Category Archives: Socialites

Social Animals

A few months ago, I wrote about social climbers, and received some interesting feedback from some of the readers. In speaking with people, just when you think you have heard everything, someone comes up and knocks you off your feet with the latest faux-pas.

It is interesting how some people decide who is in and who is out based on their decision of whether or not they like the person or think there is something to be gained from being their friend. They ostracize people ruthlessly, spread malicious gossip, and spend an inordinate amount of time being negative towards someone, who in many cases, is not what they expected. Some of the put-downs are really quite something….telling someone that ‘you are the only one …..’ , ‘how did you get into this private club’ …, ‘who invited you?..’ as if by some feat of magic, they are the only ones in the room of any importance. The best of course, are parties where the guests are told who is being excluded, and the reasons why. One business man held a party for his single friends, and told everyone not to breathe a word about it as his rich married clients would be offended that he held a cocktail party and didn’t invite them, another businessman, who is the worst name dropper ever, actually had the audacity to hold 2 Christmas parties, one day after the other, and labelled one ‘losers night’.
The question MUST be asked, if his guests were losers, why on earth did he invite them? Word spread around the city like a brushfire, and he succeeded in offending a lot of very important people, The worst thing is, apparently he served the leftovers from one party to the guests at the second party…..and they heard about it. Did he really think people wouldn’t talk?

In one gesture, he rendered everyone speechless, and ensured that he was removed from a great number of lists himself, although he still doesn’t really understand what it is that he did wrong. He actually thinks that it was socially acceptable to humiliate his guests.

What must go through the mind of these people that somehow they actually believe that they are special? A bigger house, a better car, more money in the bank?
There is always someone better looking, more popular, richer, more connected and more. The only thing they are succeeding in doing, is making themselves lose credibility. In the eyes of their little circle of friends they may be entertaining in telling their stories, but for anyone on the outside their behaviour is acutely embarrassing. They always have a terse word about others, but they never find the time or the energy to actually find out who people are before they speak ill of them.

Life plays funny games on people, and cruelty eventually catches up . There is nothing to be gained by humiliating someone, it is not sweet, cute or even remotely entertaining.
Think about it, and think how many people are richer, better looking or more successful than you are……and think about the fact that the ugly duckling often turns into the swan. You never know where you will end up in life. The person you insulted could be the one who could ultimately save your life.

SERVICE Industry

Let me once again re-iterate the word SERVICE. That means the service of your customers or potential customers, You know, those people who pay your salary.

One of the most common complaints today, is with the voice dripping with condescension on the other end of the line when one calls to make a reservation in a pricey restaurant. First, you are put on hold, then told they are incredibly busy and will be back in a moment, then the breathless ‘hello’ as if your time is of no interest or value to them. The negotiation as to the time and day the restaurant will deem to allow you into it’s hallowed halls to pay for overpriced, over spiced food. One must wonder what exactly goes through the head of these individuals. One trendy fusion Asian-French Restaurant kept us on the phone waiting for well over 10 minutes to make a simple reservation. No, 8pm wasn’t acceptable, but 8:45 was, but a lecture to tell us that we must absolutely arrive on time. We arrived early on the appointed night, to discover an amazingly pretentious greeter, a half-empty restaurant, good tables which were empty, terrible tables full, an attitude when we suggested that we didn’t want the assigned table, and mind-numbingly slow bad service. By 10pm the restaurant was 3/4 empty. The staff spent the entire evening fussing and preening themselves in front of the mirrors, and actually complaining about the clients. The food was totally unimaginative, the setting a very poor rip-off of a well known London Restaurant, prices over the moon, a grotesquely over-priced and not exciting wine list, and washrooms which weren’t the cleanest or most interesting off in Siberia. Furthermore, I can’t possibly imagine how someone older and not totally mobile was expected to be able to reach them- up stairs, around a corner, down a corridor. Forget wheelchair access.

Somehow, it is assumed that if you can afford to frequent these trendy restaurants, that you aren’t stupid. Obviously one must be intelligent enough to have worked for the cash in your pocket. What on EARTH are these people thinking? That clients are stupid and blind and we can’t see that with all your advertising everywhere, that your restaurant is half empty and all the staff seem to care about is their own image?

The same things apply with ‘Customer Service’ desks in shops, banks and government departments. How many times have you reached the counter only to have a rude employee look over you as if you are invisible, put a sign on the wicket and walk away, even though you are the only one in the queue. You are then expected to wait for 30-70 minutes while they either go on ‘break’ or for lunch. Forgetting that your time is also of value, and presumably you took time off work to be there. Spending the 5 minutes serving you would not have been such a hardship for them. And the polite response that you are the last one before they go for their ‘break’ or lunch.

The endless being put on hold on telephone ‘Customer Service’ lines, to wait over 20 minutes sometimes, only to have someone from half way around the world with a bad accent, who doesn’t understand two thirds of what you say, is rude, and finally hangs up on you because they don’t want it to appear that they couldn’t answer your question.

If you are being paid to provide a service, smile, provide the service, THANK your customer, they are the ones paying your salary, and then move on to the next. If you are having a bad day, don’t blame it on the people paying your wages.

