Changing Of The Guard

To call me a creature of habit or say that I dislike change would be an understatement.

So imagine my surprise when I get home one night and see a notice on the bulletin board that says a new “security” company has been retained by our condominium corporation, and the change is effective immediately.

This is going to take some getting used to…

I’ve always said that owning a condominium unit means having 300-some-odd partners in a business, whether you like it or not.

And although you might live alone, you still live amongst neighbours and some people that you see every single day.

In my building, that person was Fadi.

From the moment I moved into my building, Fadi worked as our “concierge.”  I hate when condos refer to these people as “security guards,” because they’re not, really.  Or at least that’s not how I want them to be portrayed.  These people faithfully help us throughout our daily routines.  They get to know us, open the door for us, greet our friends – and often even know our friends by name!

If you’ve ever been at 55 Stewart Street, you know how amazing their concierge is.  This young man knows everybody by name, and seems to know their occupations, interests, and even how old their dogs are.

The last time I was showing condos in the building, I marvelled at how he greeted every person through the door and seemed to know something about each of them.

“Hey, Mark!  What are you doing home so early?  It’s only 9pm!”  The resident, who was clearly in banking, smiled and said, “That’s because I just came home to change and I’m heading back to the office in an hour.”

“Hey Lindsay, are you bartending on Friday AND Saturday?”  The girl sighs, and says, “Yay me!  I love holding down two jobs and working seven days a week!”

This concierge truly puts all other desk-jockeys to shame.

I’m of the opinion that anybody who works a desk at a condominium is a concierge, and not “security.”

In my building, I have grown accustomed to seeing Fadi every day for the past five years.   He’s a cute little man of just over five feet, and he’s always smiling.  Come to think of it, I’ve never seen him without his trademark goatee…

Fadi knows many of my friends by name, and will often buzz them inside if I’m not answering my buzzer.

He’s helped me work around endless red tape by maybe sorta kinda putting the elevator on service for two minutes so I don’t have to fill out five pages of forms and bring a certified cheque, and he genuinely cares about my goings-on in the building.

As I said – I’m a creature of habit, and I hate change.  Now that there’s a new “security company” in our building, I can only assume that Fadi will be placed in another building, and I’ll have to start getting to know the new concierge all over.

The decision to remove a security company within a condominium in not one that a Board of Directors takes lightly.  Having served on a Board, I know this first-hand.

I can only assume that the Board at 230 King Street East had a good reason for doing so, although it hasn’t yet been explained to us.

Could it be about money?  Perhaps.  Maybe the price of the old company was just too high, or the prices out there for competing companies were just too low to pass up.

Could it be about service?  I can’t imagine, but maybe a few people complained about one of the concierges.  I don’t know.

I can sit here and speculate all I want, but I won’t know until I ask the appropriate parties, and until they tell me.

We have a fantastic property manager in our building; a gentleman who is on site and diligently works out of an office on the main floor of the building.  He knows many if not most of the residents by name, and has his ear to the ground on EVERY issue that arises.  He knows of things before they even happen.

I’ve never directly interacted with the board, so I can’t really comment on their capacity.

But I will give them the benefit of the doubt in this regard and simply *assume* that there was a bona-fide reason for the switch.

However, my early interractions with the new security guards, aka, “concierges,” have been anything but pleasant.

On Canada Day, I hosted a barbecue for a small group of about nine people, and they arrived intermittently between 6 – 7PM.

By the time 7PM rolled around, we were already out on my terrace with music playing, and I neglected to hear the phone ring for the buzzer downstairs.

In the lobby was my friend Dave, and his fiancee, who was on crutches and had just underwent major surgery.  Making it out to a BBQ was a major foray for her; actually, for the both of them.

They followed somebody into the lobby, and the security guard approached.  He looked at Dave , who was holding a chair and a stool for his fiancee’s leg (since it had to be raised to 90-degrees at ALL times), and asked, “May I help you?”

As Dave stood there with armloads of wares, and even a make-shift tensor bandage dangling from his shoulders, he replied, “No we’re okay; I think we can manage.  But thanks though.”

The concierge then replied, “I meant can I help you – what is your purpose here?”

Really?

Okay.

I guess.

I suppose that technically, all visitors must use the intercom and be buzzed in by residents, then sign in at the front desk.  But surely there are exceptions to the rule, no?

I mean, there are condos all across the city where concierges know our friends by name and buzz them in with a smile!  They make small talk and wish our friends on their way!

So is it unreasonable to assume that the concierge, albeit new to the post, won’t interrogate my friend as he struggles to get his fiancee up to my condo so she can rest her leg and the blood won’t clot?

Did the concierge believe that Dave had planned this whole charade in attempts to gain access to the building and steal one of the stairmasters in the exercise room?

The concierge called my cell phone FIVE times in attempts to reach me.  I was on my patio, enjoying myself on one of my first day’s off in a long, long time.

Dave called my cell twice as well, but the concierge wouldn’t let him upstairs!

FIVE TIMES!  The concierge called my cell FIVE TIMES!

Dave waited about fifteen minutes before they were finally allowed to pass the golden threshold, but none of this should have ever happened.

I know there are rules, I understand.

But you don’t get a speeding ticket for driving at 105 KM/H in a 100 zone.  Surely there are always grey areas and exceptions.

Fadi would have known my friend and might have piggy-backed his fiancee to the elevator!

But this new concierge, who was acting more like a security guard, and almost like that ass at airport security who likes to play God, was being entirely unreasonable.

I refuse to chalk this up to being “new” and instead I think that either the new security guard or the entire company are nothing more than people who are too stupid to take the police exam, and too lazy to become a mall cop.  Instead, they’ll forever interrogate condominium residents and their guests to feel alive.

Too far?

Maybe.  But I hate change.

I can only assume that this change had a purpose, and I’ll further admit that one bad experience at the onset doesn’t mean that every day in my building will be an exercise in frustration.

But I already miss Fadi, Sebastian, Patrick, and that other dude whose name I can’t remember.  He looked like a “Stephano,” or perhaps “Alberto.”

I swear – if they get rid of the little guy who vacuums the hallways each morning, I might just move…

22 Comments

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  1. Scott says:

    If someone really wants to get into a building badly enough, they will.

    Security is there to offer a presence, to deter people who don’t belong from entering the lobby or surrounding property and causing trouble. Security is not there to offer foolproof guarantees regarding the restriction of access to the building, as such an expectation is completely unrealistic in any building where a majority of residents will gladly hold the door open for the person behind them.

    This security guard failed to recognize the nuances of the position, where a presence is demanded on one hand while a friendly smile is appreciated on the other. This is not Fort Knox, it’s a condo in Old Toronto where a resident was having a BBQ and, surprise of surprises, the host couldn’t hear his cell phone.

    This security guy essentially just tried to detain an old lady from trying to bring a pair of nail clippers on an airplane. BUT NAIL CLIPPERS ARE NOT PERMITTED ON AIRPLANES!!!!!!, you might say. Yes, we know, we know.

  2. Chris says:

    @Webb:

    Yeah, i agree concierges make it more awkward to have a party. To some, this is an advantage. Of course to others, this is a disadvantage. I think the best thing is condos with walls that are well soundproofed, so those who want to be loud can, and those who want to sleep also can. Of course, everyone has their own opinion about things.

  3. thecondofitz says:

    @Mike. Really? Looks like Fadi’s judgement calls were worth every penny.

  4. 230Resident says:

    I have also lived at King’s Court for several years (although not as long as you) and I grew to love Fadi as well. He took over full-time when Sebastian got sick and I thought he did a super job. I’m a bit bullheaded like you so I’ve pre-judged the new staff and already decided that none of them can fill Fadi’s shoes. Gosh I really wish Fadi would read this and see the outpouring of appreciation for him!

  5. RPG says:

    I agree with David on this one. COMMON SENSE should ultimately prevail. I hear Mike’s argument that you don’t want somebody making minimum wage deciding on who can pass through, but in extreme cases like what David is saying, I think common sense is underrated. I don’t agree that people might to to the lengths of dressing up as a cripple in order to break into a condo. Not in this area. Not today. So I see no harm in a concierge making the obvious decision to let them inside. That decision is inevitable.

  6. Webb says:

    @Chris

    Originally my condo only had security from 3-11pm. They eventually had to add coverage overnights on weekends and are considering it during the week. Why? Noise and parties. A lot of people do not feel comfortable barging into a rocking party at 1am on a weeknight asking them to keep it down, or to stop partying in the hallway. Especially older people. That’s worth a concierge right there.

    They also police the lobbies, help out during the day to recieve packages and deliveries. I’d rather have a 24/7 concierge than a party room.

  7. Lemonade says:

    My commendations to your new concierge. He did his job, and did it well. I’d be happy to employ him in my building.

  8. lui says:

    I totally disagree with you David,he was doing his job,you may feel your king of the castle but there are hundred more owners/tenants that lives there so unless you provided direct instructions about the guest (name) he has all the rights to stop them.

  9. Kyle says:

    In NY, many residential buildings have doormen. These guys do way more than just provide “security”. They know your name, open the door, handle your deliveries and make your guests feel welcome. They don’t abide by some “rule book”, instead they use their common sense and judgement, and deliver excellent service to the resdients and their guests. And as a result of the convenience of these services, units in these buildings command higher prices and rents.

    In my opinion, i don’t see much value in paying for a guy in a uniform to stare at security monitors all day long. In fact if that was all i was getting, i’d sooner have a reduction in my maintenance fee and have no one sitting down there. If on the other hand there was someone providing incredible service AND security, then yeah, i’d be all over that. I guess it really comes down to what the residents collectively want for their maintenance fee, a security guard or a concierge or no one at all.

  10. Richard says:

    Sorry, Dave, but I have to disagree with you. Usually, I side with you, but in this instance, you are expecting too much. The new concierge was doing his job. In time, he would (hopefully) do as well as Fadi.

