Maybe, The Rudest Concierge In Toronto?

I know, I know – you’re already thinking, “He’s going to talk about condo concierges, again?”

But you have to understand that I wouldn’t be telling these stories if situations like this didn’t keep arising.

Last week, I met maybe the rudest concierge I’ve ever come across in Toronto, but to make matters worse, it seemed like she genuinely enjoyed what she was doing, and even thought she was in the right…

CondoConcierge2

If I had to guess, I’d say this is probably the……..fifth?  Maybe sixth story I’ve written like this, about obnoxious, rude, unhelpful, or overbearing concierges in Toronto.  But after 1,600 blog posts, that’s not bad, as a percentage…

It does, however, underscore a problem that most people are aware exists in Toronto, but as it purely defines the term “First World Problems,” we’re probably not going to worry enough to actually do anything about it.

My condo, which has been the subject of several rants about property management, concierges, and the like, recently replaced all the concierges with newbies, in what I have to think is an attempt to “control” the employees by property management, and/or the board.

Maybe the concierges were getting a bit too friendly with the residents, and management figured they’d need to start over?

Maybe it was when the concierges were instructed by management not to EVER open the door for a resident, and insist the resident use their FOB, and the concierges took that instruction to heart for all of a day?

It’s just ironic – that when concierges get “too friendly” with residents, they’re almost deemed to be not doing their job.

In Toronto, it seems, condo concierges are trained to be as smug as the cop who pulls you over for speeding, as power-tripping as the guy searching your luggage at NEXUS, and as helpful as the guy who works in the “Lumber” section at Home Depot and claims he can’t answer any questions about carpet.

Last week, I went into a downtown Toronto condo building which shall remain nameless, because to be perfectly honest, I was there to list a property that will hit the market after Labour Day.

It was probably one of the worst experiences I’ve had in a condo, not necessarily because of any one incident, but rather the whole package of complete and utter unhelpfulness, which was deliberate on the part of the concierge.

I accessed the visitor parking garage by following another car in.  I know – I’m to blame for the entire mess ahead, right?  Well I was going to buzz, but the door opened, and I followed.

Once down in the underground, I went to the elevator, and pressed the button for the concierge to allow access, but he or she did not.  I waved at the camera, pressed the button again, but the door didn’t open.  I tried for a while, to be honest, but I wanted to be on time for my client, so I eventually gave up.  I took the stairs to the street, and then walked a half-block down to the main entrance, and headed into the lobby.

I approached the concierge, and said, “Hello.”  I waited for a response, but she was really busy with some important papers on a clipboard.  She waited a couple minutes, and then looked up as though I had just arrived, and said, “May I help you?”

The irony is – they ask the question, but they don’t really want to help.  “May I help you” is basically code for “I’m about to be really, really unhelpful.”

I joked, “Yeah, hello, I’m the guy who just frantically waved from P1 trying to get into the elevator?  Anyways, no worries, I took the stairs, and I’m here to get a parking pass.”

“Oh, I’m not worried,” she said, dripping with cynicism.  “But I guess you were resourceful enough to find your way here.”  And then she just stared at me.  Cold.

“Okay,” said, “So I’m here to get a parking pass.”

“Let me check,” she said, as she looked around past some newspapers and her lunch (not exaggerating – this is verbatim), and then said, “I don’t see one here.  Was one left for you?”

“No,” I told her.  “I don’t think so.  I’m here to see Bob Smith in 1515.”

“Did Bob leave a pass for you?” she asked.  “Because here at 123 Smith Street, we don’t just had out passes.  The resident needs to leave one for you.”

“Okay, I guess I’ll just have to get one drawn up then,” I told her, not exactly aware of the process.  “Can you help me with that?”

Famous last words.

“Sure,” she said, “In a moment.”

She then turned to a girl standing next to me, and helped her instead.  The girl was a resident, so I guess they have a two-tier system there where they help residents first, which I guess I don’t really find fault with.

