August 7, 2015
For a long time I couldn’t quite understand what a narcissist was. Everyone used the word and I knew the definition but a deep knowing eluded me. That was until I found one chewing at my ankle one day and realized they had been feeding on me for years. It’s like googling bear and realizing you need to stop covering yourself in honey and running around the wild. I understood.
I have also reached this great “a-ha” moment with “entitlement.” Entitlement was such a weird word to me. Teens are entitled, people would say. Well, duh. Of course they are. All children are. Until you carry your own debt, you are entitled. What’s the big deal?
People want their coffees and their iStuff and universal healthcare and they want it now. They’re entitled. That’s not news. It used to be houses, low gas prices, pensions and Social Security. Geez, they even call it entitlements. Not news.
But I think there’s an entitlement that I have experienced that truly does take it to another level…although I don’t know if it is news as my story is about the ultra-rich. Are they not entitled by definition? Let’s find out.
A 3%er had me over to build a veggie garden. We built one. Some mysterious animal ate it all. With the client’s approval, we decided to erect a fence to see if it was rabbits. It the 3’ fence got scaled, then we could look at trying to keep out rats and squirrels.
I erected an inexpensive temporary fence. I sent a bill.
3 times while my associate put up the fence a minion crossed the expansive green lawn to say, “does that fence come in other colors?” My associate at first apologetically and then assuredly and then bewilderedly replied, “no, this is the only color.”
The last time the minion crossed the lawn she started off her question with, “Just so you know I’m quitting this job, but I have to ask you…”
This fence was made with store-bought materials. (This is where mere mortals buy things. Rich people we find out can evidently have other people shit whatever they desire out of their ass) It was a green plastic poultry fence with green metal t-posts. Standard, budget-conscious, easy to build, and most importantly, easy to open and close so the garden can be accessed. Many of my clients have these as their permanent fence.
Immediately the emails and texts started. This fence is an eyesore. I can’t believe this is up to your standards. This is within eye sight of my house. You need to take this down. You need to fix this.
I explained many, many times why I chose that fence, how there are few other options, how we needed to diagnose the problem before we could move on to something more attractive, more expensive and more permanent. All this was met with speculation, pettiness and insults. We hate the fence, one text said.
These numerous texts, voicemails and emails came from four different people as well. The owner, her two assistants, and her business manager. There was at one time nine different email threads going at once…about a bunny fence. And then about how they expected me to switch out the test fence for a nice fence for free. Meaning for free like not even pay for the original fence. And not pay for the new fence.
In the meantime, I had been checking on the garden, tending it. The fence, although hideous, held up. The test lettuce was growing uneaten. As part of my maintenance I check the irrigation system, in this case a drip system we installed in the boxes. So while I was there, I clicked through the dial of the Rainbird manually as I wasn’t sure what station the veggies beds were on. While I worked through the numerous stations of the back yard I noticed a sprinkler head was broken along the side of the property, water shooting way up in the air. I ran to the back door so I could show the owner and the assistant which head it was. After telling them, I ran back to the Rainbird, shut off the station and capped the head so it wouldn’t blow wasteful water while it waited to be fixed.
The next day an email appeared stating that I “or a member of my company” had broken a sprinkler head on the property and that I was going to have to pay for that.
A very very bad feeling ran through my veins. I cced the entire group of darkness that I would not be responding to emails, visiting the garden or replacing anything until my outstanding invoice for maintenance, irrigation and fencing was paid.
That’s when I was told by the business mananger, “Oh you’ll be paid when you swap out that fence.” I told them (ccing all parties) that I was broken-hearted. I explained I was a small company and a single mom. I had bought materials out of my own pocket and subcontracted out my crew trusting that my invoice would be paid. That I had even visited twice to check on the bunny fence and the irrigation without charging them. That I had spent hours answering emails and researching alternate fence materials.
It may sound silly but I pour my soul into my gardens. I had special ordered purple radishes, round zucchini and a special version of cherry tomato because my client wanted them. This is a garden service with heart and compassion. And this woman, in her 6 million dollar house was not going to pay the $600 invoice they had racked up…well, it seriously threatened my faith in us as a species. I’m a sensitive sot. And I told them so.
They didn’t budge.
So I informed them I was suing them in small claims court. Emailed over the paperwork from the government website.
And then? And then?
Then came the texts, emails and phone calls again.
When are you coming to fix the fencing?
There’s something wrong with the irrigation?
The plants are looking sad. When are you coming?
Did you get my voicemail? I think it cut me off.
When are you coming again?
Unless I have been willed to her for a lifetime of indentured agricultural servitude; maybe there was some strange clause in my adoption, maybe I am to be locked in her palace Cinderella-style to maintain her garden…outside of that, I am not voluntarily coming back to work on your garden. I really don’t know how else to put this in a way that could be more clear to you. So I am putting it here.
I have told you. I have told your assistants. I have told your business manager. I have told the Los Angeles Courthouse. And now I have told the world. I am not bringing my beautiful ass to your Entitled Garden ever again.
Your prissy, princess hissy fit will not force my hand. Your withholding of payment and your promise to pay if I just do this one……more…. thing…will not bend my back.
Entitlement does not have to be tied to wealth but it seems particularly predictable and repugnant when it is. I know for sure that their unwillingness to pay is not tied to their ability to pay and that their wealth and power has for so long paved easy street for them that to not get their needs met on their own terms at every turn sets assistants running for their iStuff as my refusal to play whip the servant elicits a complete meldown and probably a facial expression last seen on Cruella de Vil. What???? I’m not getting my way??? When are you coming back????
In the defense of rich people, I’ve worked for some really nice ones. And still do. But this one, this one is the human equivalent of posting warnings about the effects of the #CAdrought on your facebook page while at the same time running 100 sprinkler heads in your back yard. I guess I can say now I paid for one of those. You’re welcome.