My project was to act as a doorman at an establishment that would not typically have a doorman. This concept came to me when my parents came up to Boston for Thanksgiving. They were staying in a fancy hotel, and regardless of the weather, there was a doorman standing outside. In my mind I couldn’t get over the strangeness of it. In my everyday life doormen are not a thing, and the formality of it was shocking to me.
For this assignment I stood in front of a CVS, in a full suit, for around 45 minutes holding the door open for everyone who came by, and greeting them kindly. I was unable to take pictures because I felt it would detract from the natural responses of people as they came by. I did however take notes in a small booklet. The quotes aren’t 100% accurate because I didn’t start writing until after the person had gone inside.
11:00 – I arrive and start standing in front of the CVS.
11:02 – The people working inside the CVS give me weird looks, but don’t come out to talk to me.
11:02 – First customer comes up, a man mid 30’s. He gives me an odd look, says “Thanks,” and shuffles inside.
11:05 – Man enters, ignores me.
11:14 – Man on phone walks in, gives me the stink eye.
11:16 – Women leaves the CVS, smiles at me and says “Have a nice day.”
11:22 – Older man, probably in his 70’s, comes up to me. Says I’m looking “dapper.” He asks me why I’m doing this, and I explain to him. He says it’s a wonderful idea. Asks me if I want anything from the store. I say sure. During this time 3 people left, and 2 went in.
11:31 – Man leaves, says “Thanks.”
11:33 – Women leaves, says “You too” when I say have a nice day.
11:37 – Nice older man comes out with a bag of chips. I thank him kindly, and he tells me to have a “Wonderful day.”
11:42 – Man enters, ignores me.
11:42 – Man leaves, looks at me and keeps walking.
11:46 – See cashiers talking about me again.
11:50 – Get bored and leave.
I found this experience to be quite a dull one actually. I expected to get more interaction, and acknowledgment. Now that I think about it though I can’t remember really acknowledging the doorman either, at least not verbally with them. I was very happy with the interaction I had with the nice older gentleman. His conversation made the whole task worth it. He was so pleasant and warm, I wish I had asked him his name, I wouldn’t mind chatting with him again.
The inspiration for this project came from when my parents came to Boston for thanksgiving (as stated above), but I was also heavily inspired by Improv Everywhere’s No Pants Subway Ride. I was really interested in the contradictory formality. When you ride a subway in New York City (particularly during rush hour) you see lots of well dressed business men. I love the idea of having them juxtaposed with pants less people. My project was very similar in terms of the contradicting formality, only the roles were reversed.
If I was to do this Intervention again, I think I would degrade the location even further, say a gas station, and would also try to act more professional (not that I think I wasn’t professional enough, but I really want to accentuate the formality differences). I may also try it with an official doorman uniform.