Irene Pettus radiates charm throughout the lobby of the Shoreham Apartments. Working the night shift, her kind, optimistic and helpful manner seems to exude a natural instinct for graciousness.
But her professional attitude is fueled by the people in the building, Pettus said.
“Oh my goodness, Shoreham’s got the best residents you ever want to meet,” she said. “They offer to bring me food and invite me into their homes, and the management team and the maintenance teams are awesome.”
Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Pettus was Assistant Manager for an emissions testing center in Naperville when a friend, who works for the door staff of a nearby building, encouraged her to contact Titan Security, the company that manages Shoreham’s front desk.
“He said, ‘you got the great personality for it, and yadda yadda,’” she recalled. “So I said okay.”
Pettus brings a never-ending drive to get things done. Besides taking on some of the cleaning work at night, she makes a habit of “wiping down carts and baskets so other people don’t have to worry about touching it” to help reduce the risk of the pandemic.
“It keeps everybody safe,” she said. “That’s what my whole thing is.”
She also brings in snacks for the four-legged residents.
“If the dogs see it’s not me (at the desk), they keep on walking,” she said. “Boris, Bailey, Sebastian, Grace, Minnow, Truman, Gus. Bella comes down at 4 o’clock in the morning. Angel has like six teeth and does this dance on her hind legs.”
Outside of the job, Pettus spends time with her family. Her oldest son, Raphael, founded a company that builds custom sound systems for vehicles. Her youngest, Ray, is a former army chef who earned a masters degree in Culinary Arts and started a catering business.
“My sons and I talk every day,” she said. “When I’m just thinking of my oldest, he’ll sometimes call and say, ‘Mom, what do you want?’”
Pettus has six grandchildren who like to play card games. She uses the activity to teach them a thing or two.
“I’m like this: ‘I’m not going to let you win at anything; you have to beat me,’” she said. “Boy, we have a ball!”