Friday, February 10, 2012


In my article "Caregiver", (Sue's News, October 29, 2011) I quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald, who famously wrote, "The rich are different from you and me."

My sister-in-law and I are caregivers for a well-to-do couple. I guess I should no longer be surprised that rich clients "look down on" us; after all, in their view, we are "servants". I am actually amused because I believe that they firmly believe that they are NOT patronizing. He has actually uttered the words: "we're like family". When I hear that I always mutter to myself, "The fourth oldest lie in the world." (see my article "The Three Oldest Lies In The World" January 22, 2010).

On my first day on the assignment, the client gave me fine instruction on how to mix his cocktail and seeing the shot glass, I said, "This looks like Waterford." I don't think that he realized he was being condescending when he asked, "You know Waterford?" I answered, "Why, yes I do." I was so proud of myself for NOT saying, "I have far more Waterford than you!" I held up the glass to the light to see the hallmark.

He was obviously so stunned by this revelation that he mentioned the conversation to my sister-in-law and she told me she told him that I had "hundreds" of pieces! The next day he said that my sister-in-law had told him about "all" my Waterford. I neither denied nor agreed on the number of pieces. I replied, "You'll have to come over to see my collection." He said, "She said you even have chandeliers." I said, "But those are Capodimonte, NOT Waterford."

One day when I entered the house, I asked, "How are you?" and he answered, "Fair to middlin'." He then said, "Oh, you probably don't know that saying." I answered, "I believe it's how cotton is graded." He said, "You are the first person up here who has known that." He and his wife are originally from the South.

Once when I answered, "It is I.", he said that he was surprised to hear good grammar. I asked, "Here in Ohio or from me?" He didn't respond and I could not keep from laughing and said, "I can also spell very well."

I know that he thinks we are "low class", but also ignorant?

A large part of the job is hearing him regale me with stories of his wartime exploits, travel, and his supposed expertise of history. He said something about Mr. Lincoln which was inaccurate and I told him, very nicely, what was accurate about "my hero Mr. Lincoln". I said, "There have been lots of problems in the South with inaccuracies in their textbooks."

Clearly irritated, he asked, "Since you're so educated, why are you doing this kind of work?" I knew that question was inevitable because my sister-in-law had told me he had asked her why I was doing "that kind of work".

I was prepared for the question and I answered, "I believe it takes a great deal of perspicacity to be qualified for this kind of work."

He asked, "Do you know how to spell that?" I said, "Yes, p-e-r-s-p-i-c-a-c-i-t-y; would you like to look it up in the dictionary?"

He told my sister-in-law that I'm "feisty"! She thinks I should be like her and "ignore" him; I told her that he is the one who broaches the subjects so he obviously wants to discuss them. She told me that I am "out of place" to correct him; I laughed and said, "I know MY PLACE, after all, we are LIKE family!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How could anyone doubt your perspicacity, especially about Mr. Lincoln? I'm surprised you didn't say a rejoinder I heard you say once: "Well, I have a MISTER Lincoln rose bush!"