Thursday, March 13, 2014

How Not to Be Rich

The two things I'm proudest of last year are reducing my debt by almost $6000 and writing a short story for a friend who is editing an anthology about booze.  The story is called "How to Be Rich" and features a dog walker.  I don't write many short stories but this was good and I'm pleased with it and, in a way, more excited for it to come out than I am my own book.

Today I was inundated with the opposite: rich people who don't use their wealth in private situations, who substitute wealth, as it were, for personal responsibility.  And it featured a dog walker.

I could smell something awful when I opened the door to pick up two dogs.  The vacuum cleaner was out and I could hear laundry running, so I assumed it was a clean-up situation.  When I went into the living room to leash the second dog, I turned around to see diarrhea all over the floor.  The housekeeper wasn't there but a guy way, working on his laptop six feet away from the mess.  "Uh-oh," I said.  "Someone had an accident."  

"Yeah," he answered.  "I'm gonna clean it up."

"Do you know which dog?"

"I didn't notice," he said, still tapping away.

Um.  How do you not notice which dog leaves a small lake of shit six feet away from you.  I looked again and could tell it was the female dog's (you get to know these things) and, since she was barking like a used car salesman, I figured he would do what he said.  It was 12.30 and the housekeeper was probably at lunch.

I get back and hear him making noises of disgust so I call out as I unleash the dogs, "I'm pretty used to this.  Do you need help?"

He whips by me and says, "I'll call Barbara to tell her to tell Antonia to clean it up.  It's too disgusting."  The door shuts and the apartment is still as a very stinky tomb.

I found bags and paper towels and spray cleaner and wiped it all up, then opened the window to air out the fumes of bleach and poop. 

It made me think about the jackals that I fired last week.  Long before I got pulled down, I'd been having problems with biting when I put the gentle leader on one of them and had suggested a prong collar for the dog.  I sent them information about a wonderful behaviorialist who would work with the dog kindly and playfully -- that dog would have no idea he was being trained and growing self-confidence.  When I quit, I suggested two walkers who have training certificates and had room in their rosters for the dogs.  The last I heard, they had decided to have their adolescent son and baby-sitter walk the dogs.

Both sets of dogs live in buildings that wouldn't accept yuppie money.  These are Old Money buildings, one of them with rules about how many millions of dollars prospective buyers have to have in their bank accounts AFTER buying the apartment, in cash.

There are rich people and there are rich people.  In "How to Be Rich," I wrote about a couple who do it right.  Their money is used personally, to help out individuals.  But today I got to thinking about the people I've met in the 2 Percent who, while they vote liberally, take it for granted that their scared dog will reform himself or that shit will magically lift itself into a bag with a hint of lilac wafting after it.

That the jackals' owners couldn't bestir themselves to pay $20 at the pet store where they buy kibble for a prong collar in the four weeks before I quit is amazing.  That they don't care enough about their dog's fear-based bad and dangerous behavior is heartbreaking as concerns the dog and disregardful of the walker (who is now their son).

That this visitor would depend on the housekeeper to come home from lunch or errands to a trail of crap rather than suck it up and just deal with it astonishes me.  How does he think the 98 Percent deal with an accident?  Why should the housekeeper be left to deal with the most disgusting mess?  Did she sign a contract for cleaning bodily fluids?

Did the guy visiting the house have so little regards for the dogs themselves?  I mean, if you're using a friend or relative's couch to compute on, don't you owe them some responsibility?

Also among the 2 Percent is the rivalry of servants trying to work for them.  There are two walkers who come at the same time to deal with the three dogs, one a puppy in need of a longer walk than the two agoraphobic autistic dogs who aren't really dogs at all.  So you bet I texted Barbara, the owner, that the apartment would be cold and why.  Us servants are in a territorial war over people who don't care what their pets and other servants do and feel.  And I know very well that the buddy to have in the house is the housekeeper as much as the owner.  I wanted Antonia to owe me one.

(To be fair, if Barbara had been home when Antonia was out, she would have cleaned up the mess.  It's the visitor who assumes noblesse oblige I'm complaining about, not the owners.)

Rich people make the Rest of Us do icky things.  Cleaning up poop is the least of it.


Anonymous said...

how could any dog walker, someone who you would think loves dogs, call any dog "agoraphobic, autistic, and not really dogs at all"? watch out for this one, she's pretty sick.

Anonymous said...

Frances, I am so glad you're back! Your entries are thoughtful, well-written, funny, scathing, provocative - in short, something to look forward to. I read and re-read your books and enjoy them as much on the thirtieth read as I did on the first. I am eagerly anticipating your next book because I need an intelligent, well-written book and there are so few out there. I also am so impressed by your progress on paying down your debt. You are amazing! Please, please, please keep writing - you are one of those individuals who are meant to write. Please always remember that there are many people out here who applaud you and will always support you. You rock!

Gallis said...

Frances, I just want to thank you for your writing. It resonates with me and I never tire of reading you. I'm sorry this has happened to you, but maybe it's a bit of serendipity helping you make a decision you wanted to make.

Gallis said...

Frances, I'm sorry this has happened to you. I love your writing and hope you don't stop.