Social Norms in Privileged Homes

If all the world’s a stage, scene I opens up onto daily routines in an upper class life. The set is big. The props are expensive. The dialogue is comfortable and familiar to members of that class. You see an army of barely noticeable support workers moving through the scenes: nannies, drivers, personal trainers, pool maintenance workers, landscapers, housekeepers, drivers and chefs.

Members of the upper class know how to respectfully engage and manage a full cadre of workers meandering through their personal lives. There’s a fine line between acknowledging someone’s presence and interrupting their work. Workers aren’t rendered invisible, but close to it, since any one of them could be physically in the space where a father and daughter are having a sensitive discussion, or where a couple is simply talking about their day. For the privilege of having all that support, high status people have had to learn how to be families – to be intimate – when there is an outsider in their midst.

If we shift the lens and instead focus on the workers in this scene, we find another set of skills. They know how to move and act so as not to interrupt or distract. Eye contact is avoided. They know their role – and place – very well.

Two very different classes sharing space and time. A transaction.

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