This was the amazing part though, that really drove home how important this concierge felt her job was.

The girl wanted a parking pass for her boyfriend, and the concierge asked where the boyfriend was.  The girl said he was in front of the parking garage, waiting to get in.

“Tell him to come closer,” the concierge said, as she looked at the TV screen with the security camera.

“Closer?” the resident asked.

“Yes,” the concierge said.  “I need to see him.”

The resident then got on her phone and called the boyfriend.  She said, “Hey, can you go closer to the camera?”

The concierge stared into the screen, squinting, as though she was trying to see if there was anything in the boyfriend’s teeth.  “Closer,” she said, and the resident again relayed, “Closer.”

After another round of “closer,” the concierge said, “Okay, he’s good,” and I began to wonder if the concierge was looking to see if the guy was attractive enough.  Or maybe she wanted to see if a monkey was driving the car, or if the driver had a t-shirt that said “Serial Killer.”

The concierge allowed access, and then went through the “make, model, year, colour” of the car, which is done in several other buildings and I still feel it’s overkill, and issued a pass to the resident.

The concierge did not turn back to me.  She just sat there, doing her own thing.

“Sooooo……about that pass?” I asked.

“Oh, right, you’re still here,” she said to me.

We exchanged a couple more pleasantries, and finally she said, “I’ll call up to Bob and have him come down to verify your identity and see about that parking pass.”

Hey look, I know a con artist or serial killer could be playing this woman, trying to get a parking pass, but should we all live our lives in fear of the worst case scenario?  “Verify your identity?”

The concierge called Bob, but there was no answer.  She called again, and I said, “You know, he’s got a week-old baby, and a toddler, maybe we can avoid this?”

She did the slowest, most exaggerated turn of her head, like a cartoon, and said, “Oh……reeeeeally?  So somebody has a baby and that changes protocol?  I……don’t……think…..so.”

I told her, “Okay, let me try him,” and she smirked and said, “Um, no, I don’t think so.  You could be calling anybody.”

Sure, I guess I could be.  I could be running a massive scam.  I could be doing a lot of things.  But I’m not.  And 99.999% of the time, the person isn’t a serial killer, but some concierges act as though they’re standing next to the guy crapping out cocaine-filled balloons at airport security, when really they’re just there to issue a goddam parking pass to a guy in a suit who has already provided a business card, a RECO license, and a driver’s license…

During this melee, a pizza delivery man came in, and looked at the concierge and said, “Pizza.”

She said, “What?”

He said, “Pizza, for delivery.”

She replied, “Is that a question?  Or a statement?  What is it I can help you with?”

Honestly, she was going out of her way to be rude and obnoxious.

“Pizza for delivery, 10th floor.”

“Did the tenth floor order a pizza,” she asked, “Or do you have a specific resident on the tenth floor to whom you are delivering that pizza, and if so, would you like me to verify that they authorize you to enter?”

Sarcasm and cynicism.  Snide and smug.

She called the resident, the pizza guy went up, and then he came down.  And I stood there like a moron for ten minutes.

At one point I said, “You know, Bob might have the phone off the hook – maybe his baby is sleeping?  I could go up and knock on the door and see if they’re home.”

She paused, slowly smiled, and then let out a fake laugh.

“Sure, sure,” she said.  “Why don’t I just allow you unauthorized access to the building?”

With a statement like that, she was just showing off her knowledge of big words and buzz-terms, but it also showed me how much she enjoyed the power she had.

Like I said at the onset, these are clearly first world problems.  We’re not exactly riddled with disease here; we’re talking about not getting a parking pass in a timely and carefree manner.

But it was clear that this woman was going to make simple tasks difficult, and go out of her way to be deliberately unhelpful.

If you could just picture the scene – with her saying “closer” and the resident waiting for a parking pass saying “closer,” back-and-forth, over and over, you’d get a sense of how much time must be wasted on a daily basis at that front desk so that a person with low self-esteem can gain a sense of self-importance by making other people’s day’s tougher.

It’s just a parking pass, I know.

It’s just a pizza delivery man, and he deals with much worse.

But I picked this one seemingly-simple twelve-minute interaction to demonstrate that a “concierge” in Toronto is no longer like the guy pictured at the top.  They’re no lo longer there to help.

Eventually, my client walked through the lobby, and the day was saved.  The concierge smiled at him, and was delightful, and I wondered if she had a personality disorder, or just enjoyed being nice to people she needed to be nice to, and enjoyed being rude and snide to everybody else.

So here’s the burning question: how do concierges come to be like this?

Do property managers encourage concierges to act like they’re guarding Fort Knox?

Do cynical, snide, petty people all seem to be attracted to this line of work?

I don’t have the answer, but I do know that for every person who says, “Oh I love my concierge!  Mike – he’s the best, he’s so nice and he always says hello!”  There are five people that despise their condo’s front desk staff.

And as more and more condos are built downtown, and more and more people seek employment in the industry, condo concierges are losing that fine art of being “helpful,” and instead are taking out all of their inner demons on residents of the building, every day.  Every single day…

33 Comments

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  1. Line scan camera says:

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  2. Maggie says:

    concierge’s

  3. Maggie says:

    I understand the concerges reaction to the pizza guy. She isn’t a machine. I don’t think it’s any more rude of her to ask him to speak to her in complete sentences than his rudeness of saying one word to her and expecting a positive interaction.

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  6. June says:

    I agree with one of the commenters above that the concierge was just doing her job and ensure the safety of the building. HOWEVER- being in a customer related role, I believe her attitude is not suited for the position. Thank fully most of the concierge at my building are very nice, helpful and always smiling :)! I can say however, having a concierge that is mean and evil does make you not want to go through the front.

  7. Bertie Wooster says:

    I used to rent in a condo in the entertainment district where one new years eve, 2 guys tailgated into the back door and raped a girl in the elevator. The property management company tightened up security after that.

  8. WasNYCnowTO says:

    Please. There’s no excuse for her. In NYC, where I lived with concierges for years, nobody threw out that kind of attitude. And there were actual security threats. This is like the power-tripping airport agents and their ‘security theatrics’ – they do it because they can.

  9. Paully says:

    Maybe the modern concierge is learning his or her manners by reading blog comments online. That would explain a lot.

  10. Kyle says:

    In today’s world i don’t really get what the Concierge’s job is. Seems like a vestige from a time before technology could handle giving access to certain people. They are like the condo equivalent of the subway station ticket booth guy.

  11. Jose says:

    Mike is extra salty, I would hate to live in or frequent a condo you work at. Hopefully you find a more fulfilling line of work.

    1. Boris says:

      I would put a my hammerfist through his skull, his brains inundated with dangerous statist, Orwellian, Kafkaesque ideas would drip off the floor!

      1. Mike says:

        Boris, if there was an allowable protocol for that I would invite you to initiate such inundating. But rules are rules.

        RULES!!! SHE’s (I’m) doing my JOB!

  12. Irena says:

    Mike has a superiority complex. We have mutiple concierges in our building and none are rude as this lady outlined in the article and all are very security concious. You can be both nice and firm at the same time. No need to be snooty. If I encountered a guard like this, I would not buy a unit in the building. Our guards are like our family and you should see how they are treated just because they are nice; like GOLD!

  13. Mike says:

    Lol, I guess you’ve figured out that I’m the concierge! I thought the name Mike would throw you guys off.

    I’m just doing my job. Being rude is just a point of view, I think I’m nice. So don’t comment on my behavior. You don’t know me! You’re not me.

