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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners: ‘Climbing’ about more than money

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I wish to climb the social ladder.

Right now, I am a preschool teacher, but I plan on making a career change, and would like to already have connections with the “right” people to help ensure my success. I plan on becoming a certified aesthetic laser technician.

I do not want to “claw” my way to the top. Instead, I simply want to make good, meaningful relationships and acquaintances with sincere, decent upper-class people, and hopefully meet someone to marry from this group. In other words, I wish to do it politely.

GENTLE READER: A bad idea? It is an etiquetteer’s nightmare.

Here we try to encourage such civilized behavior as compassion, respect and consideration for others, and we get socked with a reputation for teaching how to cozy up to the rich.

Partly this is the fault of advice offered during the 19th-century Industrial Revolution to those whose fortunes had improved dramatically. Different subgroups of society have different surface ways of doing things, and the etiquette books of the time offered instruction on the habits of people they were now likely to encounter.

But somehow that got translated into such foolish ideas as that etiquette leads to riches, and that the rich are well-behaved.

Your method of classifying people is not the one Miss Manners uses. When you speak of the “right” people, you obviously mean rich people.

So there is one finely tuned sense characteristic of the rich of which you should be aware. That is the ability to sniff out those who are after their money.

Society is fortunate that hordes of social climbers strive through philanthropy. If not for the hope of whatever they consider upward mobility, there would be far less charity. However, this is done at the committee and board level by people who already have money but are nevertheless in pursuit of those who have had money longer. This lets you out.

The long and short of it is that Miss Manners cannot get you a Fifth Avenue penthouse. And she is afraid that she would have no interest in doing so if she could.