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A. Alfred Taubman will be sentenced today in the Sotheby's price-fixing scandal. Taubman and I grew up in the same town (Pontiac, MI), and he made his considerable fortune through real estate -- primarily the shopping malls where I wasted my youth. He was a famous bizillionaire in my town. Our own little Rockefeller. I, of course, never met the man, but he touched my life in a magical way:

In 1994, I was working at National Chain Bookstore #2 in Bloomfield Hills, MI, while trying to find a teaching job. I was a "department manager" (translation: 10 times the responsibility as the booksellers for an extra 50 cents an hour), and I got called to the registers to help with a return. A woman had brought back 4 shopping bags' worth of books, with no receipt. Our policy for such a procedure was to issue a store credit. I started scanning the books (mostly children's titles) back in and noticed several that didn't show up in the computer, meaning they didn't come from our store. Some of the books were old enough to be out of print, some were from foreign publishers we didn't carry, some were inscribed and therefore considered unreturnable according to our policy. We were told to be very strict about the policy, you know. I called the store manager, an obsequious little child of privilege who seemed to think managing a National Chain Bookstore at Maple & Telegraph was her ticket to the society pages, that her favors for the obscenely wealthy would make them think of her as more than just "the help."

"Janice, we don't carry half of these books."

"Take them back anyway."

"Why? We can't resell these. Some of them are inscribed."

"That customer called earlier to say she was bringing the books in. She's Alfred Taubman's personal assistant."

"So, we're paying him to clean out his library?"

"Just take the books back."

So, I did. I made out a store credit for nearly $450 to a multimillionaire. A philanthropist who could have donated the books to a library or a school if he didn't want them anymore. Lesson: store policies, like most rules, do not apply to rich people.

Replies: 2 Confessions

Aaaand he gets a year.

jima @ 04/22/2002 11:08 AM CST

The wealthiest people in my town are usually too ignorant to believe. Many of the women (and girls) have little or no formal education beyond high school, but they live in the lap of luxury because their daddies knew some rich bastards' daddies, and so the precious little darlings took the opportunity to marry their meal tickets. In turn, those meal tickets -who usually majored in business just so they could have a diploma to hang on the wall in their offices in daddy's business- had their snotty, bitchy little trophy wives. And they hang out at the country clubs and look down their long, ugly noses at the rest of us. And somewhere in this mix, Neal Boortz and Rush Limbaugh tell me that those rich, ignorant dumbasses are somehow "better" than I am. Well, screw 'em all. As someone before me once said, what good will their money and prestige do them when they get sick from HIV or God-Only-Knows-What? I want to punch them in the face when they give me old car dirty looks, or shoot dirty glances at me when I get off from work and am filthy from EARNING my paycheck. Most of the wealthy people around here are total assholes. Some of them are highly educated, but they're personal injury lawyers who are so wrapped up in their arrogance that they can't see beyond their useless egos. They cut you off in traffic in their Mercedses, and when you honk they flip you off. They think they can push you around but they always hold up their little cell phones if you say anything in response, as though you're supposed to be intimidated by the prospect of them calling 911. Hell, I tell them off anyway -using clean language- and if they want to call 911 they will only discredit their character. Speaking of rich assholes, I hope Michael Moore chokes on one of the many half-gallons of ice cream he doubtless eats every day, the fat ignorant bastard.

Rob Adcox @ 08/12/2005 12:53 AM CST

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