  14. lefty schwartz says:

    Pass her number or building to us. She’s the perfect David Spade type person we’ve been looking for. We are developing a television series based on a high end condo that has an eclectic collection of snooty owners, douchebag 35k millionaires, the girl next door, and the girl who has many, many, many, many gentlemen callers. We’re calling it “Shangri La”

  15. Jimbo says:

    It is a lot more civilised and appropriate to sternly tell someone they broke the rules and refuse to give a pass on those grounds rather than act like a 10 year old. Personally if it was an agent that pulled your stunt, I would like to think I would let the transgression go based on the fact you probably have to enter x many building each day and you want to save time.

    1. Mike says:

      I get it, tell someone that knew they were breaking the rules that they broke the rules and let everything else slide. Nice, so how is that a deterrent?

      Key point to take away, next time he comes to the parking garage he’s going to buzz in rather than just follow someone in. ie follow the rules.

      The girl at the desk doesn’t hold a lot of power, we can agree on that. But you can’t expect to exploit her without feeling the wrath of the limited power she does posses. Meaning that you you have to wait to get what you need, you need to sit behind others when they come up.

      This girls wasn’t rude, she was doing her job. Unfortunately not everyone respects the job she’s paid to do.

      1. Mike says:

        Rules are rules, everyone should follow them.

        That’s the way I am. I follow every rule I can reasonably follow. Why shouldn’t I? It’s the right way to behave.

        Having someone make a special exception isn’t fair to others or the system that the rules are trying to protect. I don’t do anything for anyone, even my mom follows my personal rules for when to call me and how long we talk. So if even she can follow the rules, then so can everyone else in my life.

        That being said, I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, but if I were you I’d follow the rules.

        Rules following isn’t a chore, it’s a good thing. Like shaking hands and smiling, though I keep that to a minimum. Try to follow one more rule each day, and by the end of a week you’ll be well on your way to enjoying all the rules out there! At the end of the month you won’t even think they are rules, you’ll just have mixed them right into your life. By the end of a year you’ll be wonder why there aren’t more rules.

        Rules Rules Rules. People doing their jobs. Rules and Jobs > pleasantries. Rules > Job. Rules!

        1. Boris says:

          Rules are merely suggestion, and I was born to break them.

          Nanny state, rules, authoritarianism, PRoC, civil liberties, individualism, fuck you, do what I want, love pissing off guys like Mike.

          Sorry, just my train of thought.

          1. Fro Jo says:

            Google “Nasty, brutish and short”. In addition to my picture, you’ll find that these are old ideas not easily reconciled.

  16. Donny says:

    Next time ask her how much an hour she makes because you know someone with a grade 12 education that would be perfect for a job like hers.

    1. Mike says:

      She could easily retort by asking what David makes and that the qualifications to be a Real Estate Agent only require a Grade 12 education.

      1. Mike says:

        In fact, she could have easily spent the whole afternoon listing jobs that only require a Grade 12 education. Heck, in some countries you could be a doctor!

      2. jeff316 says:

        OH ZANG

  17. Marie Watson says:

    The previous commenter has a point about the concierge “just doing her job”. Having said that, there is no reason for her rude and snarky demeanour. “Closer. Closer” has nothing to do with “just doing her job. ““Is that a question? Or a statement? What is it I can help you with?” has nothing to do with doing her job. In the situations outlined by David here, there is no reason for this concierge not to be courteous and pleasant to visitors and residents.

    1. Mike says:

      “closer, closer” has everything to do with her job when someone tries to get into the parking garage but is too far away from the cameras to see who is in the car. Remember, this wasn’t a person who used the “call” button but someone who came to the desk. There is probably a rule hat anyone entering the garage has to be photographed. Button and camera, perfectly aligned; however when someone parks out of the range of the camera and then sends someone to the desk it requires “snarky” improve.

      Key point of the night: probably no one was assaulted and nothing was stolen. Rude and snarky got the job done.

      1. Mike says:

        Closer, Closer is also the 2016 followup to the original Closer (2004). In case you for forgot the plot of the original movie:

        Smart-but-ineffectual journalist Dan “We use euphemisms!” cannot decide between his girlfriend, loving-but-clingy waitress Alice, or his lover cold-but-intellectual photographer Anna; herself indecisive between Dan and honest-but-thuggish “You’re bloody gorgeous!” doctor Larry. The film, as Tarantino might put it, puts the four leading characters in a box and strips them apart.

        The follow-up will be an Action/Drama Hybrid featuring Tom Cruise (obviously not playing Ethan Hunt) and myself Mike playing a Simon Pegg like character (minus the accent of course haha). Much of the Drama takes place in said concierge lobby, and much of the Action takes place in flashback sequences to when I was an “outside” concierge and not this chained down desk jockey!

        1. Fro Jo says:

          Thanks Mike! (David, we need a like button.)

  18. Mike says:

    I don’t see a problem. The fact that you followed a car in there is exactly why she’s doing her job. The other car could have had someone in it that has been banned from the building, we don’t know. Fact is she was doing her job. You thought you could just maneuver around the rules; if that was the case, there’s no reason for her to even be there. The fact that you have a business card or a RECO license doesn’t give you the ability to enter into any building you wish. They have a protocol. Someone having a baby doesn’t change the protocol. This woman was just doing her job, you might not like it but she doesn’t work for you, you might think the rules and protocols are stupid but you don’t pay the bills at that building so it doesn’t matter. If you walk into someones house and they ask you to take off your shoes do you just say, “screw it, that’s a stupid rule my shoes are clean”. If the person insisted that you remove your shoes to the point they didn’t let you enter into the unit would you write a story about how stupid some home owners/other agents can be?

    I’m sure if you had used the intercom before the garage door and said, “Hello, my name is David Fleming, I’m a real estate agent with Bosley and I’m here to see Bob in suite XXXX” you would have had to have found something else to write about.

  19. GinaTO says:

    One of the reasons I bought a condo with no concierge – I just didn’t see the point of it. And now I’m happy to deal with never-ending renos on my house instead of dealing with these never-ending condo rules.

    1. Mike says:

      I don’t see a problem. The fact that you followed a car in there is exactly why she’s doing her job. The other car could have had someone in it that was actually a mannequin out of a job now that the HOV lanes are gone, a lifelike human shaped figure with an unemployed axe to grind. Fact is she was doing her job, likely saving all of you from a grisly “Today’s Special” mannequin revenge episode. You thought you could just maneuver around the rules; if that was the case, there’s no reason for her to even be there, she might as well give her job to the mannequin. Why didn’t you think of THAT David, should she have just been so “nice” and just given away her own job? And to what, a soulless glorified clothes hanger? The fact that you have a business card or a RECO license doesn’t give you the ability to enter into any building you wish. They have a protocol, and unlike ghost protocol starring Tom Cruise, you aren’t a super spy that can just drop into the building down a zip line, stopping only inches from the lobby floor. Someone having a baby doesn’t change the ghost protocol, they would have to still zip line, but probably they should use a safer method for the baby. This woman was just doing her job, you might not like it but she doesn’t work for you, or me, but she does work for someone that has protocols. You might think the rules and protocols are stupid but you don’t pay the bills at that building so it doesn’t matter. If you walk into someones house and they ask you to take off your shoes do you just say, “screw it, that’s a stupid rule my shoes are clean, plus I’m not even walking on your floor I’m dropping in from your skylight, which I cut a hole in with my laser glass cutter and then used my trusty zipline”. If the person insisted that you remove your shoes and fix the 18 inch hole in their skylight would you write a story about how stupid some home owners/other agents can be, saying something as insane as “that would be mission impossible to fix every single skylight”

      I’m sure if you had used the intercom before the garage door and said, “Hello, my name is Ethan Hunt, I’m an agent with IMF and I’m here to see Bob in suite XXXX” you would have had to have found something else to write about.

  20. RPG says:

    David it sounds like maybe it’s time to buy a house?

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