Somehow there seems to be a common thread – treat your clients like ignorant children and think they will flock to continue to do business with you. With the internet today, word tends to get around at the speed of light. One has to pity the investors in some of these ventures, as they are usually not aware of how poorly the clients are treated. With all the social networking services available both on mobile phones and the internet, it is seconds today from being in business to being ruined. Companies should remind their ‘Customer Service’ Representatives about this fact.

Social Climbers

Everyone has met a few of them… go to a cocktail party, and are introduced to someone who has an inflated view of their self worth, and is constantly looking over the shoulder of the person they are speaking with in case someone more important comes through the door. Some of them are more elegant and discreet than others, and some think they are above it all, and their disgraceful behaviour  towards others is totally normal. Whether or not you are 16, 26 or 60, we have unfortunately all been at the mercy of those who think they are somehow special, and deserve to hob nob only with the rich and famous.

One of the things about growing older (not me, of course!) is that hindsight is truly 20/20. As someone who has met some of the wealthiest and most prominent people in the world, it is fairly hard to impress me, and simply money is certainly not the way to do it. Having grown up in London, my perceptions are somewhat moulded by my childhood abroad.

At recent garden party, one incredibly rude guest RSVP’d, then turned up and took all the fruit from one of the host’s fruit bushes to make jam. She came into the kitchen to survey the crowd, and when she ascertained that there was no-one there sufficiently important for her, off she went, with no thank you, no excuses, other than the fact that she had ‘things to do’. One must ask the following questions…..1. Why did she RSVP to say she was coming.

2. If she had time to drive all the way over, certainly she had time to stay for a cocktail. 3. What could possibly be so important that she should snub everyone in the room by making it evident that she didn’t consider them important enough.4. And most importantly, the hosts had planned their menu based upon the number of guests who had mentioned they would be coming. It is rude and disrespectful to have your hosts provision food and drink for you and then not have the good manners to at least stay a while and participate.

Yes, we all had a truly lovely time, and interestingly the group had no social climbers, so everyone mingled and exchanged ideas and knowledge. Many chairs were exchanged so that people could move about and speak with each other. The sign of a successful party and very generous hosts.

There is some tasty irony in this story, inasmuch as this same ‘turbo-prop setter’ as opposed to a ‘jet-setter’ went bankrupt several years ago and lived at the generosity of several people over the years, yet continued to carry on as if the homes in which she resided were actually hers, instead of the truth, which was that she was actually living at the generosity of her hosts.

It appears to me, that if anyone should make an attempt to be generous, it is her, yet it appears etiquette is something sorely missing in her vocabulary. She has forgotten that she would have been living in the street if it wasn’t for the generosity of others.

Another well known social climber and snob is actually the mistress to a fairly wealthy married man. Seeing her walk down the street with her dark glasses is something to behold, yet many know exactly how her rent is paid, and it certainly isn’t with cash. She has decided that although the man will never divorce his current wife and marry her, that somehow she is special, and deserves special treatment, and only the best. The Hermes bags which are flashed are actually fakes, albeit good ones, the Chanel shoes are also copies, yet the arrogance and attitude of this woman and sense of entitlement are astounding, not to mention  the condescending  way she speaks and actually pronounces when she makes a statement, as if we should actually all be in awe of her.

Another social climber came into a dining room where 20 –25 people were seated, interrupted the speaker and the entire room to introduce her guest, and brag about what function she was coming from. She kept on for at least 10 minutes until the hostess was obliged to ask if they were staying or leaving. Funnily enough, they were actually leaving. Once she checked out the room and decided that there were bigger fish to be had elsewhere, she announced that she had other stops to make and would be running off.  Translation, she was going to the next event to see if the people were more important with her ‘posse’ in tow.

Several months ago, I ran into a woman I have known for over 30 years while  in a shop , after not seeing one another for several years. NOT someone I particularly care to socialise with. I was absolutely interrogated as to what I had been up to and with whom. It wasn’t successful on her part, as I always refuse to participate in the ‘my friends are better than yours’ game. This was actually one of the few times that I was publicly rude to someone. Her loud squeaky voice is jarring, and can be heard across any store. The questioning game was so astounding that at one point I advised her I was late as I was meeting someone at my house to write music, something I have been doing for a very long time, She squealed loudly that she was unaware I had ever done anything artistic or musical in my life, and this was news to her. Enough being enough, I finally turned around and suggested that if she had spent even 10% of the time actually getting to know me as opposed to gossiping about me behind my back, perhaps she would have actually known that I had been writing for years, and that in fact, she might actually have more interesting friends if she actually asked about people genuinely as opposed to always gossiping about everyone behind their back.

She is one of these women who have had the same group of friends forever, and they sit around and absolutely  rip everyone to shreds if they don’t know them, with a self-righteous tone, which is so sad, the joy of life is actually getting to know people from different races and walks of life so that one can learn and appreciate.

I never understood this game.

Young and old, we all face these individuals. Some of us realize who they are and what the game is,and learn to smile brightly while one is being questioned. Others are offended. The big question to ask, is, 30 years on, what on earth has been accomplished by being a rude social climber when decidedly you are in the same place you started 30 years before.

Is there a lesson in this? Yes, open your mind and more importantly use your ears instead of your mouth. You might be pleasantly surprised.