What To Do When People Mistake You For Being Poor (When You're Truly Rich)

If you are Truly Truly Rich, would it bother you if someone thought you were not?

At a pretentious organic healthy store in a hippie-crystal-wellness-gluten-free building, I witnessed a dear friend of mine becoming the unwilling subject of wealth profiling. I know Linda and her Truly Rich Family. They prefer to stay under the radar. No one knows who they are or what they look like. In fact, on the Forbes list of Truly Rich Richfolks, her father possesses the most coveted status of all: an icon as a profile picture, because they are that kind of quiet wealth.

So it comes as no surprise that Linda, on that day, did not appear like most people’s idea of what a Truly Rich Lady looks like. My friend, Truly Rich Linda, was wearing an outfit so nondescript, it’s almost magical: a tan sack, flat shoes in the appealing color of mud with a beige liner sock that you can see, and her favorite very large whatever bag.

Anyway, the sales associate was hovering too close to Linda. Pretending to read a brochure, the sales associate was monitoring Linda’s every move, as if she was a would-be thief. Little did the sales associate know Linda can very well buy the store’s entire inventory, the store itself, and also the building.

I admire the patience of Linda, whom I know knew what was happening. Even if the salesperson was crossing the line, my friend did not lose her temper nor proceed to whip out a thick wad of money (she always pays in cash, whatever the amount) and slap the clerk right then and there. I would have, but I do not carry cash.


Here’s the catch: If you are Truly Truly Rich, would it bother you if someone thought you were not? And if you do mind that someone treats you so un-specially, because they think you are money-challenged, does that mean that you are not Truly Truly Rich?

You know those hardworking souls who hand out real estate pamphlets in malls? They’re like gnats, always buzzing around you, repeating the same script, urging you to please check out the soon-to-rise luxury apartments somewhere out there. What if, one day, they pass you over because they've decided that you must not be within the income bracket of their fancy digs? Will you be peeved? They gave your Truly Rich Best Friend a lot of attention, and she took the bait and made an appointment to look at the show space. Meanwhile, you were shut out! Maybe your hair was a little off that day? Mother took the Dyson on her trip.

And what of this: At a party to launch something, the busybody PR person or brand director or host is happily talking to you about this and that—until a more important person (in her mind) walks in the door, and then suddenly she’s gone. Your imprudent companion excused herself with such speed that she left a silhouette of cloud just like in those old-style cartoons. What a hoot!

There is thrill in the reveal, so you can always make yourself known. The expression on the face of the salesperson, the very one who did not entertain your inquiry about the limited edition hand-painted plate set, when he realized who you really are was priceless. The lovely owner of the hybrid décor shop and restaurant emerged from the back room to help pick out the plates himself. He even gave you a discount (not that you needed it!). When that happened, the salesperson began bowing and kowtowing, and all was right in the world again. You deserve to be treated well always.

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But I think that’s just cruel. It is really, really cruel to foist your Truly Richness upon someone who has made the mistake of not knowing who you are. After all, they are just doing their job: being snooty. The only thing to do is to be good and proper and understanding because that’s how Truly Rich Ladies are. Right?

That’s no fun. The devil on your shoulder is planting naughty ideas in your head, and you, after a few more eye rolls from the offending party, succumb. Sometimes, you just have to do it—and do it in a spectacular Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman moment. Return the next day and tell the overzealous hovering sales associate that she can go home now and never come back. You don’t need her assistance or service anymore, because you have acquired this stinky health shop and will be converting it into a friendly cat cafe.

That’s what Linda did.

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C.C. Coo
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