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a doorman who knows everyone's name

by lydie raschka

one day, carol giordano struggled against a robust wind.

"i'm disabled," she said. "i walk with a cane. i had papers in my hand. of course they flew everywhere."

enter louis rios, 59, doorman since 1974, and all-around good samaritan.

"there he was," said giordano. "running after the papers. i didn't expect it. it was so kind."

rios works in a prestigious commercial building, at 733 third avenue at 46th street, owned by the durst organization that houses the national multiple sclerosis society, as well as un world food, rodale press and, at one time, the offices of daniel patrick moynihan, the late u.s. senator from new york.

he calls every entrant by name, even those who pass through his doors just once a week.

"there are hundreds of us in this building," marveled jennie powers, vice president of special events for the multiple sclerosis group. "louis is the first person people meet when they arrive. he's the front of the house for us. his face is in my head. he is always so present."

as "front of the house," rios serves as watchman, good-natured nudge and confessor. he holds the elevator car for those in wheelchairs, or using canes or walkers.

"he asks what you are having for lunch," said powers, "and reminds you to bring a sweater, an umbrella. he's the greeter. he's the weatherman."

"it's almost like if they were family," said rios. "a lot of people come in with problems from the outside. i let them take it out, it makes them feel good."

rios was born and raised in brooklyn with two brothers. his father died 10 years ago. he and his wife, a retired new york city schoolteacher, raised two daughters on the first and second floors of a three-family brownstone they purchased in park slope in 1977.

the couple likes to "get in the car, turn it on and just go." they've been to vermont, london and montreal, where they visited cathedrals and casinos.

"i'm usually pretty good with casinos," he said.

when it comes to his 35 years at the door, however, rios is modest and nonchalant. "the building practically runs itself," he maintained, "nothing unusual happens here."

yet tenants say he is unusual for his ability to be the eyes and ears of a building.

"i feel pretty good around him when i'm out there," giordano said. "he's watching out for me."

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