There’s a young interior decorator at my office that’s caused quite a stir. He’s barely out of design school but somehow thinks he knows everything.
A group of us gathered last night at Lure to say farewell to a fellow coworker, and he was the hot topic of conversation. There was endless recounting of every pretentious, silly thing he’s said, how clients have tolerated him and then snubbed him, and his unending sense of entitlement.
I have the unfortunate experience of having to work closely with his guy, who I’ll call Thomas. Through the day, I send my peers emails titled ‘Working my One Last Raw Nerve’, ‘No, Really, I Can’t Stand It’ and ‘Put Me Out of My Misery, I Beg of You’.
Despite all my experience, I’d been relegated to ugly stepsister. Conference calls are shouting matches – Thomas tries to take over by bombarding everyone with useless questions. Afterwards, I take an Advil. I’m trying to take this as a challenge, where I stop playing nice, but it ain't easy.
I should be used to this behavior. My industry, the industry of high end hotels and beautiful homes for terribly wealthy people, is rife with divas. You have to have some gumption to advise how a person should live, what their living room should look like, or which tassels to purchase for their 12 foot curtains.
But there are divas who have opinions and talent and good taste, and there are divas who try but can’t deliver. We tolerate and come to love the first kind, but have no patience for the second.
My friend Nancy works at another design office. Many of her clients are movie stars and moguls, and her boss is the President of the National Diva Association.
Nancy tells stories about the latest escapade - how her boss threw a tantrum over slightly mismatched hand towels, or the late delivery of a vase, or scuffmarks on the floor. Nancy does raspy imitations that make me laugh, but I know the reality is excruciatingly stressful - the diva barks the orders while the minions scurry around. It is not a democracy.
On shows like Top Design and Top Chef, you see the same stuff – self-assured, opinionated, high performers looking down on their peers.
The quest for perfection and the competition bring out the worst of people. Drama makes for good tv and good late night chatter, but like many experiences, it’s all funny until it happens to you.
Photo by Sorgine. For more great images, click here.