Have you ever noticed that porters are some of the most informed people around? They watch people as a profession, they get to know each individual in the building: their hobbies, friends and their schedules. I never realised how much my porters knew about me until I forgot my keys one Sunday and had to sit in the lobby for a couple of hours waiting for my cousins to get back.
“Weather isn’t great today, ay?”
We spoke for a while but it didn’t take him very long to interrogate me for my opinions and beliefs regarding many sociopolitical issues at the time. It made me admire his courage, his ability to to ask questions that most people would refrain from in a first conversation with an acquaintance. (It didn’t take many conversations with porters for me to realise that their straightforwardness when it came to asking some otherwise uncomfortable questions wasn’t a matter of courage and bravery but a matter of familiarisation. Though I didn’t think of the porters at my building as anything more than acquaintances before hand; they knew more about me than most of my friends. The porter wasn’t being blunt or brave as I had previously suspected- he was being a friend. You know how you start a conversation with your friends about something as mundane as lip balm brands and the next thing you know, you’re having a debate about institutional racism and police brutality?)-
No? You, my friend, NEED new friends.
– This was basically how my first real conversation with my porter evolved.
In true British fashion it all started with a conversation about how dreadful the wintertime weather is.