Being Pampered

My daughter Jessica gave me David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again for my birthday and I've been reading the essay that gives the title to the book this week. This bit has been rattling around in my head since I read it a few days ago:

… so I come out and spot my duffel among the luggage, and I start to grab and haul it out of the towering pile of leather and nylon, with the idea that I can just whisk the bag back to 1009 myself and root through it and find my good old ZnO and one of the porters sees me starting to grab the bag, and he dumps all four of the massive pieces of luggage he’s staggering with and leaps to intercept me. At first I’m afraid he thinks I’m some kind of baggage thief and wants to see my claim-check or something. But it turns out that what he wants is my duffel: he wants to carry it to 1009 for me. And I, who am about half again this poor herniated little guy’s size (as is the duffel bag itself), protest politely, trying to be considerate, saying Don’t Fret, Not a Big Deal, Just Need My Good Old ZnO. I indicate to the porter that I can see they have some sort of incredibly organized ordinal luggage-dispersal system under way here and that I don’t mean to disrupt it or make him carry a Lot #7 bag before a Lot #2 bag or anything, and no I’ll just get the big old heavy weather stained sucker out of here myself and give the little guy that much less work to do.

And then now a very strange argument indeed ensues, me v. the Lebanese porter, because it turns out I am putting this guy, who barely speaks English, in a terrible kind of sedulous-service double-bind, a paradox of pampering: viz. the The-Passenger’s-Always-Right-versus-Never-Let-A-Passenger-Carry-His-Own-Bag paradox. Clueless at the time about what this poor little Lebanese man is going through, I wave off both his high-pitched protests and his agonized expression as mere servile courtesy, and I extract the duffel and lug it up the hall to 1009 and slather the old beak with ZnO and go outside to watch the coast of Florida recede cinematically à la F. Conroy.

Only later did I understand what I’d done. Only later did I learn that that little Lebanese Deck 10 porter had his head just about chewed off by the (also Lebanese) Deck 10 Head Porter, who’d had his own head chewed off by the Austrian Chief Steward, who’d received confirmed reports that a Deck 10 passenger had been seen carrying his own luggage up the Port hallway of Deck 10 and now demanded rolling Lebanese heads for this clear indication of porterly dereliction, and had reported (the Austrian Chief Steward did) the incident (as is apparently SOP) to an officer in the Guest Relations Dept., a Greek officer with Revo shades and a walkie-talkie and officerial epaulets so complex I never did figure out what his rank was; and this high-ranking Greek guy actually came around to 1009 after Saturday’s supper to apologize on behalf of practically the entire Chandris shipping line and to assure me that ragged-necked Lebanese heads were even at that moment rolling down various corridors in piacular recompense for my having had to carry my own bag. And even though this Greek officer’s English was in lots of ways better than mine, it took me no less than ten minutes to express my own horror and to claim responsibility and to detail the double-bind I’d put the porter in—brandishing at relevant moments the actual tube of ZnO that had caused the whole snafu—ten or more minutes before I could get enough of a promise from the Greek officer that various chewed-off heads would be reattached and employee records unbesmirched to feel comfortable enough to allow the officer to leave and the whole incident was incredibly frazzling and angst-fraught and filled almost a whole Mead notebook and is here recounted in only its barest psychoskeletal outline.

I made you all wade through that classicly dense DFW prose not to convert you to Wallace (which you should consider doing on your own terms), but because it tees up the conversation I want to have here today so perfectly.

You see, I hate to be pampered. When I check into a hotel, I want to take my bags to my room. I want to carry my golf clubs out to the range. I want to open my own yogurt (which they would not let me do in the Mandarin Oriental in Chiang Mai, Thailand). I want to get my own beach towels at the pool, etc. etc.

So why is that? I asked Jessica this morning. What causes this discomfort with being pampered (which is all about creating comfort)? She replied "guilt?". To which I nodded, "I guess so". But it's more than that. I can do these things. I can take care of myself. I don't want or need someone doing them for me.

But as Wallace points out, the people whose job it is to pamper you want to do their job and want to do it well. Which creates a challenge for people like me who don't want to be pampered. The older I get and the more set in my ways and the more pampering I encounter, the worse it gets. I suppose I should just learn to love it. I will work on that. 

#Random Posts#Travel

Comments (Archived):

  1. John Saddington

    I think well-designed applications do this in some ways – they “pamper” the user with features that make sense that may even give the guise that they are doing it themselves, almost magically.give the user the perception of control while maintaining an excruciatingly-awesome (and controlled) UX in the back. Apple has setup an environment with their “closed” sandbox of sorts optimizing user-behavior and demanding developers play nicely while the end-user benefits immensely.

    1. fredwilson

      that never bothers me. which explains a bit more about my discomfort with being pampered by people.

      1. John Saddington

        hah. you and most every other digital native…on a side-bar… no pressure here whatsoever, but are you still thinking about a move to WordPress?

        1. fredwilson

          Not really. Its work I don’t want to do, oversee, or think about

          1. John Saddington

            Totally legit!

          2. LE

            While making progress is certainly important I feel you are correct in terms of weighing the downside of a change vs. the upside.Note that anyone encouraging you has pretty much an upside and not much downside compare to you personally.

  2. JamesHRH

    Fred, you do not want to turn into a graceless, crotchety old bugger who tilts at these ID blown windmills.Roll with it.DFW should have pulled the ZnO & left the bag.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, that’s what the Gotham Gal tells me and you and she are right.i figure by writing about it publicly i might be able to get more comfortable with itkind of like talking to a shrink about my issues

      1. JamesHRH

        Interrsting idea. It’s like telling people you are going to lose 20 pounds. Your pride eventually makes you do it.few people age gracefully. It’s an underrated life goal.Fwiw – Larry bird would have played 5 more years I he was not such a stubborn, independent bugger. Hurt his back doing yard work, just cause he wanted to do it himself.

        1. pointsnfigures

          He may have liked the yard work. Might have been a release for him.

          1. JamesHRH

            My recollection is that he had a back situation that should be pampered. His ego drive him to pour a concrète driveway or some other heavy manual labor job.He wasn’t getting away from the stress of office frustrations by getting ‘just one f*^•ing thing done well today’ – my Dad used to shovel & then sweep snow off our circular driveway, while it was snowing, in an endless loop of satisfaction.Larry Legend took 5 years off his career just to prove a point. Hard to respect those decisions.

          2. LE

            Otoh (compared to my previous comment) I love to shovel snow it’s great exercise if done right.

        2. LE

          “hurt his back”.Reason I let the rental car guy load all the suitcases into the SUV and didn’t lift a finger. Not going to be that macho guy who has to take pain meds for back problems. Or is paying his whole life for playing football in high school.When we have people over the house I make the young kids take the chairs and tables back to the basement. My brother in law also helps because he’s one of those guys that thinks it somehow elevates him to do things like that. I like to be the guy in that movie… (Harry in your pocket.) “Harry never carries, not for one minute, not for one second”. The minute Harry carried is when he was busted. (This is not lazy attitude I don’t ever shy from something that take effort involving thinking).

      2. falicon

        The trick, as always, is to “ask questions”.Next time you are in one of these situations, ask the person “are you going to get in trouble if I take care of myself?”…the answer they give you will direct you as to what the easiest (and most guilt free) answer is.

        1. JamesHRH

          I use ‘I am going to get you in trouble?’ a lot.Often, the Pampering paradox still applies – service people will lie & answer No.

          1. falicon

            If they lie, my intent/purpose is still satisfied and I feel no guilt having given them a chance to let me know what the ‘right’ thing to do is…their fate is now on their shoulders 😉

        2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          +1 on … hearing it from the concerned person.some lazy worker may say “I am glad”.

  3. kidmercury

    i’m still reeling over your decision to make us read all that. #pulledaparkeri don’t like the servile stuff either because i’m worried people (1) want money or (2) are trying to steal something. but fortunately for me when i go places they are usually lame/cheap enough where they don’t have all the service amenities anyway.

    1. falicon

      Go cheap is my trick as well…the trick is in finding the right level of cheap – cause I still prefer ‘clean’ and ‘safe’ while I’m taking care of myself 🙂

      1. kidmercury

        lol absolutely! i went a little too cheap on a recent trip and ended up with a sore back from a crappy bed as well as the uncomfortable feeling of wtf is going to happen to me as i walked down a dark alley to my room… time i’ll splurge a bit more 🙂

        1. falicon

          I just got back from my annual ‘boys trip’ to visit my family in PA…I got us a cheap room on the way out where the boys each got a bed and I slept on the floor…we camped in tent while we were there…and I got us another cheap room in Canton the last night (so we could go to the Football Hall of Fame before driving home yesterday)…again the boys each got a bed and I slept on the floor…the good news is that I actually sleep great on the floor (spent a few years in my 20s without a bed actually; sleeping on the floor every night).My wife often says I take the ‘roughing it’ and ‘pack light’ stuff way too far to the extreme….but honestly it’s part of the fun for me now (I’m the type that *always* needs to challenge and push myself in one way or another).

          1. Russell

            Ha, yes! Good story!

          2. JLM

            .Haha, great memories.Well played.JLM.

        2. LE

          So the question is if you had enough money that you didn’t have to go cheap, would you?

          1. kidmercury

            i already live below my means, so yes.

          2. LE

            So my question is then “why suffer”.To wit:”from a crappy bed as well as the uncomfortable feeling of wtf is going to happen to me as i walked down a dark alley to my room”What are you trying to prove or what satisfaction do you get or would you get from not spending money that you have to have a better and more comfortable situation?I think this goes to the core of what Fred is wrestling with. There is no question Fred spends money, he travels, he lives in a nice house, he certainly goes out and eats in nice restaurants, he has a nice home entertainment system. But yet for some reason certain things about spending money bug him. (This of course is a matter of degree with everyone it’s analog and the reason some marriages fail).In the case of staying at a decent hotel there is definitely much that you get for the money vs. a lower end hotel. Once again if you can afford it.

          3. kidmercury

            I generally prefer to spend my money in other ways. Though it is all relative, I live in downtown Chicago which by some measures is already luxurious.

