the emmys, the met gala, and the obama birthday party revealed disturbing treatment of workers. staffers were forced to wear masks while the guests were are all maskless. the message was clear. there are the celebrities and the ruling class that are free in society and there are the others who are serve their needs in anonymity.
the days of classy celebrities perhaps have passed. i wish to share a four decades old story of one of the greatest.
childhood jobs in my family were encouraged. as early as the age of 14, we were out and about with part time jobs. catering was one of them.
i served an event for the late great comedian don rickles. mr. rickles had many celebrity friends who attended. as catering staff, we were specifically instructed that there would be no gratuities and to simply be “great help.”
i was assigned a table. with my luck, there was one celebrity seated. being professional, i did not acknowledge him. rather, i worked the table and assisted all with their needs.
at one point, the celebrity pulled me over and asked me my name. i replied. he told me that it was his name as well. he then pointed to his coffee cup and asked me in a polite manner, “please make sure, at all times, that the cup is filled to the top and hot.” the celebrity was ed mcmahon. he thanked me.
ed mcmahon’s resume is one of the most impressive in hollywood: legendary tonite show announcer, the star search host, and the guy who brought the oversized checks to people’s houses when they won a publishing sweepstakes.
ed mcmahon’s long term success was in part due to his deep understanding of how to relate to people. he took the time to connect to me. he viewed the help as real people. he made me as part of his team. he was gracious and appreciative. he was so impressionable to me the point that i remember the incident from over 40 years ago like it happened yesterday.
in sum, for those in the upper class, there is much to be learned from a man who had a lot of class.
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