Tuesday, April 16, 2013

365 Jobs: The Class System

Wednesday, April 16, 1986

The Class System

Mrs. E speaks with a British accent and carries herself with a royal air.  Her lavishly landscaped yard has a swimming pool fed by a waterfall that splashes from stacked rocks and ferns.  She has a view of the entire Silicon Valley.

I’m repairing a leak under her sink.  Her husband had worked on it.  Why oh why is this billionaire doing his own plumbing? 

Mrs. E asks, "Did my husband totally botch it?"

"Um, it's just, I think it would be better to replace the entire drain assembly."

"You're very tactful."  She laughs.  "Where do you live?"
“La Honda," I say, which is like saying I live on the poor side of the mountain.

“I like La Honda," she says kindly.  "It has such pretty views.”

“You’re not doing too bad, either,” I say.  It sounds wrong and immediately there's a chill, like I’m envying her obvious financial success.  "Your views," I say too late.  "You have pretty views, too."

"Yes," says Mrs. E.  And that's the end of chatting.

Her husband can't do plumbing, and I can't make small talk with a billionairess.  We both have limits to our expertise.  But I like it that he tries.  I'll keep trying, too.

The waterfall, I decide, is too tidy.  Too obviously placed there.  Lacking nature’s artlessness.  But then, I'm no expert.

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