The 64-year-old has held his post as the gatekeeper at Green Hill Condominium for four decades.
"I was not definitely a people person and I've become that, even to the surprise of myself," said Harkins. "It really improved my outlook on everything in life."
Harkins has watched families grow up as they drove by. Today, many residents gathered to congratulate him with a special plaque and 40-year anniversary pin.
"It's always wonderful when you come back and you get, 'Welcome home,' from John," said Judith Grenen.
Residents like Grenen are impressed and comforted by Harkins' consistency and kindheartedness.
"He's just lovely," said Marylyn Waltzer. "I go out and walk every morning and John and I have a conversation every morning."
Harkins enjoys learning about residents' struggles and triumphs, chatting with each passerby just long enough to avoid holding up traffic.
"I have many friends and have been invited to their parties, their functions, their funerals," he said. "I feel like I'm part of the family here. I really am. I feel that."
Harkins sees himself as a dependable watchdog for the people of his Green Hill community. Older residents may remember how he rode his trusty motorcycle to work even on treacherous snow days. He has no plans on retiring and takes pride in working every holiday with the exception of Christmas Day.
And on this makeshift holiday, his 40-year anniversary, he was grateful to have residents show up for him.
"That wasn't mandatory, I know, for them to come to that," he said about his surprise ceremony. "They came because they wanted to and I really appreciate that. I really do."
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