Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Lesson in Class from Hired Help

To have class means to have the ability to make everyone around you feel comfortable. That is one major component of being classy. No amount of Tiffany's pearls, designer clothes, and careful grooming can cover up pure class.

You either have it or you don't. Or you can learn to have it. Class.

How do you make everyone around you feel comfortable? For starters, you should treat everybody as you would like to be treated. Furthermore, you should think before you speak. Now get a couple glasses of truth serum in me and I am all like, "Your breath stinks." Not very classy.

I spent my entire college career working in a fancy five star French Bistro where two types of people came to wine and dine. Those well bred patrons wearing unassuming clothes with class and those whom draped themselves in pearls and perfume pretending class while belching out orders. Years before even having any children, I decided that I would be the former and so would my legacies.

Classy people make everyone around them feel comfortable. From the retired school bus driver who places the groceries in my minivan each week to the toothless woman that swept up the grounds of our Mexican resort on our vacation and everyone in between receives a warm smile and simple conversation from me. I teach my kids to do the same.

"What's your name?" Jay asked the grocery store clerk.
"Anna."
"Anna. That IS a great name." Jay smiled. "Mama, her name is Anna."
"I like it too. It rhymes with banana." Lola giggled.
"You are both right!" Anna's tired eyes connected with mine and she too smiled.

This weekend I was the hired help. And. People's true spirits really shinned. I was the photographer at a friend's relative's wedding. There were a handful of people, from our community, that were present. Neighbors, friends, acquaintances and PTA mothers enjoying a beautiful fall wedding. In. Our. Community.

One particular guest made me feel like true hired help. No hello. No wave. Not even making eye contact. My feelings were hurt. I waved to them. I stood next to them. My eyes smiled at them. They had dozens of opportunities to just wave like the handful of other classy guests that approached me smiling. This guest was busy smiling and talking away a storm with everyone else. And. I. I just wanted to be acknowledged, as I raced around the ballroom, acknowledged like she did to everyone but me. Being the ONLY person standing up I was definitely noticeable. There was no way anyone could have missed the pretty and sassy brunette in gold ballet flats. Ahem. This is my blog. I felt like hired help.

This just fueled my fire. However, it did help me as a mother to be reminded of my mission. To teach my children and lovingly guide them through life with confident class.

Besides. She must not have been going after the classy look after all. Because her dress and shoes? Not very appropriate for a Sunday luncheon wedding. I'm just saying, while on the topic of lessons in class, the heels were too high and the skirt too short and the perfume a bit too strong outside of a brothel. And that choker pearl necklace? So yesterday. Ahem. Still my blog and feeling much better after venting.

Carry on. You can find me still drowning amongst 18 months of undeveloped photographs.

81classy comments:

Crystal D said...

I agree totally, you can't fake class. You are not just teaching your kids to be classy, you are teaching them to be good people. Bravo to you Mamma!

BusyDad said...

#1 Class can't be bought
#2 Being able to get your jabs in on your blog is priceless

Sarah said...

I also feel this way about class. And it can go the other way around. We've all been in those shops where the snooty shop assistant looked you up and down and figured you weren't wealthy/fashionable/skinny enough to buy there, and ignored you. NOT classy.

So... who do you think is more classy: McCain or Obama?

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Isn't it funny - I bet if that bride had been classy at heart, she would have been able to pull off the fashion missteps. But being non-classy to the core makes the outfit just wrong!

Zoeyjane said...

Oh, it's really horrible, people who behave that way. Like seriously, regardless of class or money or pearls, how hard is it to smile at someone across a room. Geez.

Flea said...

Glad to see you surface for air. :) And maybe the floozy was having a bad day?

Now - resume your photo ... stuff.

Immoral Matriarch said...

I'm totally *not* classy, but I do make sure everyone knows that they're on the same level with me, no matter who they are. No one is beneath, and no one is above.

One love. :P

(Oh and Sarah? Obama is much more classy. And I'm not just saying that because I voted for him. He just is.)

Maura said...

