Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • I work for the one percent.
    I work with my husband and sometimes with a company. We make furniture, repair antiques, and practice antiquated specialty methods of maintaining our client’s homes and furnishings.
    We have a workshop in our home but we also make house calls.

    Some of our clients have offered us water or coffee, made us lunch, had us stay in their homes, their guesthouse, put us up in motels, flown us to country homes on occasion. Some clients have house managers or housekeepers who take care of all of those arrangements.
    They treat us with respect and are interested in what we do.

    Sometimes we work on construction sites.
    The schedule is always tight and multiple trades compete to occupy the same corner of the home. Someone can show up and start installing wires right where you happen to be staining a bookcase.

    Construction sites with private land usually provide a port-a-san for the workers to use, the crews are large and the conditions get rank. But in the city that is not possible, you must have a toilet on location.
    On one job, the site manager installed a brand new seat on the toilet and announced that we, the entire crew, had to go to the basement for facilities. That was fine for a week and then the building super announced that we were not welcome to use the building bathroom.

    We were told to use the public bathroom at the Guggenheim museum, 8 blocks away. Rain or shine. The Guggenheim is a large modern building with very small bathrooms. Sometimes the bathroom was already occupied or there was a line.

    When the construction phase of the work was over the crew left but I stayed on to finish up. The client provided me with water, let me use the bathroom, conversed with me, and when I was ill she sent a card to wish me well.

    There was one person I worked for who was so one percent that his hair was as famous as himself. He was so one percent that the building he lived in occupied a city block and he occupied the top three floors. He was so one percent that his Family name was raised in large gold letters on the front of home. So one percent that he is a trademark personality.

    We were called in to fill the gaps that had opened up at the top of the columns that lined the entrance hall.
    The gaps had occurred because the movement of the tall building was enough to move the columns; they were to be filled with silicone caulk and covered with 24- carat gold leaf.

    After a couple of hours of work I asked the house manager where the bathroom was.
    “You have to take the elevator down to the lobby, there is a public atrium there, you can use that bathroom.”
    The lobby was 66 flights down and a walk from the elevator to the atrium. It took over half an hour to go and come back.

    In the front hall of this grand home—that resembled a casino—there was a long wall, made of stone, with a long marble trench in front.
    “It’s a fountain,” the manager told us.
    One day the client was coming home and a swarm of security men came through in advance. They had little radios on their jacket lapels and talked to each other.

    “He’s in the elevator now, turn on the fountain.”

    Suddenly the wall of stone was illuminated from behind, becoming translucent. With a great whoosh a waterfall of water cascaded down the front of the wall into the long marble trench.
    It was meant to be opulent.
    It sounded just like a flushing toilet.
    • Share

    Connected stories:

About

Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.