Dear Ms. Demeanor,
I'm going to be away for a week and want some of the building staff to water my plants and collect my mail. Is that fair to ask? Should I pay them or give a gift? If paying is more appropriate, how much should I give them?
Bonnie Voyage
Dear Bonnie,
I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask the building staff to water your plants. It is one of the many joys of living in NYC!  Cash is king. I think $20- $40 (the range depends on the number of plants you have and/or how high maintenance they are) is perfect and perfectly lovely.
Ain't no sunshine when you're gone, 
Ms. Demeanor 

Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to and put "Dear Ms. Demeanor" in the subject line.

See all of Ms. Demeanor's advice here



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Ms. Demeanor's Sex, Laundry & Vertical Etiquette is written by etiquette columnist Jamie Lauren Sutton, a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur