My daughter and her friend were asked to work pouring drinks at a cocktail party for a woman the friend had met briefly — two hours for £20. Not great money, but not bad for pouring drinks, and with youth unemployment at 22% (as I keep reminding her), they accepted.


Here’s what happened.

They arrived a few minutes before 6:30pm at a very posh address near Hyde Park, where the door was opened by the French husband.

“You’re early,” he said, walking off and leaving them until his wife emerged from the shower. Wife had no idea how to use the cooker, but showed the girls a pile of hors d’oeuvres that needed to be heated up and arranged on plates. Beside that, she told them, they were required to greet guests, take coats upstairs, open and pour champagne and wine, take the food around, and make sure the glasses stayed filled.

For one hundred guests.

Two teenage girls.

My daughter had no idea how to open a champagne bottle.  Not surprising, given that she’s fourteen.

Three-and-a-half frantic hours later (“The guests were amazingly rude to us, but got a bit nicer as they got drunk”), the girls were sent on their way with £25 each.

“Don’t worry mum,” she said. “I learned a lot.  I had no idea people like that even existed.”





15 thoughts on “Too Rich and Too Mean.

  1. Maria 7 years ago

    I’m glad your daughter took it in good humour! Incredible but true, such people exist….

  2. bookwitch 7 years ago

    I don’t know how you can have brought her up not to know about opening champagne… Although, I had to send my son next door to learn the art of wine serving, and he got a very useful lesson that has stood him in good stead.
    The richer they are, the more stupid, mean and whatever else somes to mind, they are.

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      She knows now. Twist, don’t pull.

  3. Barbara Band 7 years ago

    An experience, true … but they were probably paid more than the minimum wage at 18 years of age. And whilst they maybe had no idea of how to open champagne bottles they would have probably had quite an enjoyable time (especially looking back over it) and considering this was casual employment with cash in hand, so if they f**ked up, then it really wouldn’t have made much difference in the great scheme of things! I have done all sorts of random jobs in my life from the age of 13 years when I worked in a Dry Cleaning shop for ther memorable sum of £1.50 for the whole day (admittedly this was in the 70s) and got high on cleaning fluid when there was a leak in the machine. Next time, tell your daughter to ask for £20 an hour … in advance 🙂

  4. Tony 7 years ago

    Not to defend the despicable employers, but surely this must have been a positive experience in all kinds of ways? Young people’s lives ought to be full of this sort of thing. Plus you got a nice blog out of it – I’d slip her a tenner for that.

  5. Stroppy Author 7 years ago

    A 14-year-old daughter who can’t open a champagne bottle?! You have been slacking in the parental duties, Meg!

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      She’s done it before and really enjoyed it. It was just being dropped in SO over her head and expected to do far too much that rattled her, and rightly so. On the other hand, I think the woman would have been pretty shocked to discover she was 14 (she doesn’t look it).

  6. Geraldine Brennan 7 years ago

    Job sounds like it would have been doable shared between six of them and the hosts should have opened the bottles and looked after them . I wouldn’t have had the social skills to cope at 14 (not sure I have now!) so they did well.

  7. C 7 years ago

    The people who matter don’t care; the people who care don’t matter. These people clearly don’t matter.

  8. Christina Wilsdon 7 years ago

    Your story reminds me of when I was a college student and I worked one summer at the school, with 2 weeks of my employment consisting of slaving all day at a writers’ conference–setting up and pulling down tables for all meals, washing all the dishes, cleaning the rooms, and in general being an all-around dogsbody. The attendees at the conference, all wannabe writers, NEVER acknowledged me as a human being or lifted a finger to help. One day, as I struggled to manhandle a large table all on my own, as all these people sat around being pretentious, just one person leaped to his feet and helped me. That person? A revered author, poet, and translator (who also happened to be the papa of a famous movie star)–the only “real” writer among the lot, in my opinion, and the only class act in the batch. I don’t have the gift of summarizing this in a maxim for the ages, but the essence of it all still resonates!

  9. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

    Love that story, Christina. Barbara Ehrenreich went undercover as a minimum wage labourer (as did Polly Toynbee in the UK, I think) and could walk right past people who knew them well, without being recognized.

  10. E.J. Runyon 7 years ago

    Remind her she can sock the memory away from later when she starts writing.

  11. Eliza 7 years ago

    Similar experience although I ended up spilling coronation chicken over some old guys trousers…

  12. Willow 7 years ago

    Wow that sounds awful I would have hated that I had a similar experience when I was 12 I went to a place called Deans Court its a mansion full f posh people it was alot of fun but pretending to be posh and being all polite for about 5 hours was terrible!

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