The Vanguard

“Good Morning, Vanguard Chelsea, Cian speaking.”

It is 1:30 AM on another typical night shift in the Vanguard; quiet for the most part with the odd noise complaint, or someone asking to be let back into the laundry room because they just had to finish their delicates at midnight. The odd homeless person stumbles by the doors and I can feel them staring at me out of the corner of my eye. They give little trouble and can be moved on with a dollar or a threat of a phonecall to the police. Drunk residents may come back later and chat about their night for a while, keeping me awake at least. The New York Times delivery guy will stop by at around 3 in the morning to drop off papers for the residents. The Wall Street Journal lady will stop by around 5 to do the same. After my break at around 4, I’ll step outside, have a cigarette and get a coffee, three hard boiled eggs and a butter roll. It has been the same routine for about a year and a half now and it’s not too bad. My sleep schedule is all over the place but sure look, it’s quiet work.
The building comes alive again at around 6 AM. Certain residents leave much earlier then others but it is usually this time of the morning that people leave to go to the gym, others leave for work, personal trainers arrive for other residents and me and the porter on duty start to realise that we’ll soon be free of work for another day.
This happens every Monday and Tuesday night and today is no different, with one slight exception. This is my last night shift as a concierge at the Vanguard Chelsea.

Your last day at any job can be bittersweet. You are happy to be leaving and hopefully moving on to bigger and better things but a part of you is sad that you won’t see some of the people every day. I am personally delighted to be finishing and getting on with things but I will miss a lot of people that I’ve worked with, along with many residents of the building.

I’m going to miss the guys at the front desk, my brothers in arms. It’s obviously not that serious, but we have each others’ backs. Recently, there was a big shift in management and we were without a super for the last four months. At the front desk, we didn’t care. We knew we had it down and if there were any problems then we would sort it out ourselves.
I’m going to miss Freddy the porter. We’ve worked many a night shift together and shared laughs about the other handymen or porters and their quirks. Plus, he is big into his football, so we had a lovely time watching me slide into a mental breakdown over Mourinho the last six or seven months.

I’m going to miss the guy in the coffee cart who sells me my eggs and coffee on the night shift. I don’t know his name and he doesn’t know mine. We call each other ‘brother’, or ‘boss’, and we are the best of friends. He doesn’t know a thing about my life and I don’t know a thing about his. That is why he was the best man at my wedding.

As soon as I started the job the resident manager informed me that it was fine to be friendly with the residents but you could in no way be actual friends with them. He claimed that it would work against you as some residents may take advantage of you for your kindness and friendship. I quickly saw what he was talking about with some people so I steered clear of them. But, I would say that I was on very good terms with a lot of the residents. I would go as far to say I made a few friends who lived in the building. If not friends, then acquaintances for the future whenever I may return.

Billy and Debbie on the 23rd floor are a fantastic couple. Every evening, Billy and I would talk about what was new on Netflix, Hulu and the like. When we found out that we watched the same sort of stuff, we had to figure out what Debbie could watch with him as she wasn’t fond of gory and dark television! They’re getting married in the near future and I’m delighted for them.
Randy, TIffany and baby Zoe moved out recently but they were a delight. Tiffany and Zoe were constantly happy and Randy was like one of the lads. We’d constantly be slagging each other off, although he had an advantage as I couldn’t keep shouting after him when delivery guys were waiting for me to do my job.
Christine on the 16th floor is hilarious and provided me with company and laughs on dreary Sunday afternoons as I wished I was anywhere else. We’d talk crap about whatever carer she had with her at the time and give out about how slow tourists walk around the city. I know she reads this blog from time to time so Christine, if you see this….BUY A PRINTER AND STOP USING OUR PAPER!!! Jokes, jokes.

There are many other residents who I’ve bonded with over Game of Thrones, theatre, football and most importantly, drinking. I know I won’t miss the crazier, more pedantic residents but I’ll look back on my time here fondly. I made some money, some memories and learned a lot about myself. I came to New York to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and this building and the night shifts gave me the time to do that. If I wanted, I could stay here and become a resident manager and live in New York for the rest of my life, and maybe that’ll happen because who knows what will happen, but I doubt it. I’ve done the job and am happy that I’m finishing, but I will forever hold the Vanguard dearly in my heart.

Angela’s Christmas

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This 30-minute wonder of a film is on U.S. Netflix and is perfect for small kids, parents (the 1st time), and people who work the night shift. Now, if you’re not a kid, not my cousin Bridget who has been forced to watch it hundreds of times by her two-year old, or me on the nightshift, maybe you won’t want to give it a chance. But I promise you, it is only half an hour and a nice story with only a small dash of sadness and death. Just like any other Irish film!

Angela’s Christmas, based on the novel ‘Angela and the Baby Jesus’, by Frank McCourt, is a beautiful little tale about Angela, of course, and the adventure she gets up to on Christmas Eve night.
Angela, her two brothers, younger sister and mother are heading to Christmas Eve mass, and Angela is holding them up while getting ready. Her older brother Patrick is complaining about her and incessantly whinging. Straight away, we see that Patrick is suffering from middle-child syndrome and just unlikeable. Ugh, I wanted to punch the screen. Feck off Patrick, the movie’s called Angela’s Christmas, not Patrick’s Day.
On the way to the church Patrick and Angela bicker back and forth, with Patrick maintaining his annoying personality. After finally sitting down, Angela realises that the baby Jesus in the manger does not have a blanket or a jacket on. Being five, she doesn’t realise that he is a statue and he therefore cannot feel the cold. She formulates a plan, and when her family leave mass to return home, she steals the baby Jesus so she can keep him warm.
On her own way home, Angela bumps into a blind, one-legged beggar, a kind policeman and a bar full of elderly drunks. Once in the door, she tucks the baba into bed and sings ‘Angela’s Song’, a lovely little lullaby. Unfortunately, Patrick the prized pr*ck rats her out, and she fears she may be in trouble. Thankfully, her mother, instead of getting annoyed and punishing Angela, tells the story of Angela’s birth, and how important it is to be together as a family at Christmas. Angela, apparently being able to understand subtext at 5 years old, knows she must bring the baby Jesus back to the manger.

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The whole family set off to return the statue, the world not seeming so scary for Angela on her own anymore. Despite returning 8 pound 6 oz, newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, but still omnipotent, baby Jesus, the family are caught by the priest. He calls a guard over to throw the thief in jail but, lo and behold, it is the same guard from earlier! He shows more kindness and lets them free to be together on Christmas Eve.

A truly heartwarming tale, I was shocked to find out that some people wrote to me and said that there is a popular fan theory that Angela, in her quest to first steal the baby Jesus, hits her head on her fall from the pew. The rest of the movie is actually in Angela’s head as she survives in the hospital. I would just like to say that that is not true and those people should never, ever contact me again. Freaks. No better than Patrick in the movie. Although he had a sweet redemption arc.
Dolores O’Riordan sings Angela’s Song during the credits and it is worth it for that alone, seeing as it is almost a year since she sadly died.

Catch this flick on Netflix or get it on cheap blu-ray at the flea markets in Chelsea.