more ups than downs

24 Oct 2018 | 04:39

Rene Richard

Elevator operator

Even after more than four decades on the job, Rene Richard keeps looking forward


Rene Richard grew up in Haiti with ambitions of becoming an engineer, but never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he would work more than four decades in Manhattan’s Garment District.

Richard, 67, moved to America in 1974 and quickly found his first job as a deliveryman. One day while working, a man asked him to fill in for someone who had called out sick. That particular gig turned into 42 years of working at 225 West 37th St.

“I’m the last of the Mohicans,” he said. “Not too many people could say they have done a job for 42 years.”

His first day of work was June 7, 1976. He has worked the front desk, been the night man and now operates the freight elevators.

Richard has seen the ups and downs in the building. He witnessed sadness and emptiness during the recession, when many people lost their jobs, but has also seen people stay for many years and gotten to know them.

More importantly, he has become friends with all types of people in the building. He’s attended their weddings, their kids’ graduations, Sweet 16s and bar and bat and bar mitzvahs.

“It’s like family here,” he said.

Richard originally lived in the city, but about 20 years ago moved to quiet Harriman in upstate New York. He felt it was a good place for he and his wife, Gladys, to raise their kids, Jerry, 33, and Tanya, 24. Besides the nonstop snow in the winter, he loves the relaxing suburban atmosphere.

While the commute is 90 minutes, after a few weeks he got used to it.

In his free time, Richard enjoys being with his family. With retirement on the horizon, he knows he will miss his job, but having the opportunity to spend time with his kids and wife make it all worth it.

He knows he has worked his behind off for more than four decades and soon he can reap in the rewards.

“I will miss the people, but we can’t work forever,” he remarked. “When I came somebody gave me a chance. Now I have to give the young guy a chance too.”