Lucille Morgan is a writer, activist and free spirit. Believing that life is too short her mission is to live creatively and joyfully. Wealth and healthy relationship building are some of the themes she waxes lyrical about on her blog. She is also a contributor at : www.pinkvox.com
You’ll find her “uncommon sense” at: www.wisdomona.blogspot.com
The recent post on “some jobs pay more than you think” reminded me of a time when I had such a position working for a wealthy lady. I was a personal assistant-secretary for a wealthy woman who had clearly climbed the ladder of success, and to all intents and purposes, had reached the top.
My employer was a high flyer with everything that money could buy. Her salary was six figures and the value of her home in seven. She had a housekeeper; in fact several in the five years I worked there. She had an opulent three tiered home in a swanky neighbourhood. Downstairs was a labyrinth of rooms: breakfast room, dining room, drawing room, reading room and study. A winding staircase led to the second floor and six bedrooms, each with a walk-in wardrobe, sumptuously furnished; three of them with ensuite bathrooms.
The carpets were deep pile wool, walls decorated with exquisite, linen wallpaper, solid oak furniture and glittering chandeliers in all of the main rooms. The kitchen was a magnificent granite and marble spectacle with gleaming work surfaces, polished floor containing every gadget known and unknown – some pieces I’d never seen before in my life! The two acre garden was the crowning glory. It boasted a summer house and hot tub area surrounded by elegant landscaped grounds that incorporated a herb garden, rockery, water feature and endless flower beds of lavender, primroses and grand rhododendrons. In summer, I would take in the heady scents as the gardener tilled the soil, crimped and primped the rose bushes edging the manicured lawn.
I used to pinch myself just to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. I’d never rubbed shoulders with any high net worth individuals before so this was my first taste of the high life. Sadly it left a bitter taste in my mouth.
My job was to organize her social diary; book appointments, make travel reservations and generally organize her household and professional life so that it was near stress-free for her. Sounds simple and reasonable enough until I discovered that, included in my job description, was dealing with her neurotic fixations and rantings – of which there were many.
My boss’s husband was a manic depressive, who took medication that made him sleep well into the afternoon on some days. On the instructions of my boss, I would be asked to wake him. I’d gently knock on his door, call on his cell phone and even turn the music up but he was dead to the world. She would rant and rave about how he was a no-good lazy bum, and she couldn’t understand why she had ever married him.
Regular appointments to a shrink, plastic surgeon, beautician and masseur were necessities not luxuries. She would fume at her housekeeper if the French recipe she had picked out for dinner that evening was not cooked to perfection. Then housekeeper would confer with me on the art of making a soufflé and, countless times, she and I would be peering through the oven window timing the meringues so that they wouldn’t end up a gooey mess.
Now you would think that the woman with almost everything would be happy, right? Wrong….this was one dissatisfied soul! Each day, she’d count her woes – the stain on her silk blouse, a dead flower head in the garden, a streak on a wine glass, a crooked picture, a tassel missing from the curtain tie-back and dirt on the wheel of her cars (I kid you not!).
Her utterly perfect home was not perfect enough to her. Money she guarded fiercely and whenever I worked overtime she begrudged paying me the extra. Housekeepers never stayed long and a raise was robustly refused. There was no appreciation for her staff. At Christmas, we received a meagre gift, one year – a toaster! We were just the hired help.
I became the person she would off load her problems about staff, colleagues, family members, health issues, neighbours and, even shockingly, the fact that she believed herself to be not so well off as others. Life was an endless merry-go-round of grumbles and grievances!
Thankfully, it was a part-time position and the final straw came when I discovered the disparity between her hourly rate ($650 per hour) as a human resources consultant and mine as her employee ($25 per hour). It was slave labour and my feelings towards her started to change.
Working for someone so demanding and arrogant eventually wore me down. I would also feel isolated in her large study and having little social interaction. I felt twinges of envy for a woman who had so much but lacked generosity in purse and spirit to know it. The atmosphere, in those beautiful surroundings, was becoming increasingly negative. My integrity wouldn’t allow me to sacrifice my self-worth just to work for someone well connected and financially powerful. Emotionally I was exhausted and felt my passion for life draining away.
So I left to work in education that didn’t pay as much but is more spiritually rewarding. I learnt a valuable lesson – money will allow you to live in comfort but happiness is not guaranteed. Money only makes you more of what you are…..if you’re insecure and unstable, money will increase that and if you’re happy and content in your own way….money will increase that too.
I’m not saying that there are no good, affluent employers out there but it can be a different picture on the other side of the “unbroken” coin. Success and solvency doesn’t mean security and sanity! Some jobs will pay more than you think but look before you leap. The grass might be greener and the roses a deeper red but up close and personal…. there could be trouble in paradise.