          4. falicon

            Only compared to Cleveland…sorry couldn’t pass it up (Chicago is actually an awesome city) 😉

          5. kidmercury

            Lol well given all the nyc bashing I do I have to admit I deserve it 🙂

    2. Brandon Burns

      that’s a very indian perspective. 🙂

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam


        1. Brandon Burns

          your profile says you’re in india, so you know exactly what i mean!i once had a kid in bombay follow me from the Gateway Arch half way to Victoria Station, begging to do me the “service” of shining my shoes. which were sneakers, and not shine-able!

          1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            Yes very much living in India.I understand that … most of the indians think any foreigner is damn rich and they will throw away money if you keep nagging them.

      2. Amar

        Yes and no. It is definitely true in India but it is not an Indian perspective. It is born of a context: abundant population + limited employment opportunities + nonexistent social infrastructure for the poor (there is no school the poor kids would rather go to instead).Thailand, Indonesia are other examples.

  4. JimHirshfield

    It’s a conundrum.

  5. Cam MacRae

    Mate, I’m Australian; it makes me twitch when I can’t sit in the front seat of a cab. God help the poor sap that tries to take my bag.

    1. supine

      THIS. I’ve spent the last few days freaking out Indian hire car drivers by getting in the front. Had to move the seat back every time as they’ve tried to give more leg room in the back.

  6. Richard

    I’m not sure it’s the pampering itself that’s the problem. If it were a robotic bell boy (girl), Im sure you would hitch those bags to its arms and have a great conversation with it, thinking about the great engineering team behind the efforts. When a human does the lifting, it just feels unnatural. Man vs Machine.

  7. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Learn to love them FAST… and don’t turn into a Jack Nicholson of ‘as good as it gets’ 🙂

  8. pointsnfigures

    I am the same way, and try to treat people who’s job it is to provide those services with the utmost respect. I have unsettling flutters in my stomach whenever I get that treatment.It’s the American in you probably. One day you could be a bum on the street and the next year be having lunch with some distinguished person. That towel person at the pool could become the next industry titan with the right idea and execution.

    1. andyswan

      …and he will recall with pride his days as the best, most attentive towel boy of the summer.

      1. pointsnfigures

        How about a Fresca?

  9. andyswan

    We must allow others the opportunity to do their job well. Life is purposeful action. Do not put men in the position of beggar… telling them that their purpose is valueless and their earnings a fraud…unless they truly are.Ask much, tip well for excellence.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      You and I agree? :-O

      1. andyswan

        If it would help put the universe back into balance for you, I could expand this into a diatribe about how this kind of dehumanization and devaluation of purpose is exactly the result (and likely the objective) of the welfare state…. 🙂

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Ha! Guess I asked for that.

    2. CJ

      Classic Andy. Well said.

    3. Elia Freedman

      I understand your point but it doesn’t mean he has to like it, either.

    4. ShanaC

      Isn’t asking much a sign we’ve replaced out the other jobs the person could have

  10. Seth Godin

    I don’t think it’s guilt, Fred. And I don’t think you need to learn to live with it.For me, anyway, it’s a sense of wrongness when someone else does something as a favor for me that’s not a favor at all. It feels like a double waste–a waste because this person could have been doing something more productive or helpful (for me or, preferably, for someone else), AND, they’re not even doing it the way I want it done.If it’s a gift, make it a gift I appreciate. If it’s a service you want me to compensate you for, make it a service I need or want.Requiring old goats like us to roll with it is silly.The real problem on Wallace’s boat was a command and control industrial service economy that disrespected its workers at the same time it disrespected the choices of its passengers.

    1. Scott Reyes

      I agree. Don’t push a service that is just there to take up space. It’s the difference between a restroom attendant and a shoe shine.I can wash by own hands. I don’t need that service.I am not a good shoe shine. I don’t have the equipment. I enjoy paying someone who to make my shoes look great.

      1. Brandon G. Donnelly

        I was going to use the same example. A restroom attendant who pumps soap and hands me a towel is delivering no real value to me. Mostly it just makes me feel awkward. It’s because rarely do I find myself at home wishing there was somebody there to pump that pesky bottle of soap for me. Oh, and I like carrying my own bags as well. I’ve gotten them that far, after all.

        1. LE

          ” A restroom attendant who pumps soap and hands me a towel is delivering no real value to me. “”to me” specifically. Not all about you. (And I rarely use that expression).They are delivering value because one of the purposes of the bathroom attendant is to also make sure the bathroom doesn’t get messed up with a wet counter top and spent towels all over the place. You may or may not care about this on an individual level but the patrons as a group do care about this.This is part of the cost structure in places that operate like that. They provide a person with a job and pay a low wage because that person will make money from the people that do tip. Similar to the way that restaurant servers are paid. Heavy on tips, light on wages. Or bar tenders.In theory if the restaurant has to pay the attendant (with no tipping permitted) they would have to raise the cost of the goods for every customer. So to me it’s an advantage not a disadvantage.

      2. fredwilson

        OMG. The rest room attendant! I hate that sooooo much. It’s the worst. It’s not the tip I mind its the whole experience that annoys me

        1. LE

          My ex father in law was a simple man who made a lot of money. Because the small stuff didn’t bother him.Back when I was first married many years ago he had to sell his house and hired a painter to paint the house.The painter did a terrible job and you could literally see paint dripping on the outside. But yet it didn’t bother my father in law at all. He thought the paint job was fine. (My father on the other hand would have been bonkers over that and tends to watch workmen 24/7 and micromanage.)Anyway at that point i realized that my father-in-law was a happy guy because things like that, things that I had been raised to be bothered by, didn’t matter to him at all.I’ve tried to think about that every time something bothers me (totally agree with the restroom attendant).I want you to try this. Next time you walk into the bathroom and see an attendant give him a dollar and see what happens. See if it’s worth it to give the dollar and avoid the negative of the situation. [1][1] Let me know what happens I’ve never done that but I’m thinking after what you said that it might be a good strategy.

          1. fredwilson

            I always give them a couple dollars. Sometimes I have to go borrow them from my wife because I rarely carry cash myself

        2. reece

          +1the epitome of wasted time/pamperingkills me

        3. Brandon Burns

          *chortle*I hate that one, too. 😀

        4. Nick Ambrose

          To me, it’s totally disgusting to have a person in the bathroom, I’d really like to meet the person that came up with that idea and have a word with them.The whole experience is disgusting and uncomfortable.I even hate to let someone cut my hair (even though it takes all of 5 mins with the clippers).I don’t really even know why some things make me feel that way, whereas I for instance really enjoy great service at a restaurant which in some ways is a similar thing …. odd.

        5. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          I once tipped one in France (because who doesn’t want clean facilities and yes this is French blackmail) and then she reached out to shake my hand. Again I was taught never to refuse a hand proferred in friendship but then I promptly suffered a weird need to wash my hands again.

          1. William Mougayar

            oh no…then it was a vicious circle of washing, tipping, shaking, washing, tipping, shaking, etc… hopefully you got out finally “unshaken”next time, go for a head nod and merci madame or mademoiselle 🙂

          2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Now thats a tip worth receiving !

        6. Rob Larson

          I feel the same way. For me it comes down to two things:1-It makes me feel a little lazy/worthless to stand there watching someone do a task that is normally my job, especially when it’s a personal thing that almost by definition “should” be my job (like with restroom attendants).2-That makes me feel almost like I’m being forced into a social class above the server, into some “elite class,” with the server relegated to “servant class”. And that feeling runs deeply counter to my beliefs and my sense of self, and is therefore uncomfortable.I don’t have those feelings with waiters, because they are doing a job that doesn’t feel like it “should be mine” to do.

        7. kidmercury

          restroom attendants: one of the few things in the world worse than quora’s “register to read content we don’t own” scam. that’s how bad it is

          1. LE

            Are they worse than even Apple?

          2. kidmercury

            lol it’s close but probably. only because public bathrooms can never be that pleasant of an experience. add in a restroom attendant and you are making a bad situation worse. at least apple will toss in a beatles song every once in a while.

          3. Dale Allyn

            I agree, Kid. I recently sent an article to friend I thought he might find interesting (thinking that by now Quora would have surely fixed this). He’s the kind of guy Quora would (or should) want to participate. He couldn’t view it. I sent it as an html email, it was stripped; finally I sent a scrape of some of the text content and asked if he wanted to see a couple of the diagrams (thinking that he might find the quality post enticing enough to register). He said “fuck it, if they won’t even let me read something to see if it’s worth my time, I’m not interested”.

        8. pointsnfigures

          +1M, reminds me of the Mel Brooks movie, History of the World when he shouts for the piss boy.

      3. PhilipSugar

        Yes. You have expressed this perfectly.You want to take the bag that I took from my car, schlepped through the snow in parking lot, dragged through the terminal, had searched by TSA, heaved over my head and shoved in a bin, repeat reverse order, and now you want to take that bag the last 100 feet in a marble lined hallway and go into my one private sanctuary my room?? And put your hand out or get boo-boo faced when I want to shoo away your lobster claw advances which make me realize what it must be like to be groped?Want to open my cab door and for that service extort $5 out of the cabby for airport fares??It seems like a fraud.Give me a service. I love you, you are my equal, drive me? I sit in the front, serve me a great dinner with my wife? You are my tour guide, my confidant.But give me a paper towel in a public bathroom??? No.

    2. Brandon Burns

      There is no hint of respect for cultural sensitivity here.I’m not sure where this boat was, or what the customs of that place are, but forcing American bias upon workers of a different country is pretty shortsighted and, above all, rude.If Fred doesn’t want his yogurt opened for him in Chaing Mai, Thailand, he can decide not to travel to Chaing Mai, Thailand, a place where that kind of service is apart of the culture.Respect.

      1. fredwilson

        that’s right Brandon. and that’s why i let them open it for me. but it bothered me a lot.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          gotta get your Zen on

          1. Dale Allyn

            Right, but look at the nice conversation it spurred. #crazylikeafox;)

        2. markslater

          you have far more important things to contemplate that opening yoghurt….surely. 😉

        3. LE

          I sealed the deal on my 2nd wife by taking her to a Mandarin Oriental (for my birthday) after we had been dating for only a few weeks on a short trip. She responded very favorably to it. It was a great investment. She had never been to such a nice hotel before and had never received the kind of treatment they give at a hotel like that.

