During a conversation today with an old friend, the topic turned to money and power - specifically how money and power affect the way people deal with and treat others. This is something I see occasionally with a few of the older doctors, this power that they feel is due to them. Most of the younger ones don't have that bent, thank goodness, so it's not usually a factor. Some nurses make it their business to straighten that bent out of any uppity docs, and I say more power to them. I work in a department where it isn't a factor, bless the stars. But I sure do remember what it's like.
If you want to see firsthand how absolute power corrupts absolutely - go work in television or film. I've got a million stories and they all send my blood pressure skyrocketing. But it can happen anywhere and in tons of different ways. I'll never forget one regular customer we had when I was a waitress. I worked in an affluent town and she was a trust fund babe. She came in regularly with her husband and she always spoke through him. I'd go to take the order and she'd tell him what to tell me. If I'd ask her a direct question ("blue cheese or ranch?"), she'd look at him and say, "Tell her I'll have the oil and vinegar". Every time she did that it would make my eyeballs burn, but she never deviated from her pattern. We were simply beneath her. A totally different class. And she had no qualms about letting us know about it.
But my classic story about this sort of behavior comes from my Paramount days. The artist still being known as Prince was scheduled to appear on The Arsenio Hall Show, and the day before his appearance, his people sent out a memo to all of us who would typically be on the stage before and during the show. The memo was short and to the point. No one was allowed to look at Prince, and it was expressly forbidden that he would be looked in the eye. Anyone within a certain range (I can't remember exactly what) was instructed to look at the ground until he passed by. Violators would run the risk of termination.
My boss read the memo with trepidation in his voice. And when he was done he told me and my office mate, my best friend there, that we wouldn't be going up to the stage that particular day. He said we could go home early with pay and then he delegated our jobs to two more sedate people in the department. When asked why, all he would say is that he knew us both far too well. We argued strenuously, to no avail. We promised that of course we'd follow the rules. I never even mentioned the line that popped into my head immediately, attributed to Roseanne Arnold during a recent feud with The Purple One, when she said he looked exactly like he'd been dipped in pubic hair. Our restraint went unheeded and my boss had the last word.
So I never got to see Prince in person.
But I did get to keep my job.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Posted by the rotten correspondent at 12:02 AM