Monday, December 12, 2011

A Working Stiff's Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember by Iain Levison (Random House 2002)

The hard part is learning the route. I'm working Philadelphia's Main Line, once again servicing rich people, many of whom have mansions for houses. Families of three or four live in eighteen-bedroom castles, with new sports cars in every driveway. I drive around and wonder what these people do for a living. Where do the rich come from? Do all these houses belong to geniuses, inventors of rocket engines and cures for diseases? Did they have one great idea, like Post-it notes, and capitalize on it? Is there some fascinating story behind this great surplus of money, or have they simply inherited a factory that makes toenail clippers for the armed forces?

One thing's for sure; they believe they deserve it. I don't know many rich people, but I've met enough to know that even the ones who were handed a trust fund think of themselves as special, not lucky. They reinvent the past to include details of their own forbearance and fortitude to anyone who'll listen, and someone always will because they're rich. It's always more entertaining listening to the rich, because there's always a chance you'll be asked along to the Bahamas or given a sports car for the weekend. The fact that they're usually stingier than the people I hang out with takes a while to sink in.

The other great fact about rich people is that their kids are always fuck-ups. Not the kind of lovable fuck-up who works down at the gas station and tells you he can fix your car and then destroys it. No, rich kids are shady. They're the kind that dream up a brilliant illegal plan, just to show their dad a thing or two; then when you all get caught, they beg their dad for a great lawyer and never talk to you again. They were born into money, and they know money will take care of them. This security gives them a whole different value system, one the rest of the world never quite gets.

These half-empty houses, I notice, are mostly dark and quiet, like the set from Citizen Kane. Housewives putter around in the kitchens, and I see their coiffed heads through the window as I hook up my hose to their oil fills. They are usually alone. They never wave. The third great fact about rich people is that they don't talk to the help. Lady Chatterley's Lover was bullshit.

No comments: