Cadbury the Butler Q&A

Eccentric Employers

Dear Cadbury,
I am in a new House Management position and while I like the family, I have a problem. Mr. yells a lot. Mrs. ignores him, and the other staff fades away when he is in one of his moods. I know his office staff just put up with it. It is not related to drink or such, but just that he would rather shout for or at a particular staff person such as myself, than to come find us, ring the staff phone or just tell us whatever in a normal voice. Any suggestions? I find this to be humiliating.

Dear NY,
The behavior of your employer is not likely to change. As Mr. Ferry pointed out in a recent article in this newsletter, the interview is the time to find out as much as you can about the people you are going to be closely tied to in private service. Whenever possible, speak to the other staff in private.

You should mention your concern at a regular meeting with your employer. I would probably be updating my resume if I were you.
– Cadbury

Dear Cadbury,
I have had my butler for three years, and I have a problem. I have consulted my attorney and he tells me I simply cannot possible tell him how I feel. But… I have fallen in love with this man and want to move him from employee to much, much more. I get the feeling that he feels the same way but cannot voice his feeling because he is my employee. Do you think it’s safe to tell him how I feel?

If I fire him he would feel so hurt that he would never speak to me again and if I risk telling him how I feel he could sue me for sexual harassment. (I don’t think this would happen, but I cannot risk being sued for millions) In my social circle I have people trying to get me to date all the time…. He asks why I don’t go and I tell him I have my eye on someone special, he never asks whom. He is my best friend and has never in the entire time that he has worked for me ever dated or showed interest in anyone. How can I cross this divide without risking everything?

Any thoughts you might have would be greatly appreciated.
Head of the House

Dear Head of the House,
Along with consulting your attorney, you may wish to seek some psychological advice to help you understand this romantic interest in your Butler and help you determine if it is real or motivated by some other hidden reasons.

Actually the situation of employers or members of an employer family getting fond and too familiar with staff is an age-old situation. Private service staff often gets to know their employers intimately and this can develop into romantic attraction. It is not a workable situation in a staffed household. My recommendation is to:

* Seek professional help to get over this unreciprocated and inappropriate attraction and move on allowing the Butler to do his job and live his life or

* Dismiss the Butler with adequate notice and in a decent manner without a confession from you and move on
– Cadbury

Editor’s Note: Other Bulletin Board readers posted these comments (abbreviated)

* Perhaps have him accompany you on a trip, on a professional basis, but then have him join you in various circumstances perhaps on the pretext of you not wanting to be alone. I’m sure he’d be more comfortable joining you for dinner whilst you were both in a strange place and then you’d be able to get to know him better, one step at a time rather than just blurting out “Jeeves, I love you!”

* I do not believe that letter to be real. It sounds rather “dreamy” and perhaps something from a romantic novel.

* Perhaps the butler will also be a “secret sultan” from a distant country looking for a spouse who can love him for “him” and not his millions.

It can happen and in fact happened to a friend of mine, however it did not work as friends and family constantly treated him as ‘The Butler’ alike.

Dear Cadbury,
I entered a job a few months ago that I thought I should like. But after a few weeks the owners began taking advantage of me daily… I really thought this was rude for them to do. Besides the woman owner is a neurotic mess and her husband is an alcoholic!! I’m having a hard time leaving and they want a months notice….What do I do, should I just leave or what? I have never had a job that has drained me so emotionally, and a boss that is so cheap and uncaring. Please help, even though I know your answer already. Thanks!

Dear SF,
It sounds as though you accepted a position without really understanding the expectations, and now you are not happy because the job is not meeting your needs. Not everyone is cut out for private service. If one is not emotionally self confident and strong in this profession, then often one becomes disillusioned because of some unrealistic expectations of being in service. However, long-term professional private service is totally built on a relationship of mutual respect. If the employer’s drinking habits or personality cause this key bond between you to be diminished or ignored, then it is time to leave. On the issue of notice time, two weeks is the norm, but in an abusive situation no notice is required.
– Cadbury