“And then she introduced me to the butcher as her driver!” exclaimed Sakura.
“Oh no she didn’t!” I was shocked. My close friend, pianist Sakura Myers had been looking forward to a summer stay in the Berkshires. She would act as a “travel companion” to a seemingly nice elderly couple from The Upper West Side of Manhattan, and had instead been reduced to a role as a live-in servant.
“I mean the deal was, I would ‘help’ with the occasional household chore, drive them to the store, accompany them to classical music events and practice piano all day… those were literally the terms of our agreement.” Sakura, while wonderfully giving, is also a no nonsense, no holds barred woman who will let you know when you are treating her wrong.
“I don’t know what to say Sakura, I mean… you were so excited about all this, but in a selfish way, I’m really glad you’re back in the city for the summer.” I tried to reassure my utterly overwhelmed friend that she had made the right decision. After driving down from The Berkshires, my apartment was literally the first stop she made after dropping the elderly couple off at their penthouse palace.
“I know, in a way I’m glad about that, I’m just sad at how this situation turned out.” She went on to tell me about how the couple began commanding her to change and wash their sheets, drive them around and cook full gourmet meals for them. Sakura’s cooking is delightfully comparable to the cuisine found at Caravaggio and Cipriani… REALLY. “And then they began giving me orders ‘go fetch me the paper’… like I was a dog! I mean, I’m not usually one to play the race card, but I just felt like their servant! The funny thing is, they TOLD me that the young pianist who helped them out last year didn’t last… I should have known.”
“I can’t believe you drove them all the way back.” I was amused by the prospect of telling my employers that they’re treating me like a servant, quitting my job, and then having to drive Miss Daisy and her husband 155 miles. “You have a lot of chutzpah girl!”
“I just had to get out!” She cried. “Never, NEVER in my life have I been treated like that, and all I could think of was that story you told me about the wealthy Upper East Side couple dining with their nurse. I felt like that, I wasn’t their companion, I was their servant. Their servant who was allowed the luxury to be seen with them in public.”
Sakura was referencing an incident I experienced when an Upper East Side couple took me to dinner at an exclusive restaurant where our bill literally tripled what I pay in monthly rent. Before dinner the couple actually had me dress in a dinner coat and a French cuff shirt so I might “blend in”. After snickering with the maitre d’ about an ongoing incident one of my dinner hosts was experiencing with Barbara Walters, the conversation quickly turned to a young black woman who was dining with a wheelchair-bound elderly couple. “It’s a shame that SHE gets to eat this food” my dinner host scoffed. “I mean, it isn’t like she can actually enjoy it in the we all can.” This was probably one of the more uncomfortable moments in my life, and after three hours of pretentious snickering, I felt physically ill. I can assure you I am no longer in contact with this couple.
“But you’re not that Sakura, you’re a beautiful and talented person who deserves to be treated with respect” I reassured.
“Thank you, but I’m just really shaken” she said sadly. “Oh and the bathrooms! Their bathtub was leaking into my bathroom, and after a week of being told ‘the handyman is coming tomorrow’ they finally told me the truth that they didn’t want to fix anything in the house because they were trying to sell it.”
“Why are they so cheap?”
“Who knows! All I can say is that when I dropped them off, the doorman told me that he sees the same thing happen every summer and that he was proud of me for cutting the trip short.”
“So this happens a lot?”
“Apparently! And when I asked him why he didn’t tell me sooner he simply replied that it wasn’t his place because he was just the help.”