Thanks for picking me up off the floor.
December 9, 2008 5:09 PM   Subscribe

How to say "thanks" for taking care of me when I was drunk?

I was very much beyond my limits after my company's holiday party on Friday evening. A friend got me into a cab and on my way home, however, she didn't realize how drunk I was.

I ended up throwing up in the hallway outside my door (I live in an upscale condo building in a major downtown area) and passing out. Some of my neighbors found me in the hallway and called the doorman to determine what to do. They waited with me until the doorman came up. The doorman decided to call 911 and have me taken to the hospital because I was unconscious. I was released a few hours later (just needed to sleep it off I guess!).

I would like to thank my neighbors and my doorman for taking care of me while I was drunk. I don't know either party very well as I recently moved into the building and the doorman is a fill-in. I do have the doorman and the neighbor's names from the duty log. My brother got the story above from the same doorman, who was on duty when he brought me home from the hospital.

What should I give my neighbors? Would a $50 gift card to a restaurant be nice? And my doorman - is cash too impersonal? If not, how much? Is $100 too much? I believe, but I am not sure, that he also cleaned up the hallway. That alone I think is worth a million dollars!

Thanks for any help!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In addition to thanking them, you should also apologize. You did puke everywhere and make the doorman's evening a major pain in the ass, and I'm sure your neighbors had other things planned.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:20 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

Cash is never too impersonal for a doorman, and 100 isn't too much for someone who might've saved your life if the situation had been more dire.
posted by rikschell at 5:21 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Before you offer other gifts, I'd write a note to your neighbors and a note to the doorman apologizing sincerely for what happened, reassuring them that it's not how you usually behave (especially since you're new to the building), and thanking them for helping you out.

Doormen in condo buildings usually get cash gifts/tips at the end of the year, so no, I don't think cash is too impersonal. For your neighbors, anything that signals generous intent should work. A high-quality food gift that they can regift if they don't eat it is also usually welcome. Just don't give them a bottle of wine.
posted by jeeves at 5:25 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

i think those ideas are just right. cash is not a crass gift if you enclose it in a handwritten note o thanks and apology. maybe toss in a nice bouquet of flowers for the neighbors, likewise with the handwritten note of thanks and apology.

Dear neighbor/doorman,

I am very grateful for your attention on the evening of [date] and I am truly sorry to have caused such disturbance. This was very out of character for me and a great source of embarrassment. I can assure you this will never happen again, and I hope that you will accept this gift as compensation for your trouble.

Thank you,

and for god's sake DON'T let it happen again!
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:30 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Dear Friends,

Last Friday I realized just how important each and every one of you are, in your own way, to my life. I pushed myself beyond my limits, and had it not been for your kindness and generosity during my time of need, I have no doubt that I would have been in ultimately worse shape at the end of the night. I want you all to know that I appreciate the community in this condo, and if any of you were upset or inconvenienced by my state last weekend, I apologize. Please accept this small token of gratitude on my part, and know that while I am saddened by how awfully out of character I became last week, I am at the same time touched that you all cared enough to make sure that I was given the proper medical care that I needed. Along with this gift I would like to open my home to you for dinner or tea if you ever find yourself in need of a hot cooked meal and good conversation. And I promise this time I will have my wits about me when we meet again.

Passed Out At 3am

(I've been in a similar situation, long long ago.)
posted by aloneinvietnam at 5:32 PM on December 9, 2008

Sample letter if you want to be a little more casual:

"Dear A (and B, and C, and Doorman)
I'm so embarrassed about what happened last weekend. It was my company's holiday party and obviously I overdid it, by which I mean I drank my face off and made a big mess. Ugh. That was utterly out of character for me and I really don't know how to express how awkward I feel about it, or how grateful I am for your kindness. Thank you so, so much for taking care of me and cleaning up. I really appreciated it, and I promise never to require it again!
To express my appreciation, I hope you'll accept this [edible gift- maybe nice chocolates or something], with my sincere apology and thanks.
Also, I'm hosting a little get-together on Jan 6, and I'd be so happy if you could come by. And I promise if you get loaded, I'll hold your hair- I think I owe you one! : )
Thank you again- despite my mortification, I was really touched by your kindness and I'd love to get to know you better under different circumstances.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:53 PM on December 9, 2008

Bah. The false humility in these suggested notes reeks worse than the puke did.

Apologize in person. Look each person in the eye, thank them, shake their hand, and apologize. Then buy them some small thank-you gift. Don't include a note. A note says, "Oh, this is the note from that drunk!" A gift says, "This is a thoughtful doodad from our neighbor." You want to put the incident behind you (and them), not serve up a reminder of it.

Apologize in person to the doorman, and slide him AT LEAST a hundred bucks, more if he's the one that cleaned up your spew.

