Carlos Pellecier is a grateful man.
He’s grateful for his tenants: “I love my tenants. It’s a joy to go to work. I try to make their day, because, in a roundabout way, they make mine.” He’s grateful to his union, SEIU 32BJ, “because without them I wouldn’t have a job, a pension and security for my family.” And he’s grateful for his work: “I know so many people who are actually out of work. By the Grace of God, I can get up and go to work.”
In 2005, however, he was forced to stay home, for the first time in more than 20 years, from his doorman job at 1380 Riverside Drive to deal with a ruptured disc and to heal from neck surgery. “I willed my body back to work in six months,” he said in a phone interview. “You know, pain is relative. If you’ve been around people who have cancer, and I have, or soldiers who’ve lost limbs… I can’t really complain.”
Pellecier, 48, is married and has four children and three grandchildren. He grew up in Amsterdam Houses near Lincoln Center where his mother is currently president of the tenants’ association. He credits his mother with passing along her passion for helping others. “She is always caring and going the extra mile,” he said. “She’s a community activist.”
According to the tenants of 1380 Riverside, where Pellecier has now been a doorman for 27 years, he does an excellent job of anticipating their needs, especially when they are in distress. In 2004 he came to the rescue of tenant David Braverman, who had made his way down to the door after suffering a stroke. Braverman said his speech was affected, so he tried to write a message on paper, saying he needed a cab to go to the hospital. Pellecier instead called an ambulance.
“He’s really consistent,” said tenant Gina Hartwig, who remembered the morning she was running late to a funeral and couldn’t find a parking space. “The minute I came down, he knew something was wrong.” “Take my spot,” he said, immediately moving his own car.
One of the biggest challenges he faces in his work is soothing the anxious tenant when things don’t go according to plan or an emergency arises. “If they need something done and it didn’t get done, I’ll go out of my way to see that it gets done. I’ll take messages, hold their keys-if you leave something with me, more than likely it’s gonna get done.”
He was on duty three years ago when the earth rumbled, and the retaining wall at the adjacent Castle Village collapsed onto the West Side highway, spilling millions of cubic feet of dirt. About 250 residents were evacuated from his building after cracks were found in the façade. Tenants said he was informative and helpful in uniting residents with their pets and medications.
“Whatever I can do, I look forward to helping my tenants,” Pellecier said. “I know if I’m good to them, they’re going to go out and be smiling at someone else.”
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