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Archive for February, 2010

#83 - Flying First Class

#83 - Flying First Class

Flying First Class
Price: Your First Born, Their Pocket Change

Flying isn’t natural. As they say, “If God had meant you to fly he would have given you wings”, Icarus learned this the hard way. Of course, when they said this, they were probably referring to economy class where the masses are crammed into uncomfortable seats with sweaty, broad shouldered, obese individuals who want to talk to you about their 2-star vacation or persistent skin rash that is likely contagious. If this situation is the bookend to your holiday or business trip, you are probably inclined to agree that mankind is better off on terra firma. While the rich certainly prefer the comforts of a private jet, when push comes to shove, a lie-flat seat with noise-reducing headphones, personal media players, fine dining, full bar and a curtain to separate you from the plebs makes commercial flights tolerable.

For the masses that feel they have won the lottery because they managed to “score” a seat in an emergency exit row, there is a belief that the seats on the other side of the curtain are prohibitively expensive because of the roominess and luxury. Rich people know that, while 40” of seat pitch is comfortable, the real reason to sit in first class is that one does not have to associate with people that can’t afford the finer things in life. After all, the food, personalized service and comfort are table stakes in the lives of the wealthy. First class seating is one of the few places that legitimize class segregation, making it extremely attractive to the rich. Having a boarding pass that reads 2B with a flute of champagne in hand is a wonderful reminder that while money can’t buy happiness, it can help you choose your misery which does not include spending time with individuals who think a timeshare is a good investment.

Naturally, if you want to make good with the wealthy the first option is to secure yourself a seat in first class. This can be done in a few ways; buck up for the extra few thousand dollars every time you fly, try to sweet talk the ticketing agent into upgrading you on every flight or start sleeping with a flight attendant. Of course, if you could pull off the latter two options with any level of consistency, you would likely already be on the road to success and riches and able to execute on option A. As back-up,the art of conversation to kick start a discussion with your wealthy counterpart will work wonders. Give your new friend an opportunity to dazzle you with their in-flight experience. Use informed inquiry about flying Emirates or United’s P.S. service while jet setting between the left and right coast and sit back and listen. Make this work and you may never have to hear the question “fish or chicken” again. Enjoy the friendly skies!

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#82 - Going To Harvard

#82 - Going To Harvard

Going To Harvard
Price: Developing a “Yahd” Accent

There is nothing rich people value more than higher education, right after money, jewelry and status. In most American households, the dream is to send at least one child to college. For the rich, they know that their children are destined for Ivy League institutions and for many, only Harvard will do. Among the myths that enshroud this venerable institution is that “Harvard is only for geniuses.” Upon meeting some of the “legacy family” undergrads you quickly dismiss this mistruth and realize that a family member with a Harvard degree from 1948 in Sociology may be more important that an outstanding SAT score when it comes to getting into Harvard, even if it is on the third or fourth admission review.

While the academic merits of America’s oldest university are clear to most, they are secondary to why rich people love Harvard; nothing says success like dropping the H-Bomb at cocktail parties. Yale is nice, and Brown used to be impressive but Harvard immediately implies that you have a great job, boatloads of cash and more class than anyone else in the room. In fact, rich people are so hyper aware of this perception that they will talk about graduating from their alma mater as though they accomplished something other worldly like smoking dope with the pope or going for a jog with Stephen Hawking.

If your parents didn’t have the foresight to graduate from Harvard and you had to slum it at a lesser known institution, fear not, you can still befriend the wealthy. Knowing that many trust fund recipients didn’t score a 1,400 on their SAT there is no need to engage in pseudo-academic discourse as they may not have made it to class anyway. Instead, learn the simplest facts about campus life. Ask about the COOP where you can pick up textbooks and a latte or mention cheeseburgers at Charlie’s Kitchen, which was probably the last time they stooped to eat a cheeseburger, but college is for experimenting. These two traditions should have your wealthy counterpart falling over themselves to share their experience with you and allowing you to form the next best thing to rooming with them. A word of warning, give a Harvard alum with a guilty admission complex too many drinks and you’ll be listening to their horror stories of growing up with Harvard armchairs and midevening calls from Harvard students looking for donations. It’s not easy being Crimson!

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