Juan Cruz knows the name of almost every person who lives in his 134-unit building in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.
“I was just talking to one of the new tenants,” Cruz said recently. “He said, ‘How can you know everybody’s name?’ And, I just do.”
One resident said that of the four doormen in the building, “Juan is the ‘talk of the town.’” “He always asks you how your day was and wishes you good night or good morning…He is awesome.”
This month marks Cruz’s 10th anniversary as a doorman of the apartment building at 1818 Newkirk Ave. At 53-years-old, this is the only doorman job Cruz has held, and he said he enjoys it immensely for many reasons. Best of all, though, are all the faces he sees.
“I get to know people,” he said in between greeting tenants returning home. “There are a lot of people who have just moved in the building who are in the TV industry and music business. I ask them questions and learn from them.”
The music business especially interests Cruz: in his spare time he sings back-up with Angelo Y Su Conjunto Modelo, a Latin band. Since his childhood Cruz has contributed to Latin music like salsa by playing the maracas and the güiro, a percussion instrument you play by rubbing a wooden stick along notches carved in a gourd.
Conveniently living a block away from his job, Cruz is a native Brooklynite and has been in the neighborhood for 31 years. His large family consists of seven children, ages 38 to 28, and his wife, Jacqueline.
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