There are many advantages to living at 1120 Park Avenue-the building’s classy Carnegie Hill location, a gleaming marble lobby, luxurious apartments worth millions-but none of these assets seem to be as treasured by residents as a blue-eyed, white-haired Irishman named Jimmy Gibbons.
For the past 20 years, Gibbons has stood by the door in his navy uniform to welcome those who live here and their visitors. He has signed for their packages and carried their bags.
He has hailed them cabs and found them parking. And he has always, always done it with a smile.
Residents and co-workers feel so strongly about Gibbons, they threw him a welcome-back party when he returned from medical leave last year, recalled his boss, superintendent James Rauscher. “There’s not a single tenant in this building who dislikes Jimmy, and he’s loved by the staff,” Rauscher said. “He’s such a pleasure to work with. He’s conscientious and so unbelievably charming it’s not even funny anymore. There isn’t a finer man in all of New York.”
Deborah Geltman, who has lived in the building for 30 years, called Gibbons the “quintessential doorman,” a true gentleman with a deep sense of decorum. “The thing about him is that he has respect for his job, so people have respect for him,” Geltman explained. “There are lots of tenants who expect a high level of service, and in all my years on the board I have never heard a single complaint about Jimmy.”
Born and raised in Ireland, Gibbons came to New York in 1959 with barely two quarters in his pocket. Three years later, he married. His wife, Margaret, had grown up in the neighboring county, but they didn’t meet until he spotted her at Jaeger House, one of the many dance halls popular with Irish immigrants, just a few blocks from where he works today.
Gibbons starts his workdays at 4 a.m. with a breakfast of hot porridge at his house in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., just north of the city. All of his five children live close-by, so every morning he picks up his oldest daughter, a nurse, and drives her to work on the Upper East Side. His own shift begins at 7 a.m. and getting there in the morning is his favorite part of the job, Gibbons said.
“I love talking to people, I’m a yapper,” he explained in his thick Irish brogue. “I set them off in a good mood, and that’s important.”
When he’s not working, Gibbons likes to garden, a reminder of his farm-boy childhood. But he’s not ready to hang up his cap and pick up the rake for good.
“I love to work. Even on my days off I miss it. When I take two weeks’ vacation, it’s so long I can’t wait to go back,” he said. “I’m not thinking about retirement. I would like to put in at least another five years.”
Good news for everyone at 1120 Park.
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