        4. Dale Allyn

          I agree with @Brandon_Burns:disqus and know that you do too. This is not a “Thai custom”, it’s service policy at a 5-star property in a country where service is not an undignified job (in contrast to an attitude we often meet in the U.S.). Edit to add: and where quality labor cost is relatively low.As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this thread, hotel management policies play a big roll here, and sometimes the message of total guest comfort is somewhat miss-communicated. E.g: Even though the staff are absolutely wonderful at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, I find the experience too “stiff” and prefer nearby options which provide impeccable service, but in an environment which allows me to joke around with staff and enjoy their laughs (and open my own yogurt ;). (Exception: eating lunch at Lord Jim’s is always a pleasure.)

    3. fredwilson

      for sure. and he got 100 pages out of exposing it for what it was/is.

    4. Joe Wilkinson

      You’re spot on. I don’t think it could be described better than being a “double waste”. The feeling you get when someone is doing you a service you don’t want or need just feels that you’re helping add inefficiency to the world – its a terrible feeling.

    5. JamesHRH

      You would have to wear a Tshirt that says “I AM SPECIAL”. Everyday.While I doubt that your intent is to be self-indulgent (‘substitute ‘gift’ for favor in your comment and re-read it……), not letting people who work for tips or minimum wage (in third world countries) get through their day peacefully is borderline unethical.The Peninsula works the way it works. Stay @ a B&B if you don’t like that service.Command & control = quality & consistency, FWIW.

  11. RichardF

    I’m like you Fred, I like to carry my own clubs, skis and my bag. It’s my choice and that choice should be respected as part of the service being offered.

  12. David Semeria

    Why pamper life’s complexity When the leather runs smoothOn the passenger seat?Eighties song quote.

  13. falicon

    I think this is ultimately a class thing.Those of us that grew up poor believe in and know the honor and self-esteem that comes with being able to take care of things ourselves. We find great satisfaction in doing it ourselves, and even more in helping others to do it.Though I did not, I also see many who grew up rich and were always given the option to be pampered make the active decision/choice to do things themselves. I believe they take great pride and satisfaction in knowing that even though they were born into ‘wealth’ they too can take care of themselves.This leaves the middle class…and a lot of ‘how your parents raised you’…some were instilled with the ‘make your own way. improve. work hard’ attitude…but some (too many I think) were instilled with the ‘take what you can because you can lose it any minute’ attitude…and I think this “get mine” extends horribly to situations where you are being pampered (it’s the, “I so rarely get to be pampered, I want them to do everything and I’m going to treat them like crap while they do it” syndrom…problem is that the ones saying that generally act that way 365 even though they don’t think/realize they are)….of course this could all just be my own bias and self-experience…and class and upbringing could have absolutely nothing to do with it 😉

    1. kidmercury

      i agree, class is a major factor, always is.

    2. Scott Barnett

      I was thinking the exact same thing when I read this. The other is something I learned in college that always stuck with me… a mentor told me he never asked somebody if they needed “help”, because the implication is that if they need help they are “helpless”.I don’t want somebody carrying my bags because I can do that myself – I don’t need that “help”. And I think that’s why I’m so uncomfortable with people doing stuff like this. I don’t like to feel helpless.

      1. falicon

        +1. I try never to ask if they need help…instead I try to ask “may I help you?”…just a slight change in words, but it frames it in the mold of “I would like to help you” rather than “you look like you need saving”….funny how much language plays into emotion…

        1. Scott Barnett

          Same. I usually say “do you need assistance?” or “can I assist you”? Assist is more descriptive of what I’d like to do (or what I’d like somebody do for me).

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Well played 🙂

    3. JLM

      .Great observation.As a kid, I used to caddy. I loved it. I could carry two bags and thus made some real money for the times. I used to loop in the morning and the afternoon and make $40 plus tips as a 13 year old kid.I once caddied for Joe Namath, Bess Myerson (former Miss America) and Sonnie ‘Werblin (long ago owner of the Jets). Joe Namath was the most foul mouthed man I ever met. Bess Myerson (first Jewish Miss America and in her 40s then) was beautiful beyond belief. Sonny Werblin was Mr Smooth and a huge tipper.As an adult, when I played golf I used to love to walk and use caddies. I loved their advice. Once at Tryall in Jamaica, I followed the caddy’s advice on lining up putts on those bermuda greens — hard as hell to read — and was a couple of shots under par at the turn. Back nine, I regressed to norm but it was fun while it lasted.It is important to be as nice to folks on the way up as you want them to be on the way down and then try like Hell to avoid the big fall.Work is what we do and we should all try to be as good at it as we can. I loved being a caddy and I loved playing golf with caddies.JLM.

      1. pointsnfigures

        I caddied. We always knew the big tippers from the bad ones. There was a guy named O Dougherty that would rip out a big wad of bills at the end of the round. He’d hold out a dollar and say, “Is that enough?”. You’d shake your head, and he’d roll out another, and ask if that was enough. The game went on to the fourth dollar, at that point you’d start to feel guilty. (This was 1975, the dollar was worth more). You’d shake your head “Yes”, that’s enough and he’d tip you a fucking quarter.But, some guys were really nice. LIke JLM, I walk as much as I can and try to get to know the caddy. You’re supposed to have fun. Then I tip as much as I can. I have been on the other end and I don’t want them telling nasty stories about me.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        You beat me! When I was about 12, Dadtried to get my older brother and meinterested in golf. I could never see thepoint, and Dad never explained it to me.But my brother worked hard at golf andsometimes played at par.I tried to caddy, but my feet hurtsomething awful from the walking! Yearslater my feet got well for some unknownreason.I never got paid well enough from thecaddying even for a cheap lunch at thelittle sandwich and hot dog window at thegolf course!But the golf course was not totallyuseless for me; it had a nicely shadedparking lot. So, when I was in collegeand driving the old car my brother and Ishared, a car with high sides and somegood privacy, and was driving home with mygirlfriend, she made several unambiguoushints not to go home yet and partiallyturned the steering wheel for us to turninto the golf course parking lot. Livelygirl!That golf course was also good for thatgirl and I to do some astronomy, e.g.,watch a lunar eclipse. So, as we wereengaging in our scientific pursuits,somehow some police near the road werewaving some flash lights, but they wereabout 100 yards away and didn’t see us!Apparently some of the neighbors of thegolf course didn’t like eclipse watching!There were some things to like about thatgolf course!I can tell you what the golf course was:Across the street lived the guy who didHoliday Inns!But, “Bess Myerson” “beautiful beyondbelief”; she was on some TV shows. Howyou exaggerate. Surely you didn’t needglasses then!A girl “beautiful beyond belief” was 13when I was 15. Being a total nerd, I wasa total disaster with her (I learned morein college although not in the math andphysics classes but self-taught). I was soinept the whole thing was just Platonic.Even just Platonic, there’s no joke I fellI love with her. We had a problem; nerdme handled it poorly, and we broke up.There’s evidence that the break upresulted in both of our hearts beingbroken for years. She should have beenthe girlfriend I had in college, but shewasn’t, and I should have married her; oneof my major mistakes in life.Recently I found a low resolution pictureof her at a Web site with scans of pagesof high school annuals, and it was heralright! My memory came right back! Inthe picture she was a senior and a HomeComing Queen candidate — by far theprettiest in her graduating class orlikely nearly any 1000 graduating classes.Just from that little picture, my love forher returned like it was last week. Maybenow I’ve figured out how to forget abouther.First love; powerful thing. Looks likeMother Nature has something figured outthere; considering the disastrous divorcerate and birth rate (less than 2.1 perwoman — we’re dying out), maybe we shouldbe paying more attention to Mother Nature.Soon I was more interested in classicalmusic instead of golf. Slowly Dad likedthe music a little. It took me a while todiscover and like some of the music ofRichard Wagner, e.g., the Otto Klempererperformance of the “Prelude” to’Lohengrin’, with some drop dead gorgeousVictorian era still images at…Dad could like the images and maybe intime the music!When I was a B-school prof in Columbus,the town was in love with the golf atMuirfield Village of Jack Nicklaus, and Iwas consulting in applied math, makingprogress with violin, helping to select anew CIO for the university, sometimesenjoying Mackinac Island in Lake Huron,getting the engine in my 396 Camarorebuilt, and still didn’t like golf.

  14. kirklove


    1. fredwilson


  15. Brandon Burns

    Living and traveling extensively through Asia, I learned to think of resisting “pampering” as basically telling an upstanding employee that they are not good enough — the ultimate personal slight. You’re robbing them of the dignity of a job well done. You’re not respecting their culture, and are being rude. And, especially in Asia, you’re reaffirming stereotypes that Americans are uncouth heathens.When it was put to me like that, that harshly, I began to understand, accept, and be comfortable with “pampering.”

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      That I believe is a cultural issue of different continents and countries.

  16. awaldstein

    I’ll take ski in/ski out and heated boots on a cold Aspen day anytime Fred.I’m appreciative of it, tip for it and honestly, have worked really hard to get to it.My bags, never. Some things matter, some things not.

  17. William Mougayar

    I hate it when an overly eager porter wants to take my carry-on bag and I don’t need it. That episode must have happened at the Beirut airport obviously. It used to be really bad when they first re-opened it after the war, almost like it was described (although slightly dramatized), but they have gotten better and have self-service carts now.I’ve gone through that similar scenario there several times, and I’m one of the few that rolls my own bags. It’s true they look at you funny- like what’s wrong with you, you don’t have $2 to give as a tip?

    1. andyswan

      That’s just high octane begging.

      1. William Mougayar

        It’s a ratio thing. If they had 5-10 porters ready to help if you need them, while the majority are picking-up the self-service buggy that’s ok, but I agree it’s an issue when these ratios are reversed.

  18. LIAD

    It’s not guilt. It’s humility. I feel uncomfortable when a waiter clears my dirty plate at a restaurant. I hate it when a barber after a haircut makes a whole fuss and brushes me down.

  19. jmcaddell

    Fred, thanks for sharing the Wallace excerpt. His fiction I could take or leave, but his nonfiction writing (this book and “Consider the Lobster” are some of the best I’ve ever come across. It’s pure pleasure to read him. I have a smile on my face this morning, thanks to this.

    1. fredwilson

      I agree about DFW. I love his essaysThe one about Tracy Austin is classic

  20. MickSavant

    I ran into this same thing living in India. It goes to a further extreme there. I tried to help a guy who maybe weighed 100 lbs who was struggling with one of the large water drums for the water cooler. I was later informed that in addition to getting him in trouble for having a “VIP” waste his time with such a menial task I had also insulted his station in life as a lower caste member.

    1. kidmercury

      people buying into/participating in the indian caste system is holding him back more than anything else

      1. MickSavant

        I completely agree. It bothered me even more at the time. A mentor of mine advised me that instead of trying to make an issue out of it to try and see the country for the trajectory it was on rather than the ills that plagued it that moment and to get comfortable operating within the culture while I was there.

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          India is a stupid/weird/over-populated/under-developed/all-that … but interesting country.

          1. Lew Hollerbach

            Hamara Bharat Maha!

          2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            LOL… seriously i doubt how it survives with all those Himalayan problems…there is something wrong …and that is what is interesting to me.

          3. Lew Hollerbach

            Much more than Himalayan problems: 1USD = INR67 today, currency is tumbling, growth has slowed to 4-5%, 10-12% of state bank loans are in default, massive food inflation (1kg of onions now Rs 80), inflation overall, at 10%, is worse than in any other big economy, budget deficit is 10% of GDP, only 3% of Indians pay income tax, tens of millions of young people (one fifth of the world’s working age population) will have to find jobs where none currently exists, infrastructure still in shambles, food rots in warehouses, no cold-chain storage, stock market is down by a quarter in dollar terms, current account deficit a record high of 6.7% of GDP in the last quarter, scams galore (recently, CoalGate, Commonwealth Games, the 2G/telecom, Indian Premier League cricket scam), FDI still a problem with no real legislation passed (and much of existing FDI drying up). These are just some of the economic problems plaguing India now, let along political issues with Pakistan, China, Himalayas, etc. Plus cultural issues such as the recent massive increase in reported rapes.So, yes, interesting country. But, despite all this, it’s hard not to love it, if you’ve spent any time there and have built up friendships.

  21. Lew Hollerbach

    I’m also with your Fred. However, i learned a valuable lesson while visiting and then subsequently living in India. On my first trip there, the hotel staff (not a fancy western 5-star), and the various boys hired by businesses to run errands, serve you tea, and so on, “pampered” me, and i shrugged them off as often as i could. Until one of my Indian hosts politely told me that by doing this, by carrying my own bags, etc. I was depriving someone of his/her livelihood.When it was put to me like that, I had, of course, a completely different view of the issue, and afterwards did let everyone carry my bags, call me taxis, carry my shopping up to my room, etc. In a country where half the population subsists on less than $1 a day, depriving someone of a few Rupees to do something for you verges on the criminal.And it’s not that “….they look at you funny- like what’s wrong with you, you don’t have $2 to give as a tip…”. They look at you funny, wondering why you don’t want to give them the dignity of earning their crust.So when we travel abroad, and encounter cultures with which we may not be familiar, let us be sure not to confuse a desire for not being pampered with ignorance. The consequence for those trying to “pamper” us could be harsh…My $0.02.

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Little careful there … don’t let everyone take your bags :…unless you recognize him/her as service :-).

      1. Lew Hollerbach


    2. William Mougayar

      Trust is a weird word in some parts of the world.

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        by ‘some’ I assume you mean the ‘earth’….Seriously… which part of the world were TRUST is TRUST….trust was a weird word when ‘God’ trusted ‘adam and eve’.

  22. Andrew Kennedy

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. This drills deep into human behavior. Do you think people have a “formative” period in their lives? I’ve read that your father was in the Army (a general I believe) and so nothing seems farther from the mentality of Army life / values than having people open your yogurt for you. My father was in the Army and served in Vietnam. The last thing he’d want me to be is “soft” and so I also feel the same way about being pampered. It’s been engrained in me.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. That’s a big part of it

  23. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    The tail end of the legacy of British ruling ….still remains across the globe … you will see more of them in common wealth countries.Not only in paid services like hotel, restaurant, gym, golf-course etc., But also in public like airports, rail-stations, ….

  24. mfeinstein

    There are some types of ‘pampering’ I like and some I don’t. I don’t need someone to carry my bag. I can do it myself, and doing it myself is quicker and easier. Having someone carry my bag isn’t saving me much.However, leave a free bottle of wine in my hotel room to greet me when I arrive, and I am very happy. I don’t send it back and insist on buying the wine myself, although I can certainly afford it.For me, the pampering that works is when something is surprising and gives me something I appreciate that I may not to on my own. But, doing something for me that I don’t give a second thought about doing myself doesn’t have a lot of value and can feel like somewhat of an annoyance.I don’t think that’s guilt as much as impatience!

  25. Scott Kurnit

    “I suppose I should just learn to love it. I will work on that.” Fred… If you like, I could do that for you!

    1. fredwilson

      Gotta do my own work on myself Scott!

  26. Giddy

    The worst is the guy who waits with towels to dry your hands after the bathroom at some UK hotels. I promise you, I really can manage this myself!

    1. Laneyboy

      Mostly those guys are there to deter drug use in the facility in question – but it does feel super awkward.

  27. panterosa,

    Fred, how much of your bias comes from being male? I don’t ask this in a sexist way, I simply know many men who think like you and less women who do. No women have answered here so far.I alternate between carrying and letting carry. I always want to know I can carry, easily and gracefully, and basically don’t pack anything beyond that. In service, there are arts of providing well, and seeing people serve in that spirit is a pleasure, and I happily tip them for showing me how it should be done.Good service is like good manners – the people with the best manners are easy to be around and very comfortable, especially because they create a climate where everything can be addressed. Never overbearing or mysterious motives, always present, pleasant and generous.

    1. Cynthia Schames

      That was a lovely comment. I actually had answered, but Disqus on mobile apparently hates me. Just coming back to this thread now to re-read something @falicon said.

  28. Brian Kurth

    The worst are bathroom attendants. I always have this feeling of sadness when some poor bloke is stuck working in a bathroom (!!) handing out paper towels and spraying cologne. Still, I accept the paper towel, decline the cologne and hope like hell I have a dollar bill in my wallet. Luckily, this level of “servitude careers” are fewer and far between.

    1. fredwilson

      I could have written this comment verbatim. That’s exactly how I feel. And I rarely carry cash which makes that last bit worse. I’d send him (men’s room folks) a bitcoin from my phone if they would take it

  29. Tracey Jackson

    In terms of the Wallace quote I agree with Seth Godin. I also agree with whoever said it’s a very American mindset. I think there is guilt that has to do with slavery and the treatment of minorities in this country. We were not a feudal country, we never had a monarchy. It’s not engrained in us to be waited on in a Downton Abbey way. We were supposedly built as a one class country, but how can that possibly ever come to pass? I love a good spa. I love to be driven in a car. I love to fly business. If a driver meets me at the airport I let him take one bag and I take my carry on. This must sound like some one percenter bull shit response. But when I’m in the South and people call me ma’m I cringe and tell them to please not. I often tell people in service to call be my first name. I always introduce myself to the people who work in someone’s house. Traveling in Asia for so much of my life I have been able to accept that people need all jobs. I know the people who work in my house now need the job. Want the job. I think the answer is if you treat people in the service position with kindness and dignity, and pay them well it’s all you can do. I also think if treat people as people and not servants it goes a long way. Ask about their kids, their country, things you have in common. My husband talks to everyone about sports, no mater what they do. I have always thought this was a great equalizer. He then tips large. In the absolute people need to feed their families and shelter them and educate their kids, and if it means carrying a guy’s golf clubs, then he should get to do it.Just give him a shit load of money when you are done. We are a classist world, despite how much we would love to deny it. But we don’t have to be a cruel or treat people as they don’t exist except to serve us. My husband just walked in and said to tell you when Porters learn to write code they won’t have to carry bags.But that opens the whole topic of education to those without money and I need to shut up.

    1. awaldstein

      Basic respect and manners are not overrated.But I need to say that the luxuries of means are not to be belittled especially by those that don’t come from it.

      1. Tracey Jackson

        I have found some of the worst offenders are those who don’t come from means. I grew up with means and was always taught this was not to be abused. But I also think we should not belittle hard work, or talent that then gives us means, and why should it not be enjoyed. Which I think is what you might be saying Arnold. There is a horrible back lash now to those with means. I think the rich have become so rich in this country while the poor have become poorer. We don’t resemble the country we once were. That confuses people – I think.All rich people are not ass holes by any stretch and I think that is the common belief by manyWant to see people abuse the help,watch a really rich Indian in India. It makes you want to throw up.

        1. awaldstein

          True…My parents did a really great job raising us. Working class–Dad high school teacher, mom, secretary, grand father, garment factory worker. They had a happy house. Kvetching was not allowed.I’ve tried to emulate them. Still trying.

          1. Tracey Jackson

            From what I read you are doing a good job. Values were different then. My grandfather sold shoe laces to put himself through law school, he instilled the old school mentality in me, Though he was not so nice to the help I must say. There was a time when happy and money were not equated the way they are now. I think that is slipping away from the public dialogue. Though I made a film about it.

          2. awaldstein

            Nicely said.The time I spend with my mom, now 94, the last one left, I realize that this is truly a generational difference.Link to your film info please!

          3. LE

            I love stuff like that. I gave “Phyliss and Harold” 5 stars on Netflix and watched it maybe three times.…I will watch your film (and pay for it) because you did it (and I’m curious as well as I like the genre).Question though. What does it take to get something like that on Netflix (the long tail) and how does that work?

          4. Tracey Jackson

            You are very sweet to do that. ‘Phyllis and Harold” is a terrific doc. She is a friend of mine and does great work.Re- the Netflix thing, to get an indie film on Netflix you need to get X amount of people to request it for their queue. I forget what X is. 100 maybe. At the point I could have done that I was sick of asking favors from my friends in regards to the film. I could not write one more “Would You Please” email. And at the time it was on Hulu so people were seeing it there. I was also selling a lot of DVD’s on Amazon. So I never put myself in the Netflix game. When I took it off Hulu my distributor put it on Amazon for streaming. So it’s always been around.If you love good docs. My foreign distributor has done the best job. It plays on European TV all the time. But they have a website linked below. They have the best docs we don’t get here. Every time I go on there are 20 films I want to see that second. I think you will find things to watch you don’t see here. When I grabbed the link I saw four films I could watch right now.

          5. LE

            The emotion in that film as shown in her parents faces (especially her dad) was fascinating. Both of her parents comments about each other were spot on. You couldn’t write stuff like that. I grew up with stuff like that. I think there is room for a ton of movies just like that (as evidenced by the appetite for reality tv).It’s interesting that on netflix there are no trailers. If there were you could see if a film has the look and feel of something you would like or not before rolling it.An idea for a site might be one that consists entirely of trailers of indie films (along with a place to comment) and a voting button “put this on netflix”. That way I could visit that site, discover films, and netflix could use that data to decide what they should add to the q.And then you could just tell people “hey my site is on “” [1]” take a look and vote me up![1] Those film festival laurels are always a big draw for me in deciding what to take a chance on watching on netflix.

          6. William Mougayar

            wow, you did that – impressive. how long was she there for? “Tracey enrolls her in a teaching program in the slums of Mumbai.

          7. Tracey Jackson

            Three weeks. She was a teacher in a slum school.Very controversial film.People either love it or HATE it.

          8. LE

            “Kvetching was not allowed.”I’m trying to raise my step kids the same way. I was asked this morning if the fact that I was raised (like you were) makes me more likely to be “nicer” to them. I said no the opposite. I tell them “so if you work hard and make money you can be the decision maker and make all the decisions”. I look at the fact that they don’t get their way and can’t kvetch as an important part of the development process that will motivate them to work and earn control of their life. You want to go to that restaurant? I don’t. Study hard and earn a living and you can go to all the ball games you want and do all the things you want to do. Until then it’s my rules and I’m not your friend I’m your parent.

      2. JLM

        .The richest a person will ever be is when every person they encounter is comfortable, or made comfortable, in their presence.No amount of money can buy this skill. It is called being a gentleman or lady.I was once playing golf with the Chairman of a huge financial institution. His son worked for me and his family had a meaningful investment in several of my projects.He received a call from the President of the US as we were playing. He said he could not talk to him just then because he was playing golf with some friends and was down $5 on the front nine.They arranged to speak again later.That is class.JLM.

        1. awaldstein

          Agree….but it is also more complex.The act of humility of the very successful is overtly more profound than the act of humility of the poor.These are intertwined and class and rank inform that interaction.i don’t disagree with your example. But I want to pound on the fact that your example of class is using someone extremely powerful forsaking the call of the president. They can afford the humility of that choice.

          1. LE

            Exactly. Let’s say you are trying to build your consulting practice in NYC and get a call from someone important that you had been trying to land for months. Obviously you take the call. In fact most successful people would take the call way way past the “trying to build stage” unless they are resting on their laurels.

        2. LE

          To me there is more going on with that situation than meets the eye. If something doesn’t make sense, as I like to say, there is probably something that you don’t know about what happened.Either he was sending some kind of message to the President, or was trying to show the people that he played golf with how important he was by being able to have the President call him back later. Remember the opening scene in “the Insider” where Mike Wallace was so difficult with the Ayatollah but then buckled when faced with losing his job over the tobacco 60 minutes report?To me there is very clearly a pecking order in life. If you are on a golf course and you get a call from the President you take the call. If you are the person on the golf course and you understand the pecking order you fully understand why the person you are with has to take the call. Unless games are being played. Otherwise behavior like that, to me, is just stupid.This assumes of course that the call really was from the President of the US.That said I’d like to know more about why you think that in this particular example this means that the person that you are with has class for doing this? If you had a real estate leasing agent working for you and a big client called and they did a similar thing and lost a deal how would you feel then for example?I was once playing golf with the Chairman of a huge financial institution. His son worked for me and his family had a meaningful investment in several of my projects.So the question that I have for you is this: If you had been the one to get the call from the President of the US, or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or the head of VMI, or a 5 star General what would you have done?

          1. sigmaalgebra

            My guess would be that the personfrom the Office of the Presidentwas a staff member arrangingthe call, hopefully then, but notthe president himself. Else theChairman was very friendly withthe president and maybe playedgolf with him, etc.

          2. LE

            Agree which is my point. Simply that I don’t see what occurred as “class” as much as just a set of circumstances where it makes sense for other reasons to not take the call. Because if it was made by a staff member (and it was almost certainly done like that) the President wouldn’t even know if or why the call wasn’t taken. All he knows is that he gives a list of people he wants to talk to and either connects or doesn’t. Person could be in a plane or under the knife or not near a cell tower.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            Right. As shocking and rareas it is, we are in agreement;I’ll try not to let anything likethat happen again ( 🙂 ) !

    2. fredwilson

      Classic Glenn!

  30. fltron

    There’s a great line in the Sons of Anarchy that goes something like this:A child is selfish, and looks for their needs to be met by others. A man (or woman!) looks for the needs of others in his community and works to meet them.I don’t necessarily think its a guilt thing. It could be a primitive pride thing, where your inner lizard brain tells you that not being able to carry your own stuff is a sign of weakness. Regardless, carry-on! There are times to be culturally sensitive and let others do things for you, but with those employed to help you, you should only get the help you Another great line from Sons of Anarchy is Jemma’s “Do you think I want love? Ha. Men need to be loved. Women need to be needed.” (yes, I just finished the latest season, hence all the quotes)

  31. William Mougayar

    Here’s the epitome of pampered. I shot this 30 sec video last year in Beirut during our vacation, just to show the irony of it. A manned self-service auto pay kiosk. It sounds like an oxymoron, but only in Beirut, where they have the only McDonald’s in the world with Valet Parking.

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      That is not pampering … that is introduction of new technology … people (local) don’t know how to use it.Have you seen across the globe in most of the banks there will be ‘helper’ who will help you fill the form (pay-in or cash-out)….that is not pampering … there are always someone operating his/her bank account for the first time.

      1. William Mougayar

        That’s not the case here. People there don’t need that. It’s just a service culture thing.

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          I have seen similar things happen in India when they introduce anything auto-matic … until 4-years back there were helpers at the Kiosk for electricity bill payment in the so called urban city bangalore… now not there.

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Since the UK Olympics you now have capably manned self-service ticket machines at Heathrow Gatwick and larger mainline train stations.#RANT TIMENote this is not for “poor Johnny foreigner who has no clue but rather it is for for me – who has no clue – So much so do I have no clue that I challenge the designers of these ticket dispensers to travel legally from London to Gatwick by rail using only their technology to supply ticketing. Meanwhile I will walk on my hands backwards round the fast lane of the M25 motorway and still get there first.Time was you said what you wanted and a pleasant person provided it and in exchange you paid. Time for a song…That’s not pampering it’s valuable human contact. The technology that disrupts is valuable human contact who is especially trained at great expense in the bizarre user interfaces that the M2Human designers come up with.

    3. Andrew Kennedy

      That’s how “full service” works at gas stations in NJ and other places that still have full service. They swipe your card and pump your gas for an additional fee. Silly.

      1. William Mougayar

        It is silly. And to add to it, when you exit by car, the attendant takes your ticket and inserts it in the exit machine.

        1. Andrew Kennedy

          I was in china a number of years ago and there were elevator attendents in every hotel I stayed at ie people that stand in the elevator and push the button in the elevator as opposed to an elevator operator. That said, China has a lot of people to employ.

          1. William Mougayar

            true. that’s another case of it.

    4. Mark Essel

      That’s going the distance!

  32. jason wright

    i sharpened my machete after para a peer-to-peer world we are not for pampering.

  33. Guest

    “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” — Martin Luther King.My approach is to let “help” express their dignity and consideration and to say “Thank you” in a genuine way.My default mode is to be self-sufficient in everything and I’ve been known to lug suitcases bigger than me (petite Chinese woman) up 5 flights of stairs.However, I also appreciate that some people simply want to do their jobs really well — no matter how menial or laborious it is.

  34. Dax

    This is an interesting conversation because like most things there is not a clear right or wrong way of handling as situations vary, the “customer” varies, and the “porter” varies. I think what DFW is pointing out here has more to do with his viewpoint of looking at every individual as a person–a person with real thoughts, dreams, intents, etc. There are certainly times when a porter is looking for nothing more than a tip (btw it is how he/she makes a living) and there are times when they may generally be trying to be a good employee whether fear induced or encouraged by ambitious drive. But at the end of the day there is a real connection between those who serve and those who receive. If you think about the people you ultimately feel closest to it is likely the people you selflessly serve the most. While I have the internal struggle of “I can clearly do this myself, I don’t want to burden anyone, I can manage on my own, etc.” I believe we are not only depriving the people who serve us when we resist these opportunities but we are also depriving ourselves a bit. The reason is that we are depriving ourself of an opportunity at real human interaction and making a great experience–lifting someone else. I am not consistent at this but when I am mindful enough to do it and I believe there is honest intent on the other side, I try and make it a point to let them have a chance to do their job and do it well–I try to interact and show genuine appreciation with a smile and I give them a tip that I believe matches the situation. Allowing service in the right way and serving back with genuine appreciation should leave both sides feeling uplifted.

  35. AMT Editorial Staff

    It’s not just guilt. It’s choice. It’s the contract. When you schedule a massage, you’ve made the choice for pampering. When you walk in a hotel and have 2 employees trying to help aka pamper, you did not choose it. If you want to shed the discomfort, make a mental contract with yourself to get over the “choice” issue. Mentally contract to be pampered. And then, enjoy.

  36. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    There is a confusion here about what is pampering ….people are confusing poverty driven services (like in India or may be south-east-asia) to pampering…Confusing new tech introduction service to pampering …Confusing ‘this is the only last thing i can do for living instead of begging’ (restroom service) to pampering…Pampering is something where someone is paid (salaried) to do a simple job at a place where you pay hefty amount which includes that service. Someone who is appointed to pamper you …

  37. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I think if you reframe it as giving another person respect — and if giving other people respect in all cases is a priority for you — then you will find it comes more easily and in fact humanizes both you and the other person. In fact, it’s an opportunity to engage with another person that you might otherwise never meet or learn from.I partially disagree with Seth. When I encounter a bathroom attendant, I’m as uncomfortable as anyone. (It’s compounded by the fact that I rarely think to bring money with me to the bathroom.) But neither of us has really chosen the situation. I always try to make sure I don’t deny the person her humanity by ignoring her or awkwardly saying no. I speak directly and say, “I forgot to bring money, so please don’t waste your time on me. Thank you.”Just remind yourself, it’s not about the pampering. It’s about the person.