The very best part of this post is your insistence on teaching your kids how to treat other people. There are very few more valuable lessons you can impart.

Beyond that, there is always one person who thinks their "stuff" don't stink and will treat everyone else like something on their shoes. Sadly, there are too many of them.

Rach (Mommy Learns to Blog) said...

The perfect definition of class from one of my classiest friends!

I love hearing stories of your children's comments/conversations. They are so clearly learning EVERYTHING you are working so hard to teach them!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I was a volunteer server at a fundraiser dinner a while back. Eye opening, I tell you, eye opening. I was flabbergasted at how rudely I was treated, and saddened to think that it would have been different if the patrons had known that the "help" were volunteer patrons.

Good post, OHmommy.

the planet of janet said...

you go, girl.

what you are doing for your children will take them far.

Kathryn said...

Class. You either have it or you don't. That is all there is to it.
Way to teach your kids class. I love it. :)

Huckdoll said...

Last week at work I seated a man (a haughty clothing designer) for a meeting and he completely waved me off as hired help - a receptionist or something. When I was the one who actually walked into the meeting and LED it, he sung a different tune. It was SWEET.

Seriously, I can't stand those people and often, I just feel bad for them...what a horrible way to live life. Plain old, bad karma.

Way to go for learning and gaining from it.

Lisa @ Take90West said...

I agree with busydad, class cannot be bought.
This was such a great post, I teach my children these same lessons only I tell them to practice kindness. From the lady who cleans our house to the elderly checker lady at the slowest moving grocery line, you are so right, everyone deserves to be noticed and appreciated. Especially sassy brunette photographers with cute shoes!

Now get those pictures done! I think it's funny that you are so stressed out by them. I don't even have one photo in my Flickr acct. tagged or labeled. :)

Rachel said...

Amen.

Class is learned, it is priceless beyond diamonds, rubies and gas (wink, wink)

You are uber classy, I would totally wave at you and then ask if I could follow you around to hopefully absorb some of your classy hotness.

CC said...

Class. You got it. Or you don't.

Hope I have it!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

You are so right, as usual. I try to treat everyone equally, and teach my kids to do the same.
Your kids will be awesome; they'll never be that skanky-dressed wedding guest.

Miss said...

Screw that bitch. You dont need her smile. I'll smile at you ALL day for free. *muah*

Jeni said...

And you know what? With an instructor like you for your kids, no way will they go wrong and be without "class!" Great job and excellent post about phony-baloney type people who think they are just a tad above everyone else! You still rule in the "class" department and do it without trying to flaunt it too! That's the best, most successful method anyway!

Vic said...

Your kids are gonna grow up so classy, because they've gone one classy mama to teach them. Shame that woman wasn't so lucky.

Tara R. said...

You could have out classed her in sweats and running shoes. There is no excuse for being rude to anyone. You are teaching your children an incredibly valuable lesson.

Tara R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chiloe said...

Very sad people behave that way. It should not hurt our feeling when they do but it's hard to avoid feeling hurt . YOu're a great mom ;)

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I actually feel sorry for people like this--they miss out on so much in life. You learn something from everyone you come into contact with no matter who they are. So sad they don't know this :(

I use my blog to vent about rude people's clothing choices too so nothing wrong with that ;)

Ellyn said...

I am guessing her mom wasn't classy and didn't teach her basic manners. It is sad that more people are like that than like you.

Rhea said...

Great post! Why people act like that, I don't understand.

Kel said...

That is a very meaningful lesson you are teaching your children, one that I wish more people would take to heart. And your right, class cannot be bought!

Have a great day!
~K

Tracey said...

Ah yes. Being an employee around those that are enjoying the activity. Yes... Brings out the true nature of some folks, doesn't it?

I just had a bit of a similar moment on my blog.... volunteering and all...

Courtney said...

Would it have been so hard to smile and say hello? I have made an effort to always do this and a friend of mine has too.