And next time don't chase beer with whiskey.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:54 PM on December 9, 2008 [15 favorites]

Personally I'd much rather get a note before a face-to-face. It breaks the ice to prove you're not a nutbar, so when you see them face-to-face you can mention the note instead of the barf.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:59 PM on December 9, 2008

jeeves is right on. i think you need a combo of jeeves' idea and bitteroldpunks': write an apology / thank you note, enclose cash for the doorman and present it to him, apologizing at the same time. do the same for your neighbors and include in the envelope a gift card for a nice restaurant, a nice grocery store, or starbucks or something. if i were them, i would appreciate both gestures: the humility of a face-to-face apology in combination with a thoughtful gift.
posted by cachondeo45 at 6:01 PM on December 9, 2008

Please Please don't give them money. Please. There is no sense in doing that. If you were my neighbor and I found you passed out, and I helped you, money would make things very weird. Let me say that differently: throwing money at neighbors who help you out when you're shitfaced is weird. Same goes for doormen. And while we're at it, same goes for giving random presents.

Go talk to them if you feel bad.
posted by pwally at 6:10 PM on December 9, 2008

Apologize in person so your heartfelt note doesn't end up on eBay when you're appointed to Congress.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:16 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Come on, it's not false humility if he/she really means it, is it? I assume they are truly sorry, right? Why is that stinky?
posted by aloneinvietnam at 6:21 PM on December 9, 2008

I don't agree with pwally at all - it's a gesture of thanks. It's now 'throwing money' at them - it's a gift, and one that comes with a very good reason. Disguising the cash as a gift card to a large store might be nice. And a little note of thanks.
posted by ORthey at 6:26 PM on December 9, 2008

Yeah, I am gonna go ahead and say no money. Maybe you tip the doorman at Christmas, but not because of this. A few years ago, a friend got really drunk at my house, made a bit of an ass of himself (it really wasn't all that bad), left in a huff and slept it off at another friend's house. He showed up at my house, sheepishly, the next day with a 100 gift certificate to one of the nicest restaurants in town as a form of apology. It set my teeth on edge, since I don't think it is in good taste to apologize with money. He was also sincerely apologetic, but that would have been enough. The gift certificate was over the top, I don't think you should do that.
posted by msali at 6:33 PM on December 9, 2008

If the doorman cleaned up your puke, that's worth $250.

Keep the note simple and humble. No cutesy touches like "ugh." The shorter and more abject the apology, the more sincere it will seem. Here's what I would suggest:

Dear [Doorman]:

I am writing to apologize for my extremely inappropriate drunkenness on [date]. I am very embarrassed that I put you in a position to have to deal with my condition that night, and I sincerely thank you for taking care of me and cleaning up after me. This was out of character for me, and I assure you that it will not happen again. Please accept the enclosed as a token of my thanks and for the inconvenience I put you through.


posted by jayder at 6:39 PM on December 9, 2008 [5 favorites]

Apologize in person to your neighbors, they did you a kindness, don't give them anything, look out for the chance to help them out in a natural way, if you live there long enough it will come up.

If the doorman was a fill in then go to the super (he knows what happened to you, btw) and say you want to thank the dude and how can you get in touch, then do so, hand him a small envelope with 100 to 200 (200!) in crisp twenties in it. Say something like "Hey, thanks for looking out for me, I was a mess, I owe you one."

Now, I'm a former doorman and as such someone who is acutely aware of class distinctions, but I assure you that doormen are providing a service that involves discretion and picking up after people that make a mess of themselves, either socially or physically, generally it's an ok job, but next to food service it's often the best opportunity to see human beings at their worst and generally keep it to yourself, because you are a human being as well, thus: When you puke in the hall and the dude makes sure you get to the hospital after you are ass-out on the floor and non-responsive, then you can lay a big tip on him with the understanding that you are compensating him for his trouble on that particular night. If you want to really be classy then go and thank him and go back to him the week before Christmas with the tip, but if he's a fill in then he might not be there, so break him off something now.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:41 PM on December 9, 2008

It set my teeth on edge, since I don't think it is in good taste to apologize with money.

In this context, it's compensation for putting the doorman through something disgusting and beyond the call of duty, that one should not have to deal with from mature, civilized adults.

Keep in mind, anonymous did something pretty bad here, and it's classy to compensate the poor guy who had to clean up the mess.

