The New York Times home section provides the same service as the Wall Street Journal’s features section — it opens a window onto the unique problems of wealthy people. A recent example: How difficult it is to get specialized service personnel to work at your remote vacation house. As the man says, I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused.
Take today, for instance: Return from vacation. If you dare. Yet another piece on how hard it is to find good help these days, in this case housesitters. It turns out that once you turn the keys over to these temporary caretakers, they do all kinds of stuff you don’t want to know about. They drink your wine. They wear your underwear. And they take videos of your 37-pound cat and post them on the internet.
The cat video is disappointing, by the way. You really don’t get a sense of its size.
However, if you wish to mock, I recommend the whole story. There are some amusing anecdotes, the best about a rambunctious terrier named Taffy, a sadly deceased cat and the solution, which shouldn’t surprise anyone: The old switcheroo.
How was your Fourth? Mine was fine. Played a little, worked a little, saw “Ratatouille.” It was stunning; I was near tears over an animated rat and his search for artistic expression. Overheard outside the multiplex: “It’s like I felt emotionally attached to those robots, dude.” (Someone must have seen “Transformers.”) In the evening, we attended some friends’ fireworks show. Overheard after the fireworks, as the neighborhood resounded with mortar fire: “Listen to that. It’s like the people are giving it back to Bush for the Scooter Libby thing.” It featured illegal ones, safely deployed, and set me to thinking about mid-week Fourths, the ones that don’t stretch easily around a neighboring weekend. The work week moves at half-speed, and the Fourth is a feast of idleness. On one of these, years ago, a friend and I blew up a cake. The cake was for sale in a deli where he worked. Spectacularly ugly, decorated in a patriotic theme, it was unsold at closing time, so the owner told my friend to take it home and try to enjoy it. We did. We put a mystery explosive in it, one of those fat round things the size of a tennis ball, set it out in the back yard, lit the fuse and ran.
The explosion was deafening — evidently the firecracker was a version of those really loud things that signal the beginning of a municipal show. It blew a shallow crater in the yard, and needless to say, there wasn’t a scrap of cake to be seen anywhere.
And now it’s back to work, just in time for the weather to clear up and make me feel bad about staying inside. Maybe I’ll take the laptop to the deck.
Back later, perhaps.
Connie said on July 5, 2007 at 10:28 am
Not all vacation homes are owned by rich people. My dad has a small cottage at Glen Lake/Sleeping Bear. He bought it many many years ago and it is now worth more than 10 times what he paid. Ownership predates the establishment of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and the development of the hugely popular upscale Homestead Resort in nearby Glen Arbor.
As to finding service people, that’s never been a problem, as long as you are willing to put up with what is referred as an “up north time table.”
Not being rich people, our goal is to rent it out at least 4 weeks a summer, which raises just enough to pay the property taxes.
I don’t have a house sitter, but I do have a pool sitter. She loves it, takes off work and everything. Deal is you take care of the pool, you get to use the pool.
nancy said on July 5, 2007 at 10:33 am
True, Connie. But it’s unlikely your dad’s vacation home is packed with Viking appliances, for which is it nearly impossible to find a properly trained serviceman in remote zip codes. At least, that’s what I read in the Times.
Dorothy said on July 5, 2007 at 10:35 am
Thanks for the link to that article. After reading it, I can virtually guarantee you that I’ll ALWAYS be willing to pay $21 a day (or whatever fee they require) to board my dog at the kennel while I’m away!
brian stouder said on July 5, 2007 at 11:04 am
Cultural Alert: They ran 1776 last night (I tuned past it) – and then I read that it was the unexpurgated version, including the satirical number Cool Conservative Men (supposedly edited out by Jack Warner at Nixon’s request)
Connie said on July 5, 2007 at 11:12 am
Very true Nancy. Still have the brown refrigerator that came with it. Gas stove finally got replaced though so we no longer have to light the oven.
Marcia said on July 5, 2007 at 11:13 am
I was out of town when the big tsunami hit, so I did most of my reading about it in the NYT.
I remember the jarring juxtaposition of the stories of horror and loss placed next to adds for $10,000 fur coats. I was ashamed just reading the article.
nancy said on July 5, 2007 at 11:21 am
Marcia, that’s a regular reaction for me. The front-page stories of, say, teenage girls in Africa suffering untreated obstetric fistulas inevitably jump to the pages with the Van Cleef & Arpels ads for nine-carat diamond solitaires. It makes me squirm.
SusanG said on July 5, 2007 at 4:58 pm
I lived in Ann Arbor, had cats; Ann Arbor Cat Clinic was vet of choice.
That cat is positively anoerexic compared to the cats I saw at the clinic.
Ricardo said on July 6, 2007 at 7:07 pm
A woman I worked for had a 35 lb cat, but he wasn’t fat. He was very tall and very docile.