Manners & Misdemeanors

Truly Rich People Allow Everyone to Ride In the Same Elevator, Says the Truly Rich Lady

In the gloom of the moment, what we don’t need are more walls or little doors or, in this case, separate elevators.
ILLUSTRATOR SANDY ARANAS
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Of the many places I have lived, I miss the very old house of ours in the very, very far away place from whence the Coos came. It was a traditional bahay na bato with stone slabs, smooth and worn from decades of wear, set on the ground level. There, a working kalesa (the horses lived on another lot) rested alongside a stockroom of jars filled to the brim with kitchen ingredients and various treasures.

The upper floors, covered on all corners with ventanas and ventanillas, is where the family lived. The pianoforte there was older than sin, they used to say—and I never found out what that meant, but from its ivory keys came the sound I associate with the opening of the heavens.

I imagine Old Cook not budging, too, if made to use another set of elevators in a building just because she works, not in a corner office, but in the kitchen—which I've learned is the case now at different upscale condominiums.

One of the more curious things in the house, aside from the creepy, life-size statues of Mary, Jesus, and company, were these small doors set cleverly into the walls so that they appeared as part of the walls themselves. When I asked my parents what they were for (“Mama, are they for tiny people?”), she said, “Oh, that’s where fairies come from.” Naturally, I turned the knob, thinking the door a gateway to a magical place. But what I discovered was a cramped space that webbed throughout the house. Also, that was the day I found out that was severely allergic to vintage dust.

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Lines were drawn like a knife’s edge in that long ago time when the house was at its peak. The path of a well-heeled master was never supposed to be marred even by the breath and more so the presence of a scullery maid, and so there were the doors in which the servants appeared and disappeared like fairies who provided every comfort to the great people they watched over.

I imagine this was a practice inherited from the great houses of Europe. Those houses required a battalion of workers to run, and so needed a second staircase and hidden doors so that the messy running of the house was hidden from the eyes of the lords and ladies.

What we need to do is to ride the same elevator, acknowledge each other briefly (a smile or hello would do) because that's what decent people do, and then enjoy the rest of very short ride in silence or drowned in jazzy tunes.

That was just the way things were then. But, the thing is this: That was a custom of the past. I can’t imagine my Yaya Martha or Old Cook scurrying in and out of those hidden doors today. It is because Yaya Martha would never fit because her indulgence is pan de coco and also Old Cook would raise hell about using a made-for-maids door. If forced to do so, she would threaten to never cook my breakfast eggs how I like them: runny.

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I imagine her not budging, too, if made to use another set of elevators in a building just because she works, not in a corner office, but in the kitchen—which I've learned is the case now at different upscale condominiums.

Old Cook might ask if this was a dream, or if this was a flashback, or if this was an elaborate joke, and then proceed to slap, maybe, the overzealous security guard with a bunch of organic kale in her bayong. Old Cook enjoys both dry humor and slapstick comedy, you see.

And I can so relate, too. I mean, I would get angry if someone insisted I use the special VIP door when what I want to do is use the regular boring door, because I like to be one with the people.

I doubt that the mixing of income brackets will cause any infraction in that brief time, especially if everyone in the small space promises to act like a human being and is respectful and courteous. 

Anyway, I am still surprised and appalled, even in this very weird time that we live in—at a time when unjust things can just happen because of the whims and fancies of a few—that obsolete practices like this are being brought back from the dead.

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In the gloom of the moment, what we don’t need are more walls or little doors or, in this case, separate elevators. What we need to do is to ride the same elevator, acknowledge each other briefly (a smile or hello would do) because that's what decent people do, and then enjoy the rest of very short ride in silence or drowned in jazzy tunes.

That's all. Easy. I doubt that the mixing of income brackets will cause any infraction in that brief time, especially if everyone in the small space promises to act like a human being and is respectful and courteous.

Sometimes, the powers that be, the rulemakers, are disastrously out of touch, and so need a reminder by those with more power, which is you. If you are outraged by an unjust practice, put it on the record and make your displeasure known. Get a bunch of organic kale, wave it at their faces, and speak loudly: “I do not like small doors nor service elevators!”

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About The Author
C.C. Coo
The Truly Rich Lady
C.C. Coo—also known as Town&Country’s Truly Rich Lady—is not a professional seeker of leisure as many people wrongly assume, for she has a real-life occupation: a SHE-EO of Important (Sub)Company of an Empire, for which she works very hard to make sure that the people in her care are not left wanting. She believes that manners are utterly important: “If society is like one of those costume jewelry pieces worn by Jackie O or Diana, manners would be the glue that keeps the veneer of a most beautiful thing from falling apart,” she says.
View Other Articles From C.C.
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