2 years ago she was robbed at gunpoint and right before he robbed her she smiled and said hello so she got a really good look at him. The cops said that is probably the only reason he didn't kill her. Two other people earlier in the evening were robbed and killed. Witnesses gave the same description she did so not only is it kind it could possibly save your life.

I may blog about this soon, hope you don't mind me stealing it. Let me know if you do and I won't.

Elaine A. said...

That is such a wonderful example to set. I was nodding my head at the first paragraphs because we strive to be the same way and regard every human, no matter their status, as our equal.

Sorry you weren't treated that way. Hope you still had a good time at the wedding (even though you were working!): )

Kimmylyn said...

Choker Pearls?? Um so ten years ago.. hhahahaha..

I am sorry you had to feel like this though.. Mean, class-less people really suck.

Elizabeth said...

such a great ettiquete lesson (did i spell that correctly?)...either way, great advice and it's great that you're teaching your children to beh classy-kids and that EVERYONE is important. i mentioned a friend of mine in my blog last week & this that had brain surgery...she taught me that I can learn something from EVERYONE, no matter who they are. I always think of that sentiment with I think of her...like a legacy. :-)

Stephanie said...

You go girl, I hear a chorus of "It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to, CRYYY if I want to...you would cry too if it happened to you!!!!" ;oD You've got class and that's all that matters!

Eve Grey said...

You're the bomb OHMommy, and don't forget it! (:

The White House said...

Great post. We have missed you, and your classyness. Way to go on teaching your kids class. I really try to do the same. I grew up in a very financially unstable home, from millionaire parents, to bankrupt and back again, and back down again. Class has so much more to do with your behavior than your social class. I am grateful my parents taught me...

And now the real issue. I know I can act classy at this gala benefit dinner that I am going to on Saturday, but what do I accessorize with? I still have my pearl choker packed up from my wedding years ago- don't worry. I am wearing a classic black dress (mostly b/c I am at that awkward stage in pregnancy where maternity clothes are too big and non-maternity dresses are a little snug).
Help! Or the choker comes out!

Indy said...

DYING to know who this was. DYING. No class here for asking. Ha!

Indy said...

I am trying to imagine who would wear such an outfit. Short skirt with high heels? Hmmmm????

Kaci said...

Oooo you go girl!

Mandy said...

Maybe she was just jealous of you because you are so "hot mama, in a classy way" and she was just "hoochie mama".

P said...

I sort of know that feeling. In our former town I was on every committee the school had, room mom, tennis captain at the club... now, in our new city, these moms won't even give me a "Hi." So unclassy.

Steph said...

I loved this post, it reminded me of the time my mother said she had just received the ultimate child rearing compliment. When I asked what it was she said a coworker of hers said to her "your daughter is so approachable and she treats the janitor or the CEO of a company with respect and makes each feel at ease.
I know what it is to be looked down on and I will not allow myself or those around me to treat others that way, everyone deserves to be treated with class and respect.I have tried to teach my kids the same values.

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

hope you feel better! - you remarks are classy!

renatamic said...

you either got it, or you don't. my mom always said that you can tell new money from old money...the new money tries way to hard to let you KNOW they have it. i believe the same can be said about class!! you, my dear...are money...old money and lots o' class! i, my bff, would classify myself as a sailor...me and my potty mouth are NOT so classy. but, the rest of me is just a tad bit classy (a ruboff of you, i'm certain).

Krystyn said...

Faking class is so unclassy.

I'm sorry that they made you feel like the help. That is so shallow.

Mama Smurf said...

One of my favorite sayings...

"The real judges of your character aren't your neighbors, your relatives, or even the people you play bridge with. The folks who really know you are waiters, waitresses, and clerks."

Don't know who said it but tis SO true!

And another favorite...

"There are two types of people--those who come into a room and say, "Well, here I am!" and those who come in and say, "Ah, there you are."

carrie said...

I know - "you can't buy manners" is one of my favorite sayings!

Don't worry, you know you out-classed that person 100%! :) Keep working on those photos!

Jaina said...