He doesn't know the doorman; the doorman doesn't give a shit about him; sincere apology, while it might make anonymous feel better, won't mean a damn thing to the doorman. Cash will. Cash is a way of putting your money where your mouth is.
posted by jayder at 6:45 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Frankly, most of the people I have helped out when they've had a bit too much never apologized, thanked me, etc. In fact, a few held resentment for a while due to my hiding their keys, etc. I say keep it simple and sincere with the neighbors. Cash for the doorman - possibly split your offering to him between cash and a gift card to a very nice restaurant (enough to cover dinner for two). Should you ever find yourself in a less-than-fortunate situation of any kind, you need that man on your side. Snub him now and he'll be telling your story to others. Reward him appropriately and you've got an ally.
posted by skypieces at 7:31 PM on December 9, 2008

If you are going to give him anything, give him cash, no one who accepts tips regularly is anything but inconvenienced by a gift certificate.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:36 PM on December 9, 2008

Cash tip doorman, and send a thank you note to the neighbors.
posted by xammerboy at 7:39 PM on December 9, 2008

been there, no biggie. you do owe an apologie but here's how to do it in style.

don't do cash right now. you need to buy every person some nice chocolate and write a "I usually don't drink and things got out of hand. thank you very much for being so nice about it" card. nobody can hold a grudge against you then, especially if good chocolate is involved. it's the prime greaser for neighborhood relations. handwrite the cards. I guarantee you will go from "that imposible person" to "that wonderful young person" in twenty seconds flat. remember they don't expect to get anything from you. (it's okay to hang these items on their doors if you don't want to face them.) do not forget the cards! they will be a token for them to keep and show around. you're working on your reputation here.

the doorman gets cash for xmas. yes, make it $50. make sure he gets it and not the other doormen. (they should get some smaller amount from you so they don't feel left out but he helped you and he needs to be taken care of.)

kudos for asking. I know too many people who would have just moved on.
posted by krautland at 7:40 PM on December 9, 2008

just to be perfectly clear: card and chocolate for neighbors and doorman now, cash for doorman as a second 'thank you' come holidays (it's custom in cities like nyc anyway).
posted by krautland at 7:42 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think a thank-you note apologizing for the inconvenience to your neighbors, maybe paired with some cookies or muffins, would be nice and a thank you & apology to the doorman accompanied by some cash($100 seems in the right range) is the best way to show your appreciation. Both these gestures will go a long way to building a good relationship with these folks in your building, and good on you for wanting to do something to thank them. It's the right thing to do, but a lot of people would sheepishly ignore it thinking that makes the incident go away, which it sadly, does not.
posted by katemcd at 7:45 PM on December 9, 2008

I'm a concierge at an upscale condominium building. Let me assure you, cash is perfectly appropriate! A gift certificate for the neighbors sounds lovely, too. A handwritten card accompanying these gifts and expressing your thanks also sounds like a lovely idea. It makes a big difference to have someone say "Thank you."

I would consider $50 to be an appropriate amount, maybe even a bit much, for the doorman--if he didn't clean up your vomit. If he did, I'd consider something around the $60 to $80 range. That is not a pleasant task, and clear example of him going above and beyond. I know in my building if you vomited in the hallway and didn't clean it up it could quite possibly result in a significant (like $200) fine from the HOA. I wouldn't let the fact that he is a fill-in stop you--if anything, I find that the most impressive part of this. Temporary staff, weekend staff, fill-in staff, all tend to have less of a stake in the building. They also tend to be paid less. If one of my staff members took care of a situation like this as well as this guy did, I would buy him a gift-card myself!

Another thing to keep in mind--our weekend / holiday staff are contracted through a security company. When this company hears glowing feedback about a guard, they frequently give him a bonus or other perks themselves. So if it's a company other than your building's HOA who employs this doorman, consider thanking the doorman and passing this on to his employer. If your HOA does employ him directly, make sure the building manager knows how much you appreciate the doorman's actions. Praising him to his superiors may well be worth more than $50 to him in the long run.
posted by kprincehouse at 9:17 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

Reading the comments from others, I'd keep any note short. The best I've seen above was, "Hey, thanks for looking out for me, I was a mess, I owe you one." It doesn't have to be longer than that. Anything in addition can be done in person. There's no need to write a novel or be too formal.

Thinking about it more, too, I might err on the side of flowers for the neighbors over a gift card, too.
posted by kprincehouse at 9:29 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm with the folks advising person-to-person gratitude/apologies. It's one thing for someone to remember you puking everywhere, quite another to have a written confession of your sophomoric stupidities out there in the world.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:10 AM on December 10, 2008

For the neighbours, a gift. Not a gift card, or really anything with a number on it that can be construed as paying them for being good neighbours. Food is good, booze, in this rare instance, is not.

For the doorman, cash. He's at work, in a tippable field, and you made his job a whole hell of a lot harder. Cash is appropriate because of the tipping thing, and lots of it, because cleaning up your vomit is way outside what he should have to deal with. $100 sounds about right. If you would also tip the doormen in your building around the holidays, please don't neglect to give him a separate tip for that.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:47 AM on December 10, 2008

Giving your neighbours money seems weird. Maybe flowers and an apology would work better. Or something along those lines.

As for the doorman, it's a field where you do tip people, so money or a giftcard or something like that might be nice.
posted by chunking express at 1:40 PM on December 10, 2008

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