STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's Friday morning, which means it's time again for StoryCorps, the project that records Americans talking about their lives, and talking with each other about their lives. Today, we have a story made possible by a New York City landmark, the Plaza Hotel. It's near Central Park. It first opened its door 100 years ago this week.
For 45 of those years, Ed Trinka has greeted hotel guests and passersby, which is how Deborah Goodman met him. They struck up a friendship as she walked to work each day. And she brought Ed to StoryCorps to talk about his work.
Ms. DEBORAH GOODMAN (Resident, New York): How did you get the job as doorman at the Plaza Hotel?
Mr. ED TRINKA (Former Doorman, Plaza Hotel): Well, father was a garage manager at the Plaza for 30 years, and he was friends with all the doormen. And when I graduated from high school, he said there's a nice job for you over there. Just go over and talk to somebody. One of the doormen was sick, and they put the hat and coat on me, which fit very well, and they put me on the door right away. And I got outside and started working. That was my first job, and it was great.
Ms. GOODMAN: What was the best tip you ever got?
Mr. TRINKA: Well, I always tell the story about Jackie Gleason. For Christmastime, he says to me, what was the biggest tip you ever got? And I says, well, $100. And he says here is $150 and merry Christmas. He says, by the way, who was the one that gave you the hundred. I said, well, that was you last year.
Ms. GOODMAN: Now, I got to know you because I walk to work every morning, and then I cut by the Plaza and I see you and you made my day because you say good morning, young lady. Beautiful day.
Mr. TRINKA: No. That's what it's all about. Being in front there and smiling and just making everybody happy, and that's the whole thing of it. You know, anybody that comes in there is a VIP. And when they tell me, you know, treat 'em like VIP, I say, I already do.
Had a guest that come in one morning, 6:30 in the morning, and he had to go to a very important meeting, and he asked me where he could get his shoes shined. And I says, it don't open until eight o'clock, our barber shop. So I says, I tell you what, give me the shoes and you come back in a half an hour and I'll have 'em done. I ran down to my locker, got my shoeshine kit - which I have in my locker to shine my shoes - shined 'em up for him, come back up, he come by, put his shoes on, got to the meeting and he's one of my best friends. Matter of fact, he comes back to the plaza all the time.
You know, my father told me years ago, he said, be such a man and live such a life that if everybody lived a life like you, this would be God's paradise, and I go by that.
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INSKEEP: Ed Trinka with Deborah Goodman at StoryCorps in New York City. This and all StoryCorps interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. And you can subscribe to the StoryCorps Podcast simply by going to npr.org.