“Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”… remember that show? From the balcony of my suite at a fancy-schmancy resort hotel in Miami Beach, I keep hearing Robin Leach’s voice saying things like, “He drives a Lamborghini, but that’s not all….” as the camera sweeps to a shot of a 50-foot immaculately appointed yacht.
No, I haven’t won the lottery. I just stowed away in my husband’s luggage as he packed for a conference in Southern Florida. (Stuck the kids in his carry on bag). When we got here we were upgraded to a suite in some gracious cosmic nod to how difficult it can be to spend prolonged time with your family when stuffed into 300 square feet. So here we sit, surveying the hotel’s ridiculous spread of pools and glittering beachfront.
We are interlopers in this world, and God forgive me, it’s fun! It’s fun to play at being the person who sips ice cold watermelon-flavored water poolside. It’s fun to “call down for the car,” and be greeted by a phalanx of men in crisp white uniforms upon your return. When I pick up the phone, a voice answers, “How may I help you, Tandon party?” How lovely. How nice to step outside of reality for a moment and peek at the 1%.
But would I want to stay here? As my little neighbor buddy would say, “No fanks.” That’s not just because I know I can’t, so therefore am pretending I don’t want to. I just know that jockeying for the “best spot” by the pool, or tripping over beach chairs lined up like automatons on my way to dip my toes in the water is not the life for me. There is a lovely rocky cove in Maine that is never crowded that beats this jumble of people any day. (At this point in my logic my husband points out that that cove is never crowded because the water is always ass cold. I know. But still.)
What really makes me glad that I’m just a visitor in this world, however, is best illustrated by an encounter at the hotel coffee shop yesterday. I stopped in for an $8 latte (like a drug addict, I would have paid any price at the time…) and a treat for the kids. The man behind me ordered thusly:
Barrista: How may I help you?
Man: Give me an Americano.
Me (thinking): Say please!
Man: What’s in these cookies?
Barrista: Chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
Man: Give me one of those, too.
Me (thinking): Seriously? You’re not going to say please?
Second Barrista: Here is your Americano, sir.
Me (thinking, and biting tongue): Thank you!! Hello? Can’t even say thank you?
Moments later, alone with kids:
Me: I’d better never see or hear about you guys ordering a coffee when you are a grown up and not saying please and thank you!
Kids: eye rolls
I’m not saying all rich people are rude. I’m just saying at this particular resort, on this particular getaway, it was more often the norm to see people behaving in ways that made me cringe. I’d never want my kids to think it’s okay to treat anyone with disdain, no matter how many dollars are in their pockets. Think of the character Celia in The Help – she was incredibly rich but innately kind.
I may never be incredibly rich, but I strive to be kind in all circumstances, and will continue to teach my kids to be that way as well, no matter how many eye rolls. Be kind to someone today! Give an extra hearty “please” and “thank you” to the next person who serves you. We’re all in this together.