    1. ShanaC

      i’m nervous about the days between the new jobs in the new economy while education is catching up

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Meaning tech, specifically?

  38. Oren Moravchik

    I’d attribute this phenomenon also to smart business management.I’m an Israeli, and have traveled all around the world. Pampering isn’t natural for me, and I don’t believe I’ll ever get used to it.However, I learned and observed that reciprocity – one of the irrationalities in our wonderful psychology of decision making – actually works. When you receive something without asking, you have an automatic, social and powerful need to reciprocate.In most cases you described, Fred, I would guess it was easier for you to spend more at the bar, tip heavier etc.

  39. muratcannoyan

    For a time I worked as catering manager for an airline at JFK and noticed one day on the VIP list that Ahmet Ertegun (Atlantic Records founder) was taking the flight out. I idolized him for so many reasons and decided I was going to escort him through to the flight. When we got to the xray he softly motioned to his bag and said he would get it. But this was my shot to do something/anything for this remarkable person and I grabbed the bag anyway. At which point Mr. Ertegun viserally staired at me to let me know how he felt without saying a word. It turns out Mr. Ertegun doesn’t like to be pampered either. A lesson I keep with me.

  40. vrollings

    Long time reader; first time commenter. Fred, I, too, love that book! My single favorite short story in the world is the state fair essay in that book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    1. fredwilson

      My next read. Can’t wait

  41. howardlindzon

    You should take me with you on the next trip and I will show you how easy it is to accept pampering

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I was taking a sip of tea when reading this comment, and I almost wasn’t able to swallow it.

      1. fredwilson

        Howard has that effect on me too!

    2. markslater


    3. LE

      Agree. And the tips are no big thing. If you can afford to go to the Mandarin Oriental you can spend a few dollars to put a smile on the face of the guy who hauls your bags.This is definitely something that takes a bit of time and thinking to get out of the wrong mindset which is to look at this as a negative. It can actually be a positive if you can afford it because the person being tipped depends on that money. And you can derive pleasure from knowing you have helped them (flip the reward as I say).I don’t need or like to be pampered and I don’t like the expectation of tipping everywhere but I’ve gotten over the thinking that having to tip is a bad thing. A few dollars here and a few dollars there in the scheme of things (once again if you have the money to travel and go to nice places) is just no big deal.

  42. dan_malven

    If you enjoy this topic, you really should watch the fabulous series Downton Abbey (first two seasons available on Hulu+). They artistically render this issue incredibly well in many different ways. In one of the first few episodes, the new heir to the manor, who was thrust into it and has never led a life of privilege before, refuses to use his servant. The existing lord of the manor emphatically makes the point that servants take pride in their jobs and need those jobs. It’s touching because he really believes it, and is completely unaware of how corrosive it is to society to have jobs with no meaningful economic or societal benefit, but to him it’s the noble thing to do. And so the new heir starts using his servant (and I cringe a little….the mark of great entertainment!).This issue of the disappearing master-servant class system is the theme of the entire series, and is highlighted in many different ways, such as in WWI two of the “ladies” of the manor want to help the war effort so one becomes a nurse and the other a farmhand, and both come to appreciate the pride of accomplishment for the first time. The advent of electricity, medical innovations, changing political times, etc are all used by the show’s creators to bring this issue out in different ways.If you’re a student of economic history and innovation’s impact on society, you will love this series. I hesitated to watch it initially because I thought it would be too slow, but it’s not at all and I got totally hooked on it. I know I’m gushing…but I think it’s really that good!

    1. JLM

      .The casting is beyond belief. Every single cast member is perfect.JLM.

    2. fredwilson

      Thanks for the recommendation Dan

    3. JLM

      .I will back you to the hilt. Totally addictive. Great fun.JLM.

  43. Tom Labus

    I traveled to India for around 10 years. At first, I was taken back by someone to cook, to clean, to do laundry, to drive, to get water, to get coffee, a coke, a snack and you name it.But later on It finally dawned on me that these were make jobs and you need to do that when there’s a billion + of you and many not greatly educated. Plus it was fun for me

  44. Matt A. Myers

    Self-sufficiency and self-reliability feels good, reliable, safe, secure.Plus it keeps you on your toes, your mind sharp, your body working.

  45. lynnerae

    I didn’t mind reading that excerpt in the least…reminded me how much I loved that laugh-out-loud book. Love DFW. Thanks, Fred!

  46. David Snitkof

    This is an example of “service” vs. “hospitality”. Service is measured on a one-dimensional scale where many people just assume more=better. Hospitality is about doing whatever it takes to make the guest/customer feel comfortable and appreciated in the context of that environment.For the NY-ers: I once attended a talk by Danny Meyer where he explained how Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, and the Shake Shack had vastly different levels of service but the same degree of hospitality.

  47. markslater

    …but when done right its marvellous.There is a four seasons hotel in hampshire that we visited this summer with the children.My son was not sleeping so i was walking the halls at midnight with him in a stroller. a fine gentleman found me and insisted that i get down to the drawing room where he would bring me a pot of tea.i sat there staring at sebastian, sipping tea and reminding myself of how great a brand the four seasons is. I am a VERY occasional four seasons guest… to be clear!When pampering is done right, it can be the most wonderful branding attribute.

  48. Tracey Jackson

    Because I can’t shut up and thought about this all the way to the dog groomer who is providing a service and my dogs will assure you is not pampering. Is it also a question of semantics? I think of pampering as over the top things one might not need but want to indulge or coddle oneself. Massage. Five Star Hotel. Etc. But then there is service which is doing jobs that are needed, but often not glamorous.No?Pamperverbpast tense: pampered; past participle: pampered1.indulge with every attention, comfort, and kindness; spoil.”famous people just love being pampered”synonyms:spoil, indulge, overindulge, cosset, mollycoddle, coddle, baby, wait on someone hand and footserv·iceˈsərvisnoun1.the action of helping or doing work for someone.”millions are involved in voluntary service”synonyms:favor, kindness, good turn, helping hand; Morean act of assistance.plural noun: services”he has done us a great service”synonyms:favor, kindness, good turn, helping hand; Moreassistance or advice given to customers during and after the sale of goods.”they aim to provide better quality of service”the action or process of serving food and drinks to customers.”they complained of poor bar service”synonyms:waiting, waitressing, serving, attendance

  49. Paul Sanwald

    I also don’t like being pampered at all. But, I am from the south, and was taught to always hold the door for a lady, and always do that. Early on in our relationship, my wife wasn’t used to this, and I remember getting very annoyed at her for not letting me hold the door for her.I’d imagine that in addition to the jobs angle, there’s a fair amount of pride in the equation as well. I know that in my professional life I pride myself in being a “full service shop” and making it as easy as possible on my clients and colleagues. In some cases, I can see how this could be seen as similar.

  50. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    It comes from being American, Fred.I’ve got no problems being pampered.

  51. Elia Freedman

    I don’t want to rely on other people. I prefer to do things myself. That’s how I was raised and that is how I am. It isn’t guilt. It is self sufficiency. I don’t think you should feel bad about not liking it, either. But you also have to accept the fact that you don’t like it and be okay about that.

  52. Alex Meyer

    I also struggle greatly with being pampered. My biggest issue with it is probably guilt, as your wife suggests. I know that it’s their job to pamper that is not the issue, I think the issue stems from the fact that the cost of this pampering is hidden. When someone gets a massage they are directly relating the cost to the pampering and therefore it doesn’t seem strange. However when someone buys a hotel room, the pampering they receive from the bellhop is hidden (not directly listed in the hotel charges). This is probably why I largely overtip when traveling internationally, especially in places where tipping isn’t the norm.Tough one to get used to I guess.

  53. ShanaC

    Pampered – someone reading David Foster Wallace to me 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      Are you a DFW fan?

      1. dms21

        I am. ‘This is water’…great speech by DFW.

  54. David A. Frankel

    I am very much the same way, and I think it’s driven by control and trust. When you are very particular about how you like things (big and small) done, or don’t trust they will be done by someone else the way you want it, then you just want to do it yourself. For me, this includes almost always using self check outs at the grocery store as well as a natural distaste for getting gas in NJ (where all gas is pumped “full serve” only).I have found that once a hotel or service provider (i.e. a driver, a barber, a housekeeper, etc) I use gets to know me and how I like things done, then I let my guard down and allow myself to be “pampered”. BTW my wife is largely the opposite, so it makes for interesting vacation discussion about loosening up.So in the example you provided, I would say the service provider is actually doing a good job when they recognize someone that doesn’t like pampering, and to be there when the customer is ready to accept it.

  55. JLM

    .I’ve just been lounging around on Daufuskie Island where the service is beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. If you have never been to DI you should go to pamper yourself. It is the next island from Hilton Head and is the other side of the mirror from HH.No bridge, ferry only. You are the only passenger on your hour long ride through the Low Country marsh lands. The trip is a treat in and of itself. No cars, golf carts only. Almost no people but three great golf courses. If I saw a single foursome on Melrose Plantation, that would have been worthy of note.Of course, the kids are all back at college and school now, so there are no crowds.Horses, miles of trails and riding on the beach and a huge maritime forest. There is a pool with exquisite service. You feel offended if there are more than 6 people at the pool. Turn your head to the left, they bring you a mojito. To the right, you get a frozen pina colado. Nod and you get a cheeseburger. It is a damn good system.Coastal architecture with lovely little ocean front cottages. Just lovely. Like a beach camp. High ceilings, screened porches, beadboard everywhere, lovely trim work. Very Southern, beachy and cottagy.So, not having to be back to Texas until the Horns play this Saturday (we all have our own disciplines), we decided to hang out for a few days on Hilton Head. HH is where the onrushing flow of Yankees collides with the South — it is no man’s land but a very nice no man’s land. I even saw some Yankees eating country ham and grits. Assimilation is lovely to see.We are staying at a Holiday Inn on the beach because it was a spur of the moment kind of thing. Wow, a single room — no extra bedrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room, screened in porch, golf cart, horse, bicycle (well, rented bikes), no pool boys — this is really roughing it.Being a child of the beach, I dig in my own encampment (trained to dig in every time I stopped moving back in a different line of work a long time ago) and erect my own umbrellas, chairs, ice chest, blankets. Great fun.Bottom line, there is a time and place for everything but I must confess to missing the mojitos. Seems like such a burden to have to walk to the Tiki Bar and get my own damn mojito — I get a double in revenge.The ultimate balancing act is tipping. There is no place in Hell for those who over tip. Try it, I promise you will like the feeling.Pro tip: Enjoy your journey because you are only coming this way once, amigo.JLM.

