Friday, July 15, 2016

House Staff Abuse Among the Rich!

As unthinkable as it may be, we see it all the time in the legitimate press and trashy tabloid papers about how certain celebrities, political figures, and other rich types are occasionally accused of mistreating the very people who take care of them.

It's no big secret on the international stage that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife was recently accused and convicted of abusing her household staff. Here's a link to the embarrassing article in the BBC news, to cite one unpleasant example.

I've received many inquiries on this topic, but to tell you the truth it's difficult to write about. Things are so complicated in the lives of the super rich. They live in their own isolated world, and have such highly-specialized needs.

In the corporate world where everyone is on their best behavior forty hours a week, the very thought of verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical abuse is forbidden and met with ferocious law suits if any such transgressions occur, right?

But in the intimacy of a private home, things are substantially different. Unlike at the office where everyone's behaving properly, at home we in the house staff see our employers at their very worst and crabby moments, from when they fist wake up in the morning until they finally crawl into bed at night. No one can expect them to be all smiles and best manners twenty-four hours a day. We understand this, and have a high tolerance for bad moods and disrespectful behavior - or else we couldn't handle this kind of job. It's something akin to being part of a grumpy quarreling family - which usually means nothing and smooths out during the day.

However, there comes a point when some employers might take out their bad moods on their household staff in more troublesome ways. We're easy targets after all, and get it all the time. Lack of appreciation or gratitude for all that's being done for them comes with the territory of course, and we all know how to deal with it.

But when it comes to verbal insults, demeaning behavior, physical or sexual abuse, that crosses the line and becomes the rightful territory of lawyers and lawsuits. The sad part being that many rich people in America hire illegal immigrants, undocumented workers, at low wages to run their homes - desperate people who are afraid to bring charges against them for whatever abuse they might suffer, for fear of being deported.

House staff jobs fill legitimate needs, just as office staff are indispensable in running a corporation. There should really be no discrepancy between the two fields in just how much we should tolerate abuse. Luckily there are some internal controls. We don't give up our civil rights because we work in a private home, and most legitimate house-staffing agencies will blackball any employer who's accused of abuse and will not send future applicants into that environment.

While celebrities abusing their house staff make BIG SPLASHY HEADLINES in the tabloids, the good news is that the vast majority of rich people are respectful and appreciative toward those who are seeing after their needs. Or else this occupation would not and could not exist.

Thanks for stopping in this evening, I hope this shed some light.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Good Manners Vs. Proper Etiquette!

There seems to be a common misconception that rich people are blessed with both good manners and proper etiquette that have propelled them to the top of high society. We put them on a pedestal, sometimes trying to emulate their behaviors, like role models in our own struggles toward financial gain and social acceptance.

However, and not to burst bubbles in any way, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Especially in this current climate of the new rich popping up by the thousands all over the globe, most of whom barely know their butts from a hole in the ground! And having politely said that, before going further it's best to look at definitions:

Proper etiquette is simply a set of rules and recommendations to guide us through social situations - things like setting a proper table, sending out invitations and thank-you notes, international protocol on how to greet royalty, other dignitaries, and how to organize them in a reception line. Plus endless rules about personal comportment -  like how to walk, how to sit, how to eat, and what conversation is allowed at the dinner table. This is not innate information that any of us are born with. It's a thing that has to be learned along the way from parental guidance, from etiquette schools, or simply self-taught from observations of how others do things. What's more (and disturbingly so) is that etiquette varies from country to country all over the world. In America at least we have voluminous books to rely upon, like Emily Post and Amy Vanderbilt - who mostly base their principles on proper British etiquette.

Having good manners on the other hand is something that stems from the soul. It has to do with empathy, being aware of other people around you, being courteous and respectful, putting others before yourself - politeness based on the Golden Rule "Do Unto Others". There's a few specific guidelines we're all familiar with, like not slamming a door in someone's face, helping old ladies cross the street, or giving your seat to elders on the bus. But if you don't already have this compassionate attitude toward others in your soul, then good luck with learning it from a book.

There's an urban myth variously attributed to Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and several others, wherein a guest at a formal dinner sipped water from her finger bowl. The hostess, whoever it might have been, immediately picked up and sipped from her own finger bowl so her guest wouldn't be embarrassed. The take away from this charming legend, of course, is simply that good manners should triumph over proper etiquette.

Most certainly it's nice to be possessed with both manners and proper etiquette at the same time. But having to choose, good manners are decidedly priority. The specific rules of etiquette can and will fall into place along the way, if and when needed.

For the past year I've been following The Royal Butler's blog. Grant Harrold, formerly in service to British royals and now a well know commentator and instructor, gives us points on both manners and etiquette in a most delightful and humorous sort of way. (He's also on Twitter @TheRoyalButler)  So if you need to brush up, or have recently become rich, this would be a good starting point to pull it all together.

As always, thanks for dropping in this evening. I hope your summer is going along nicely.