I seriously love this post. People like that really bug me, I'm glad you showed him that you were way classier than he'd ever be. I love that you are teaching your children to have class, so many people are without it these days. Your kids are very lucky to have such a wonderful, CLASSY mother.
Good luck wading through those photos, you can do it!

LceeL said...

I'll never forget the time my Dad looked at my Mom and asked, "Do you know why I love you?" and Mom asked, "Why?", and Dad said, "Because you are one classy broad." and blew it. The one thing you DON'T call Mom is a 'broad'. He ducked - and that's the only time I've ever seen her miss with her backhand.

Nan Patience said...

I wonder why you were so eager to have that person's acknowledgment.

I have come to assume that anyone I encounter, and even people I know and love, are incapable of doing much better than they do. I myself don't do as well as I should on occasion. I have sometimes read books on what to do when people are rude, modern manners, etc., for a little reinforcement! Teaching our children manners and concern for the feelings of others is important; they'll be better liked by wonderful people who appreciate that kind of thing. I guess we also have to acknowledge that there are a LOT more unpleasant, unhappy people out there than pleasant, happy ones, and we have to learn to protect ourselves and our feelings, too. * sigh *

Cecily R said...

Oh, I hope she was just having a bad day...if she lives most of her life like that I feel bad for her.

You on the other hand, don't need her. You've got class coming out of your ears. :)

The Gerster Family said...

I have worked "behind the scenes" my entire career, mostly for reasons you have stated. I don't want to become a fake classy, where I forget that everyone is equal. Also, because I always want a heart for service.

I do make a habit of calling people by their names (when wearing a nametag), exchanging frequent thank you's and hellos, and always offering a smile. I mean, seriously! How hard is it really?!

Thanks for your thoughts :)

beth said...

I just love the way you approach parenting.

I desperately needed this reminder about the greater purpose of mothering on this particular day, which has been all about the day to day frustrations.

Hailey said...

tell it like it is girlfriend... haha. you are one classy lady and i love it!

Allison Says said...

Um. Wow. That is *so* not classy.

You are so right about your observation of the two types of people: the real classy people and the "fake" classy people who think they are classy. The latter group infuriates me.

How exciting to be the photographer, though! That must have been fun. And I hope you didn't take a single picture of rude Mrs. UnClassy.

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

Well said!

kittyconcerto.com said...

I LOVE the lessons you are teaching your children (like always), but this one is excellent.

My family is *shudder* the latter group you speak of. And they constantly embarrass me. And because of their fake "class", I have vowed NEVER to be like them and treat everybody with respect. Seems simple.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

You either have it or you don't....you definitely have it and I am so glad you are teaching your children the importance of it!

So sorry that people act in this way...I am sure it was very uncomfortable for you!

So much for 6 weeks....hope you are making some progress with the piles of pictures

The Daily Stroll said...

I agree with you 100%! Why do people find it so hard to be nice?? It's so important to teach our children to show everyone respect whether it is the CEO of the company or the mail room clerk! Even a simple smile can make someone's day. I hope that I am instilling those values in Jonah!

Don Mills Diva said...

She clearly needs a classy boot in the arse.

kim-d said...

I think I've maybe said this before a time or two, but it bears repeating. I think you are the epitome of class, and I think the way your children look at life and people is an excellent reflection of that. How proud you must be of the wonderful little people they are. I think I can safely say that your children made "Anna's" day much brighter.

As for the guest-without-manners. Shame on her, and shame on her mother. In my estimation, it is even classier that you tried with her more than once. In my family, that is called "being raised right." Good for you!

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

You are so right about what makes a person classy.

It's a shame that guest made you feel like hired help. Not cool at all.

mommynotes said...

I have also felt like the hired help. I also worked retail. Those people definitely do not have class. I am so glad you are back I missed my morning sessions with your blog (you of course)!

mommynotes said...

Let me clarify my thought. Retail people are classy. The lady that made you feel like something on the bottom of a shoe is not classy. Nice post! I thought my comment may have sounded as though I was putting retail workers down. Definitely not. I worked it for a while in college for extra money.

Jane the Sane said...

The closing snark. Not classy perhaps but very satisfying. Good for you for teaching your kids to be friendly.

JCK said...

You know there is probably a place for a blog on manners. And this post and you would be perfect! :)

I agree with you 100%. You either have it or you don't.

Karen said...

I've never thought of myself as the classy type, for better or worse. I mean, I am the ultimate frumpy stay-at-home mom and love it. But making others feel comfortable around you? That's just common courtesy. I don't care who you are, there's nothing a sincere smile won't help.

Keri said...

I probably would never be considered 'classy'... esp. in my am attire...
But i do consider myself to have superb manners and i am teaching my children to respect all.
Hey, i guess i am classy!

moooooog35 said...

You can't spell "class" without "ass."

Just wanted to point that out.

Otherwise, it's not really pertinent to anything.

Marcy - The Glamorous Life! said...

Class and Glamour go hand in hand.

No amount of money can by 'class'.

And recently during a large event I photographed- there were these 5 drunk as a skunk (do skunks get drunk?) very wealthy woman who kept snapping their fingers and yelling 'photographer! Get over HERE. NOW!' ao I would go and do as I was told. After all. I WAS THE HELP. But ya know what? WHen those photos all went on line for viewing? You can be certain I included only the way unflattering photos. Including (and i am not kidding) shot of two of them running to the bathroom to throw up.

CLASSY.

Nina;-) said...

Hi,
Glad that there is actually other people out there that feel the same way, regardless of status in life.
Nina :-)

Blessings From Above said...

It is a HUGE pet-peeve of mine when I pass someone I know, no matter how little I am acquainted with them, and they do not say hi. A simple smile or nod takes absolutely no effort, but I am shocked at how often people seem to see right through others.

Bravo to you for teaching your children how to treat others with kindness. I think it is one of life's most important lessons.

Clare said...

love this post, so important to teach children kindness and being respectful of everyone. i love the jay and lola story at the grocery store!

UrbanVox said...

huahuahuahua...
Kids... :) TB once noticed that a guy at the supermarket had... well... a boner... and decided to ask with his outdoors voice (meaning loudly): "Why is the guy's "pirlim (the hay he calls it)" all angry?" whilst pointing at him...
Their timing is impeccable!
VERY Classy! :)

Me??? well... I just decided tat classy does not become me! :)

UrbanVox said...

I can;t believe I just made that comment...
I blame it on my tiredness... it makes me even less classy! :)

Elizabeth said...

I see people all the time who think that their clothes, the way they speak, where they are and what they are talking about makes them classy. I have always found it so surprising that they have not learned that the true element of class is not money. It is much more subtle. As you write, it's in your manner of treating others and your regard for what is going on around you. Sometimes, I feel that the true definition of class is being usurped by this new and false definition.

Lisa said...

You're so right - class is something you can't fake or buy. You, my love, are surely classy!

* TONYA * said...

You absolutely cannot fake class. You either have it or you don't. You OHmommy have class.

Elisa said...

I completely agree! I can't stand it when people speak unkindly to others, especially anyone providing them with a service! You should be thankful, you pompous ass.

April said...

Quite frankly, you're lucky there was only one! I'm glad to know that there are so many as classy as you.

Aleta said...

Excellent post! I'm so sorry that someone treated you that way. Nobody deserves to be treated as if they are "beneath" because of a job. My gosh..

I remember as a little girl, when Dad said he was getting ready to met with a bigwig corporate CEO. My eyes were wide and I said, "Are you nervous about meeting someone that important?"

He taught me a lesson that day with his words, "No. Everyone's the same. He's not better or worse than me. He puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like me."

That stuck.

Mary Anna said...

Amen, sister! I wished they taught a class in class. I've taught my boys that a high-five and a handshake can really make someone's day - from Bobby, the carry-out guy at our grocery store, to the guy who has a building named after him at our church. We're all people, and we all deserve to be treated like we're wonderful, important people.

 

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