Monday, February 5, 2007

Profiles of Expats - The Class Act

This is the third in a series on Profiles of Expats. I hope to show the good, the bad and the ugly side of expat personalities. You may know them, you may have seen them or you might be one yourself.

Disclaimer: I have lived as an American Expatriate for more than 10 years in several locations and come across numerous “characters” in my travels. However, this is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

The Class Act

She won’t associate with anyone who’s not at her husband’s level in the company, consequently no one knows much about her, but she’s infamous throughout the expat community. She’s the one you call on to offer help when she first arrives and she snidely turns you down (cause you’re not good enough for her). Of European descent (AKA Eurotrash), true to form claiming lineage from some obscure royal family - the French and Northern Italians are brilliant at this. She’s extremely pretentious, haughty and overly concerned with prestige. Usually Naff and doesn’t realize it – but aren’t we all now? Demands service at once! Picked up bad habits from British lower middle class hubby, of snapping her fingers whilst calling out “serviettes here” at the dinner table, instead of just asking for napkins. Hyper concerned about table manners – but still doesn't know how to hold a knife and fork per continental (AKA neo-British) rules. Other pathetic habits she picked up are, referring to parties as “functions” and whispering inaudibly at the dinner table. Her husband wears a Rolex, which he fiddles with a lot (show off). She will kiss up to anyone she thinks is at her level or above, even if it’s the business’s main competition. Agrees with executive wife non-stop constantly repeating, “quite right” like a broken record. She might start dressing, doing her hair like and hanging out so much with the executive wife, they become known as “the twins.” She’s a career climbing whore, but not for herself, for her husband. (This is getting perverse.)

The expat community is small and petty. This includes the domestic staff who’re just as gossipy and the best people to go to when you really need a good scandal to get you through the day. And so what you hear is thus: She’s impatient; has a habit of firing staff at rapid speed, often going through several maids per year and dozens of drivers during the same period. Maids are never allowed outside the villa and drivers stand outside, regardless of weather, all day long awaiting her next command. Workers are highly expendable. Uses a variety of excuses for worker firings, none of which are true. Has a habit of verbal abuse if riled. Is easily annoyed with the trials and tribulations of daily life and “running a proper household”. Very private, yet due to her sackings and behavior, through whispers mind you, she becomes something of an expat urban legend – rumored to have affairs with tradesmen because she has grown to like it on the rough side, but career oriented husband is just too busy. Still, God help the poor plumber who tries to unplug her pipes. Sightings of her may strike fear and loathing (and possibly but more likely just nausea) in the beholder. Seen only in public when out with the Excutive Wife, who is mortified of her presence (and the fact that they look like misfit twins).

Affects a British accent when trying to get her point across. Will stab you in the back, in front of you, with no reservations. Can be very aggressive, particularly if she's near the Executive Wife. Warning of attack: crunching of the nose along with vivid snarled sneer, and stiffly talking from one side of mouth. Has not only helped husband shove his head farther up bosses rear, but is intimately familiar with how much sherry and quiche went into Executive’s wife’s digestive system that A.M.

Favorite saying: “You are dust,” and “quite right!”

Favorite sport: Hiring new help.

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