The Rich are Different from Us

Owing to recent experiences, I have concluded that either a: The very wealthy do not like to use their hands or b) they like to use their hands but the not so wealthy are afraid to let them actually do so. I base these conclusions on a recent trip to New Orleans. My long suffering hard working wife was rewarded for months of toil in the sales industry with a pretty sweet trip to the Big Easy.

Going from my modest twelve hundred square foot tract housing abode to a nine hundred square foot luxury hotel suite was an experience I was not quite prepared for. Apart from the visual shock of tasteful decoration (my dwelling is “post college eclectic”) the servile manner of the staff was a bit discomfiting. In short, should I ever become fabulously wealthy, I’m staying in the motel six.

The hotel was finely appointed, I enjoyed the room and the five dollar mini bar beers yet the staff, while doing nothing overt, disturbed me. I was a bit tired on arrival so when the bellhop grabbed my bags and opened the door for me nothing struck me as any different from any other hotel. My impression changed later that day. It was mid afternoon and I was headed out the front door. It was unmanned and the concierge was involved with another guest. A lone bellhop, replete with shiny buttons reflecting the tasteful muted lighting, was rolling a cart of suitcases across the lobby. I went for the front door and suddenly realized I was in some sort of upper crust race. The bellhop had abandoned his cart and was eating up the distance between himself and the door with purposeful strides. A thought crossed my mind “Ha, they have discovered you shop at Wal-Mart, you’re getting the boot!” I was mistaken, my status as a poseur had not been revealed, the bellhop was racing to open the door for me. Our paths terminated at roughly the same time leaving us both reaching for the door in something reminiscent of synchronized swimming. My years of peasantry paid off, I reached the handle a moment before my newfound competitor and, being completely at home with the workings of a door, I began to swing the gilded handle towards me. Instead of getting a cheery “good game” or a dejected “You have won this round” I was met with an expression of near abject horror and a profound apology, including several sirs which (while I have bought a lot of Beatles albums I have yet to Knighted) left me confused.

After that incident it became a constant game of cat and mouse, I would feint towards the lobby bar and make a wild plunge for the entrance in a usually vain attempt to open the door for myself. I chalked this strangeness up to some bit of etiquette that had escaped me. So it came as a bit of a shock at dinner that evening when the waiter put a napkin on my lap. I am fairly at home with the purpose of a napkin and could generally find my way to my rapidly disappearing (damn those beignets) lap. At this point, the obsequiousness of the staff was starting to grate on my nerves a bit. My merest utterances were met with a “Very good sir” or “Fine observation m’Lord” (actually no one ever called me m’Lord, but it is a fine idea). I was fortunate; the rest of the meal proceeded uneventfully. I was allowed to cut my own steak and feed myself. Yet I had the nagging feeling that if I had announced that I was feeling a bit spent the Maitre’d would be to my plate in a flash with a serrated steak knife while the wine steward would undoubtedly manipulate my jaw in order to lessen the burden inflicted by mastication.

So now I am left in a state of near complete puzzlement. Why do the wealthy not want to use their hands? If they do want to use their hands why won’t the staff allow such a seemingly trivial thing? I have come up with some theories, none entirely satisfactory. Perhaps many of the guests are actually skilled surgeons. This explains why the staff felt comfortable leaving me with a steak knife at dinner. Still, most of the guests appeared to be retired. Perhaps the staff wants to leave the guests hands free in order to tip more frequently. There is a certain logic to this; free hands mean an unencumbered trip to a overfilled money clip. Yet my entire stay there I never passed out any of the green stuff and I was still given the hands free treatment. I have several other theories, concerning the illuminati and secret hand signals but these are even less credible than the aforementioned theories. At this point I am tempted to call up FOX, Robert Stack and Leonard Nimoy and ask for a full tilt, all out investigation.

Chris Seibold

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