    1. William Mougayar

      What happens if you wiggle your big toe?

      1. JLM

        .Tall blonde?JLM.

        1. William Mougayar

          Like this? you got it.

          1. JLM

            .Exactly! Well played.JLM.

          2. pointsnfigures

            Hotty Toddy JLM, my daughter’s Ole Miss Rebels visit Austin this year. Watch out for them. They are improved.

    2. fredwilson

      I am a ridiculous overtipper and it annoys the Gotham Gal to no end

      1. LE

        GG was raised in a business family iirc. That makes sense. It’s about value and bang for a buck.I’ll give you an example with my dad. He is generally a pretty light tipper at restaurants. Doesn’t give more than he needs to type of tipper.But when the boys come to shovel his snow he always tips them a huge amount.You know why?Not because they are boys and not because he cares.Because the next time it snows he wants to be the first house that they come to and he doesn’t want to have to wait. He wants to be that good customer that they remember.So he sees it simply as good business. It’s about value and what you get for the money to him. [1]I think what GG needs to do is simply file you tipping the amount you tip under “entertainment” in the sense that when you leaving a big tip merely makes you feel good and/or avoids a negative in your mind. Which are really the reasons that motivate most people to leave tips (other than social obligation which is really avoiding a negative I would argue). Of course every now and then it’s just manic appreciation for a job well done but most of the time it is either avoiding a negative or because it makes you feel good. [2][1] My dad, because he is a holocaust survivor is probably the type that (in addition to value by the snow shovel example) ranks higher on the scale of “feel good” rather than “avoid a negative”. Negatives don’t bother him.[2] I was at a hotel and didn’t have a cable that I needed. So I asked two maintenance guys if they had one and they did and took about 5 minutes to clean off the gunk and give it to me. I was so manic and appreciative I was ready to give them $20 to thank them (but had no money on me). Then a funny thing happened. As time wore on the mania left and I no longer felt as appreciative. When I left and gave them the cable back I gave them only $5 each. They didn’t even remember who I was.

  56. Guest

    I’m with you on pampering. The post makes me think of privilege, though.When you breathe clean air out on the island (the other island, that is) or swim in that water, I’m guessing you don’t give it much thought. It’s less obvious and intrusive a privilege, but a privilege nonetheless, afforded to those who can pay for the train or gas for the car to make the trek (lodging not necessary).

  57. Jeffrey Hartmann

    Fred,I love good service, but I tend to agree with you that someone who is trying to take care of my every need is not something I am comfortable with most of the time. Some of it is downright creepy (as you mentioned elsewhere on the thread the restroom attendant), and unless I’m really struggling I would rather do things myself unless I specifically ask for help.I do however like a different kind of pampering. Men don’t get a cultural opportunity to really have things done for them in the same way that is common for women in our society. Women get their hair and nails done, pedicures, massages, etc. I absolutely LOVE this sort of pampering, my most guilty pleasure along these lines is a classic hot towel shave with a straight razor. I will be in a zen-like state for HOURS after a shave. I also occasionally go along with my wife for a pedicure and foot massage.

  58. reece

    i’m the same waygrowing up in the restaurant/catering business, i often find myself at events where i identify more with the bartenders and waiters than i do with the other guestsit’s a fine line – and i’ve had to learn not to start clearing my own dishes at formal dinners – but it can be tread elegantly if conversations are enacted with graciousnessafter all, we’re just a bunch of human beings trying to get from A to B, from now until then…

  59. JR

    I can fix this for you Fred. Send me all your money and you won’t have to deal with this pampering problem again. 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      It bothered me when I had no money, when I made my first money, when I lost it all and was broke, and nowTrust me it has nothing to do with how much money I have

      1. JR

        I believe it. But now this post is vaccinated against a “first-world problems” thread.Seriously, I love DFW but think he misdiagnoses the issue to his own benefit here anyway. What none of us reading and commenting on AVC have is patience, the ability to let things happen in their own time. It’s a vice that pays off in many situations. Unfortunately, vacation is not one of those situations.

  60. sigmaalgebra

    Ah, just think of it as some fantasystage play where you play a role.

  61. Govind Kabra

    More than pampering, this is an issue of the diversity of work specialization across different countries. Evolution enforces a degree of specialization in individual’s art and skills, such that we depend on others for services they specialize in.For example, when in US, you schedule a pick from UPS, you would not consider that pampering.. but that kind of service is used very little in developing worlds, people drop off their packages at postal offices. More starkingly, in developed countries, you depend so heavily on machines to do your work.. you dont consider that pampering, e.g., dishwasher, washing machine, car wash. These are still consider luxuries and high class in developing countries, people would wash utensils, clothes, cars, by hand.

  62. daryn

    I almost always carry my own bags, sometimes like a pack mule, because, for whatever reason it seems “easier”. No one’s ever offered to open my yogurt for me though, I might take them up on that!

    1. LE

      My wife and I got room service recently two nights in a row at a large nice hotel.On the first night the man came and delivered the food (was middle aged like someone with a family, respectable, well groomed, maybe he held a corporate job and got laid off I was thinking).Anyway he delivers the food and a drink and points out that the drink has not been made so would I like him to take the ice and make the drink?I said “sure”.So he makes the drink, gives me the bill and I leave a tip on the room charge. I didn’t leave 18% or anything like that I think I gave him $10 which was much less than any standard tip for the amount of the bill. I don’t normally order room service and never for a full dinner we always go out.Anyway next night the same guy comes back and he definitely remembered that he had been there the night before. But this time he doesn’t offer to make the drink, a very clear signal that the tip the night before wasn’t up to snuff. So I guess he was sending a message?Now at that point I could have tipped him more (and taken the hint) or tipped the same. I decided to tip the same figuring that the act of making me feel bad for not tipping enough wasn’t a reason to change what I had done.My parting thought was that one of the reasons he was doing this job was simply a bad attitude. In other words he couldn’t get beyond the fact that the tip the night before was not good and decided to send me a message.Bad for him since I had been thinking that maybe the tip was a bit light and I was actually inclined to tip a larger amount the 2nd night but he gave me all the reason (by his attitude) not to do that. I hate people with bad attitudes more than bad service.

  63. Angela Min

    Mr. Wilson, your posts are my daily dose of tech wisdom and the occasional reverie on life and I enjoy them very much, thank you!But if I may? A piece of wisdom I learned the hard way…Receiving is just as important as giving. Receiving is part of the cycle of giving. It is a willingness to be “indebted” to someone. A willingness to say thank you, I am grateful to you. It is an investment you make into your personal gratitude bank – and as we know, investments are a great way of paying it forward, to create something worthy in this world. :)If I may suggest … allow yourself to receive. Gifts are coming to us everyday, at every moment – the obvious ones wrapped in a present, or the less obvious ones, like a kind word from a person, or even, a lesson to be learned. As with all things in life, it doesn’t matter so much what we “get” in life, as it does, how we turn it around to put it back out into the world.Angie

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks. This is great advice and given without judgment. I appreciate it very much.

      1. Angela Min

        Thank you for your kind words

  64. Adam Kearney

    Fred, have you read “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” by DFW? Brief Interview #42″ has the son of porter telling the story of his father. It is a very complementary piece.John Kransiski adapted parts of the book into a short film. You can see the porter scene here but I would recommend reading the original (p. 73).What other Wallace have you read? Any favorites?

    1. fredwilson

      Well I have tried and failed to get through Infinite Jest several times. I love his essays. Thanks for your suggestion

      1. Adam Kearney

        The key to Infinite Jest is Hamlet. Hamlet is where he gets his title (“Alas, poor Yorick… a fellow of infinite jest”). Hamlet’s opening line is the key: “Who’s there?” Shakespeare doesn’t answer with “Fred.” That answers what rather than who. Shakespeare instead allows us into the consciousness of the characters in order to understand their who and ultimately renaissance man’s who (I don’t know how to express that without sounding pompous). In IJ, Wallace sought to update Shakespeare’s question by allowing us into the consciousness of contemporary man and confront our who (again, pompous sounding).Another pointer, the answer is in the first scene. The rest of the book ultimately tells three stories that all have the same meaning but expressed in different ways that all support the first scene. The first scene is chronologically the last. You should take another shot.

        1. fredwilson

          thanks!i will

  65. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    You guys have no idea about pamperedCheck this…This was a real job – and far more in the way of Bathroom attendant than we may ever dream of (or dread). I happened to pick this up because one of my business partners is a namesake ofAnthony Denny (16 January 1501 – 10 September 1549) was a confidant of Henry VIII of England. Denny was the most prominent member of the Privy chamber in Henry’s last years having, together with his brother-in-law John Gates, charge of the “dry stamp” of Henry’s signature, and attended Henry on his deathbed. He also served as Groom of the Stool.

