it was the other way around. I grew up in Brooklyn but wanted to live on Long Island. And your 17-year old? He's about to go to college.
How do you feel about the last 18 years? Looking at that picture [from 1999], I was sad - just to see how time went. But the whole in between's been good, and I've had a good life so far.
How many weeks of vacation do you get each year? 4. Did you have to work up to that? Yeah. Do you go on good trips? I go to Montauk a lot. It's nice there. We usually stay at the Montauk Yacht Club. My kids like it. And I don't know how many more times they're gonna wanna come with us. They do their own things. So sad. Yeah, it goes fast. People always say life goes fast. It does. It really does.
[Sample work-related interruption] Mr. Sloan, how are you today? [Mr. Sloan: Thank you, sir, how are you?]
As you get older do you feel time goes faster? It definitely goes faster when you're older. Would you retire to Montauk? I would live in one of those communities for 55 & older so that I don't have to maintain anything.
What's your favorite lunch around here? You know that's funny - we were just talking about what are we gonna have for lunch. After 23 years you get tired of it. There's a butcher shop on 89th and York. They make sandwiches there. It's called Conti's. That's where I usually go. What do you get? I usually get a turkey sandwich. They make it with fresh turkey. How do you get it? Lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise. What kind of bread? Hero. No cheese? No cheese.