    If I were throwing a party, I’d be much more attentive about arriving guests. I’d make sure that the concierge could reach me. You did not think ahead, and you did not do your diligence. In other words, you were not a good host.

    Work with the concierge, not against him. Don’t presume so much on his part, especially if he’s new to the job.

    The new concierge may ultimately turn out to be an assh*le, but at this point, yours is a premature judgment.

  11. The Devil's Advocate says:

    @ Daniel

    Okay, how about the cop who nailed me a few years ago for five over on Eastern avenue? He and his buddies also nailed a whole bunch of other people for the same thing – it was an easy cash grab, because people were BREAKING THE LAW. There’s no grey area for speeding. You’re either speeding or you aren’t (unless you have a different, magical version of the Highway Traffic Act). It was a bad analogy. Actually I take it back – it was a great analogy. There’s likely no grey area for this concierge either – you admit someone without permission, and you’re fired. End of story.

  12. Dale says:

    I’ve asked a concierge about this at a building I go to very often as a friend lives there. I even have my own key to the suite. They know me by name and won’t let me up without calling first. The concierge I asked said that they have to follow the rules because if they get caught not checking, it’s their job on the line. When I asked “who would know?”, they said “the walls have eyes and ears”… to which I think they were referring to condo owners who have nothing better to do but bitch and complain about someone being let in without “clearance” first.

  13. Daniel says:

    PS

    To the girl that didn’t like your 105 KM/H argument, show me one cop who gives out speeding tickets for 105 KM/H, or 110, or 115, or 120. How about 125, that is a ‘maybe.’ 130 and you’re busted. So this isn’t so much a grey area but more like an unwritten rule, or a law not followed. I think allowing two respectable looking people into an affluent building to attend a party where 5-10 people have already been buzzed inside might be comparable.

  14. Daniel says:

    @ Anonymous

    I reccomend that you lock yourself in a padded room and don’t ever come out for fear of interacting with the outside world. “There are a lot of crazy people out there, and I wouldnâ??t be surprised if some people would go through the entire charade to do something stupid.” You sound like one of those people who always assumes the worst, and worries about every news report that says you could be dying of this or that. Seriously, if a guy shows up on Canada day and his girlfriend has a broken leg and they’re carrying hot dog buns, the concierge should help them into the elevator and NOT worry about the one in a billion chance that they’re terrorists from neptune who are here to kidnap people’s first born.

  15. Chris says:

    Isn’t it better just to not have one of these concierges? You save money on monthly condo fees, and then people can just do the normal thing and “sneak up” into the building. In that kind of building, I would just assume the common areas are really just pseudo-public areas. Sure, once in a while you get a weird person, but then the people who live at the condo can also be weird people, so I don’t really see what the difference is. I haven’t lived in a condo, but I have lived in rental apartments without concierges, and I just love it. Friends can just easily sneak up and not worry about it. Just make sure (as you probably do anyways) that the door to your particular unit is locked. But I guess this is just me.

  16. Dogbiskit says:

    Yep too far. And stop pretending you might just move – do you not remember the most difficult client you ever had?! Hmmm hmmmmm??

  17. Mike says:

    @thecondofitz you really dont want concierge who make 12 bucks an hour making judgment calls..just follow the rules

  18. thecondofitz says:

    I agree that the concierge can’t be letting everyone up, but in this case, David’s friends clearly weren’t scamming their way in. The reason we hire humans to work these jobs is for their ability to make judgment calls, this clearly being one of them. Let’s hope this new guy doesn’t feel the need to assert himself once he’s settled in.

  19. The Devil's Advocate says:

    I agree with all of Anonymous’s points. David, you even acknowledged that the new concierge tried to contact you several times (“FIVE TIMES!”), and knowing that you had more guests coming, was it really prudent to not have your phone on you? Also, that “grey” area argument is pretty flimsy – 5 km/h over the limit is breaking the law. End. Stop. It’s not a grey area – it’s just a question of whether it’s worth it to the cop to pull you over for that.

    You’re normally pretty level headed and fair in your assessments, so I’m chalking this up to a symptom of a greater displeasure with the fact that the old company was fired (with no explanation).

    1. David Fleming says:

      @ Everybody

      Agree to disagree then.

  20. LC says:

    I don’t see what’s wrong with the guard’s actions. It’s his job to do what he did. The fact that he kept calling you over and over instead of just shrugging his shoulders and removing your guests from the building shows that he was really trying. A new security company will want to follow the rules very closely especially at the start of their contract. Once they get to know everyone, they will probably be more than happy to start breaking the rules for you again.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Actually I would be happy if my concierge did that. There are a lot of crazy people out there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people would go through the entire charade to do something stupid. Rare? Probably. Does it happen? Of course.

    Unless the guy was ultra rude to your friends and was a downright ass, I think he did the right thing. Think about it from his perspective; if on the off chance that these two people really came in either destroyed things, stole something, or created a ruckus in the building and the residents knew that the concierge didn’t follow protocol, everyone would be calling for his head. To protect himself/his job (and the residents), I think he did the right thing. Perhaps he will be more lenient as he gets to know the residents and frequent visitors more.

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