Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Butlers: It's Not What They Do - It's Who They Are

Teachers: It's not what they do, it's who they are.  - Vice President Biden, 2016 Democratic National Convention

Within milliseconds after Vice President Joseph Biden spoke those very words, less than one hour ago, I could not help but think of the Butler colleagues I've been both humbled and honored to know over the past 27 years, those persons within that very special niche within the domestic service industry which, for all intents and purposes, would never do anything else for an occupation of their time than butling; lifelong service workers with a penchant for service beyond the standard requirements for most domestic workers, service which is written into their DNA and who, identical to the teachers Mister Biden referred to, are not simply doing a job.... yet are those persons being a job.

Mister Biden, in his inspiring speech to the nation, was referring to teachers who, as a group, are so incredibly dedicated to their craft, that they often choose to reach into their own pockets and purchase pencils and other classroom supplies for those whom they care about so deeply, and because their own employers have not provided enough resources for them to get through the day.

Incredibly, there are no Butlers - and I single out this niche of private residential estate Butlers specifically - who I have met during my career, who have not done the very same thing at one point or other in their own careers, proud service workers who have had no hesitation whatsoever to reach into their own pockets and using or loaning their own personal resources if needed, in addition to a multitude of other personal sacrifices provided on short notice in order for their employers' evenings to be carried off without a hitch, in order to be as successful as possible in the event and without any inconvenience or delay to any and all guests concerned.

This is the unique life of the Butler, and I question those marketeers who've come along in recent years and claimed that Butlers are supposedly of the past, and now, supposedly - if enough people are willing to spend their life savings to purchase a "Household Manager" training certificate - those persons will be somehow of greater professional stature than Butlers by having a supposedly more updated, or supposedly more relevant, or supposedly more American, or supposedly more hip or cool job title than that of Butler printed onto their certificate of completion.


We own the finish line, reveals Vice President Biden during the final few seconds of his rallying speech to the nation.  

And so does the history, the present moment, and the future of our domestic staff citizenry, to the Butlers who have served honorably for the past four centuries and will continue for at least four centuries more. Because authentic, wholly committed service to both the Principals and their craft is not simply what Butlers do for a job.

It's who they are.

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