That Little Extra Spark

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Eugene Amankwah is in love—and he doesn’t mind telling you. The doorman has fallen for the tenants of the Upper building where he’s worked for the last five years. And it seems the feelings are mutual.

“People just like him,” said Lisa Butcher, 34, a university administrator who has lived at 372 Central Park West since 2002. “It’s not that the other doormen aren’t that way—they’re wonderful—but Eugene just has that little extra spark.”

Eugene Amankwah has such a good relationship with tenants that they offer to bring him tea when he’s sick. Photo by Karl Crutchfield

Eugene Amankwah has such a good relationship with tenants that they offer to bring him tea when he’s sick. Photo by Karl Crutchfield

The appreciation is not lost on Amankwah, 30, of Inwood, Manhattan.

“I’ve never felt so much love,” he said. “They’re the most down-to-earth people. They’re considerate and really care about you. When I have been sick they bring me down tea and when they go to the store they offer to buy me things.”

Born and raised in Washington Heights to immigrant parents from Ghana, Amankwah admits the plush block is far removed from the poverty he grew up around. But he still feels at home with residents.

“People here are the true genuine article. It’s really awesome. They’re like an extended family,” he said. “Their financial status is different from mine and in other buildings people can be snooty and look down at you, but not here.”

Amankwah first began working at the Central Park West address temporarily during vacations from studying at college in Atlanta. When financial difficulties prevented him from finishing the course, he returned to New York to look for a permanent job. He initially worked as a porter but learned about the permanent doorman position from a friend who worked for the building’s owners. Amankwah has not looked back since.

“The interaction really is the thing I enjoy most,” he said. “But I really got lucky. I worked in another building and the dynamics of people there were different.”

A couple living in his current building invited Amankwah to his first Jewish wedding recently.

“It was the most awesome wedding I’ve been to,” he said.

The same pair recently celebrated the birth of their first child, and he hopes to be around long enough to see her grow up. In fact, Amankwah is so happy in the job he has no plans to move on.

“During these financial times, I’m just glad to have a job I enjoy,” he said.

Graduate student Andrew McCurtis, 23, has lived in the building all his life with his parents.

“The whole family knows him—even my dog recognizes Eugene,” he said. McCurtis thinks small things make Amankwah such a great doorman.

“He knows everyone’s names. As soon as you come down in the elevator the door’s open. If I don’t know someone in the building he’ll introduce me. He’s able to break the ice,” he said.

McCurtis returns the favor by getting the doorman food or drinks if he’s going to the store. He added that Amankwah has the ability to make everyone he talks to feel comfortable—a vital element in any relationship.

“I’ve known him for five years and he’s not just a doorman now,” McCurtis said. “He’s a good friend too.”

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