  66. RyanM

    My girlfriend and I just got back from five months traveling the world and encountered the exact same thing, but in a different book. It gave us a new perspective on my usual resistance of being pampered. I’m glad I read it at the start of the trip. I included the quote at the bottom.I also think the reaction includes something deeper than guilt. I think pride is squeaming in there too.In my mind, I am autonomous, a do-it-yourselfer, a scrappy kid who came from Midwestern public school and made his way into high finance in the big city without one network connection. Making my own path is part of the identity I hold for myself, part of my personal narrative in my head. So when help is forced upon me, or someone makes me feel part of a higher, non-scrappy class, I unconsciously buck. I don’t want to put them out, but also, I believe I can do it myself because that’s the way I’ve always done it. Plus, somewhere deep inside, there’s a “hey man, I’m an Average Joe too. I started out making tips as a busser, not far from you.”The hardest part of graciously accepting such help was swallowing our pride. When you travel from a ‘first world country’ to a developing country, just by virtue of economies and exchange rates you are in a different economic bracket: Middle Class American wealth translates to Upper Crust Impoverished-Developing-Countryman wealth. That’s just how it is.We changed our perspectives and saw this as an opportunity to spread some economies around. So we let people carry our bags, and we didn’t haggle to save $2 in the market but instead paid asking price (much to their gleeful surprise). And the only thing we really paid in the end was a little pride.From Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, which I highly recommend:________”You know, I actually ran into Prabaker today. He told me to ask you about the water, whatever that means.””Oh, yeah,” I laughed. “Just yesterday, I went down from my hotel to meet Prabaker on the street. But on the stairwell, there were these Indian guys, one after the other, carrying big pots of water on their heads, and climbing the stairs. I had to stand against the wall to let them pass. When I made it to the bottom, I saw this big wooden barrel with iron-rimmed wheels attached to it. It was a kind of water wagon. Another guy was using a bucket, and he was dipping it into the barrel and filling the big carry- pots with water.”I watched this for ages, and the men made a lot of trips, up and down the stairs. When Prabaker came along, I asked him what they were doing. He told me that that was the water for my shower. That the shower came from a tank on the roof, and that these men filled the tank with their pots.””Of course.””Yeah, you know that, and I know that now, but yesterday was the first I heard of it. In this heat, I’ve been in the habit of taking three showers a day. I never realised that men had to climb six flights of stairs, to fill a damn tank, so that I could take those showers. I felt horrible about it, you know? I told Prabaker I’d never take another shower in that hotel again. Not ever.””What did he say?””He said, No, no you don’t understand. He called it a people-job. It’s only because of tourists like me, he explained, that those men have a job. And he told me that each man is supporting a family of his own from his wages. You should have three showers, four showers, even five showers every day, he told me.”She nodded in agreement.”Then he told me to watch the men while they got themselves ready to run through the city again, pushing their water wagon. And I think I knew what he meant, what he wanted me to see. They were strong, those guys. They were strong and proud and healthy. They weren’t begging or stealing. They were working hard to earn their way, and they were proud of it. When they ran off into the traffic, with their strong muscles, and getting a few sly looks from some of the young Indian girls, I saw that their heads were up and their eyes straight ahead.””And you still take a shower in the hotel?””Three a day,” I laughed.

    1. JLM

      .Fabulous. Well played. Thank you.The dignity and empowerment of work.JLM.

    2. Drew Meyers

      Absolutely love that water story. Thank you for sharing.Given you just traveled for 5 months, I’d love to chat with you for 5-10 minutes – curious what aspects of traveling abroad you feel could be improved (I’m working on a travel startup).

  67. BradDorchinecz

    I feel the same way Fred, and while we are on it, I get uncomfortable when people older than me are required to address me as “Mr. Dorchinecz”. I know it often is a club rule but I don’t think I will ever be comfortable with it.

  68. Guest

    Boy is this going to come off as awkward … oh well, who cares. Fred, do you ever get a massage and does that bother you?

  69. Mark Essel

    Don’t accept the pampering. There’re enough folks out there who like carrying their own bags.

  70. You As A Machine

    For me it has nothing to do with guilt. For me the “luxury” of being “pampered is overrated. I am capable of looking after myself and enjoy being physically active. Doing the non-exercise activities throughout the day are the things that keep our body and mind healthy.But having said that, when on holiday in other countries where there are people employed whose livelihood depends upon the travel industry then one should participate in those customs, or go somewhere else; which is what I generally choose to do. Or I will let the front desk know what our preferences are: not requiring daily housekeeping and setting the boundaries for what will ensure a restful holiday for our needs. We will still leave a generous tip at the end of the week to our housekeeping staff who didn’t ‘get’ to do their job, but supplied us with fresh towels!I had a friend who lived in a rental suite for a period of time in a remote rural town in India. One day a knock at the door introduced the cleaning lady. The next day, a knock at the door introduced the young lady whose job was to clean only the toilets. My friend sent the toilet cleaner away, “Oh, it’s OK, I can do it myself.” Not realizing the significance and income that that job brought to the young lady’s life.It is difficult sometimes, but we need to look at the bigger picture.

  71. denmeade

    I had an accident quite a few years ago that left me with injuries affecting my mobility. At the time a number of close friends commented on how much they thought I’d struggle accepting help. It’s not quite the same as being pampered (which I can enjoy, under the right circumstances) but it has been interesting figuring out when and how to let people help me with things, without feeling as though I’m surrendering a sense of independence and self-sufficiency that I’ve always valued.

  72. ldouglas

    I think the dislike of pampering is ultimately, for me at least, that I’m not in the situation for the purpose to be pampered; so it likely seems forced upon me.Regardless that I may be, with what would be, at a place where a someone waits on my stuff, I am not there because they are (e.g. porter, valet, free-drink server, towel handler), I am there because it is there (e.g. hotel, restaurant, airport, washroom).It is my flow that has brought me to the situation in a utilitarian fashion, so going with someone else’s flow seems needlessly inefficient and disruptive.



  74. Dale Allyn

    Fun topic, and one which strikes a nerve with me as well, Fred. I was in airplanes and airports for the past 26 hours, so missed this post as it developed.I like to do things myself, but at the same time I don’t want to diminish the value of the service staff’s work in any way. It can be frustrating at times. I’ve witnessed managers berate staff for letting me do things myself and I felt bad about it.I haven’t read all the comments (normally I do before commenting), so perhaps it’s been mentioned: some hotels are more obsessive about the luggage thing because they don’t want other guests to endure the guy who insists on schlepping his bag and golf clubs into the lift (often to avoid giving a tip). Small bags go fine, but having stayed hundreds of nights in good hotels in Thailand, and spent a lot of time talking with their general management, there are some hospitality (guest experience) issues involved. But it’s nuanced and shouldn’t be run like the unions at Javits Center (just an example) that won’t let you carry your own poster to your booth.

  75. Daniel So

    first world problems..

  76. Ryan Cole

    He who pampers needs to be pampered. If you were to pamper who/what would that be ?

  77. The Heasman

    As a young guy who has an extended Nigerian family, where the culture is that your expected to pamper your elders, I grew up with an antagonising response by becoming proud in my own self-sufficiency.If I could do it, I won’t ask people younger than me to do it. Because I hated it when people did that to me. Asking me to get them water from the fridge, simply because they were lazy, and they had seniority. While the natural response is “When your older you can do this to.”, I followed the dictum, “Do unto others as you’ll have them do to you.”I don’t like being helped in something that I have the capacity to do. However I do like being helped in something I can’t do. Everyone values that.Now it’s different if I’m bone tired, stressed, just got chewed out and just mentally drained. Then, I might welcome pampering.But as long as I got my mental and physical faculties, I prefer to do the simple things which I don’t find a nuisance.

  78. Dave Pinsen

    David Foster Wallace was quoted in this piece on Pynchon (who, it turns out, is living in New York now).Re this post, you’re apparently not alone in having this feeling. Roger Ehrenberg expressed a similar view a couple of years ago. I blogged about it, contrasting it with an earlier idea of noblesse oblige, here.

  79. AbbeyPost

    This is fantastic. I think that as successful, dare I say privileged, upper middle class -white- Americans, particularly those of is in the Northeast, there’s a very natural tendency to abhor any inklings of servitude from those around us. Whose job, as in this funny excerpt, it is to in fact …serve us. Not because we deserve it, and not because they’re forced to. But simply because we’re the paying customer without whom they would have no jobs.I’ve managed to battle my own discomfort in this area somewhat successfully by always working hard to treat anyone in a service job with real genuine courtesy–human to human–and by actually observing how happy it can make someone to feel appreciated for what is undoubtedly hard work.Another layer to this for me is that I’m Jewish, so I’m super good at feeling guilty, and of course can identify a great deal with the concept of disenfranchisement. (Plus: battling modern stereotypes about the Jewish American Princess).All that said, though, I can’t be home when the housekeeper comes. I feel like some plantation belle swanning about with a mint julep. Even though my housekeeper happens to be Colombian by birth and a US citizen.Haha!

  80. arustgi

    There is an episode in ‘downton abbey’ where matthew faces the same dilemma as he ‘meets’ the old order where there are people to ‘do everything for you’. The show the character going through the same feelings: those of guilt & and of dependence.But he discovers through the following episodes that the helpers’ sense of being, their identity is derived from their relationship to the lords and landlords. Also he realizes the responsibility he has towards them as their lord / landlord i.e. without his patronage those folks have nothing to do, nowhere to go.Once he realizes it and accepts it, he does not mind being ‘pampered’

  81. riemannzeta

    I’m with you. I don’t want other people doing stuff for me. In my case, it’s less likely to be guilt. I think it’s fear that if I don’t keep the habit, then one day I won’t be able to.Besides that nobody likes a prima donna.

  82. David F

    Great passage from DFW, reminds me of a passage in obama’s speech at the lincoln memorial yesterday (for the commemoration of MLK’s 1963 speech): “pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work”

  83. Hutchy

    I’d suggest if you feel awkward in these pampered situations stop going to places that pamper you. It’s a fair sign you aren’t in a place that you like or want to be in.In this example instead of a cruise take a bus or a car. Instead of using hotels with bell boys use airbnb or couch surfing.In my experience going your own way and doing it yourself is far more rewarding.

  84. andyidsinga

    its not guilt. sheesh. sounds like you just like doing certain things yourself. Plus being pampered can feel like an invasion of your personal space.I always just roll with it while travelling – especially around anything food related 🙂 Staying off the organized tours will drop it down a few notches too.

  85. Shurtleff

    Fred two thoughts1: raised by depression era parents, it was deeply engrained in our family that regardless of circumstance, you carried your own stuff, something about being willing to do anything is good for you.2: on the investing side, there is almost NOTHING more off-putting then having an entrepreneur pass and email introduction off to their assistant to set up a meeting pretty much kills the deal from the get go. in a small firm we manage our calendars and aren’t very excited about our $ being used to manage someone else’s…