UnderCover Waitress: Nouveau Riche

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nouveau Riche

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I despise the nouveau riche. Let's be clear: nouveau riche ("NV") is not an amount of money. It is an attitude. There are plenty of rich people who are not NV. The stereotype is that poor people who are able to make money and become rich are NV. They have money, but no class.

The United States of America is not a classless country; elementary school teachers are simply wrong about this. We have rejected a monarchy (but our media can't get enough of an English wedding, WTF?) but we still have class based upon money, education, type of work and sometimes even religion and race. Please don't think I am saying that this is good; I am saying that we think or pretend we don't have a class structure when we actually do.

So, what is class? I know people of modest means with what I call "class." I see it as a way of behaving and interacting with the world. Polite = class. Considerate of the feelings of others = class. True class is less likely to make a scene, but will work within the system for the best results. True class is not ostentatious. True class has at least a modicum of intelligence.

The NV think that class is all about money. NV have an attitude that having money makes a person superior. The NV have a specific value system that favors ostentatiousness and wants to show off their material wealth. NV lacks personal class.

We have a regular couple that are NV. I'll call them The Captain and Tenille, not there is any resemblance to the musical duo. Any time they are to grace us with their royal presence, they make a reservation and the best table in the restaurant is reserved. We set up The Captain's favorite wine on the table, and make sure there is plenty of back-up. Nothing wrong with this so far.

However, they waltz in as if they own the place, moving slowly enough as to call attention to themselves as they look around the restaurant and parade to their specially prepared table.


Tenille seems to have eating disorder issues. She is pencil thin and will order the same salad and cup of soup each and every time. She may not even finish it. Her hair is dyed and frames her bony face in a dry, limp, unhealthy mop. The botox and face lifts limit her ability to make facial expressions. She teeters in on four inch heels; she is so skinny that on those heels she reminds me of acrobats who walk on extremely tall stilts, but with Tenille the acrobat is missing and all I see are the stilts.

They love wasting food. They'll do things like order dishes for the table, eat half of everything, and not want to take the other half home. Remember, these are locals; they have a refrigerator at home. They just want us to know that they are so rich they can afford to throw food away. I think wasting food is a sin and it disgusts me.

They always request specific waitresses, and their favorites tend to hate them. When they come to dine, the favored one is stuck in their section. (It is, however, a good section.) They will take up the table all night long. While they tip 20%, the value of that table plummets if they are expected.

They are also notorious for showing up later than they said, further tying up the table. I think they assume that if they are coming in at all, they own the table all night. We are just the hired help.

I had the honor of waiting on them one night not too long ago. They were a party of four; they brought a younger couple in with them after a day of shopping. None of the bags were left in the car, which says to me they wanted to show everybody that they had been spending money all day.

The young man, their guest, was grandiose and spread his large body out. While I don't fault somebody for being big and wanting to be comfortable, I did resent the fact that he stuck his massive foot up on his knee so that the dirty sole of his shoe blocked my entrance to the table. I am short, which is beside the point, but that shoe made it impossible for me to place dishes on the table without wiping his dirt on the front of my apron.

I gave him a look to quietly and politely indicate the situation, and he moved his foot for me. Seemingly no problem, but the Captain gave me a haughty, offended look and young man stuck his boot right back where it was. I am the hired help, they are the royalty. See, this is what lacking class is. They are immune to needs of anybody else. Ain't emotional labor fun?

When it came time to clear all of the uneaten food, the Captain and Tenille made a point of letting me know that they did not want to bring food home, but checked with their guests to see if they would like to bring leftovers home. Of course, I got to throw all of the leftover food away.

Entitled, obnoxious, ostentatious, inconsiderate and self-important people are NV.

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Anybody who performs service must read this book about emotional labor:








Also, as much as I despise the NV, Anorexia and it's ilk are not jokes. Further reading if you are interested:

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