Guest blogger, travel writer Sophie Pither, on why New Yorkers’ upfront attitude means they’re more likely to hire a lifestyle concierge
I was in New York’s midtown recently, caught in a summer downpour and struggling to hail a cab. Despite waving my hands in desperation, none of the iconic yellow taxis were stopping. There was a guy on the corner – one of those people trying to get tourists to go on a sightseeing bus tour. I approached him from behind and tapped his shoulder. He turned quickly and without missing a beat, said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ I was taken aback, and stumbled Britishly over my words. ‘Erm, sorry, I was just… erm, do you know how I might hail a cab?’ He looked at me, and instructed, ‘Yes, keep doing what you’re doing.’
Was he rude? Maybe. But he was also direct, and actually reasonably helpful – he didn’t want to be touched and he said so (hey, this is a city where people carry guns), but he also told me I was doing the right thing. And this upfront directness is my overriding impression of New York. People say what they mean, ‘Don’t touch me,’ ‘Mayo on the side,’ ‘Eggs sunny side up.’ This way, everyone’s clear about what’s needed. There’s little of our British tone of apology in evidence. Think about how many times us Brits start a request with, ‘I’m sorry, but…’, or ‘Excuse me, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but…’
A related American institution that’s all about directness is the concierge. You find them in the lobby of apartment buildings, in hotels, offices or even privately hired lifestyle concierges. These people are brilliant. Stay in an Airbnb apartment and you’re likely to encounter one. One place we considered had its own butler who also served the owners of the space, and lived with them one floor down – and the 4-bed apartment was just £146 per night for a couple, or £183 if four people stay. In America, the idea that you hire help (lifestyle manager, lifestyle concierge, or butler) doesn’t mean you’re rolling in cash.
This idea of hiring a lifestyle concierge to help you out with your day-to-day – admin, travel bookings, taking post, relaying messages, getting a cab in the rain, sorting your dry-cleaning, cooking a meal, is a good one. A reasonably successful New Yorker thinks – without apology – I don’t have time to do these jobs, I’ll get someone else to help. Whereas a lot of us Brits somehow feel guilty about this idea. It’s time to put aside the guilt and contribute to the service economy, NYC-style.
Of course, hotel concierges have long been over here too. But the idea of hiring your own personal lifestyle concierge or a concierge for your business is still gaining traction. Yes, the rich and famous may be on to it already, but increasingly the rest of us are able to hire help too. At 14fiftyseven, they’re pushing the idea of people having their own lifestyle manager, and I’m all for that. Instead of behaving Britishly and taking on the burden of multiple unwanted menial tasks, rejig the way you look at your life and hire someone to do that stuff for you, and start reaping the benefit of time and a stress-free life.
At the moment you may hire a cleaner, perhaps a gardener, au pair or nanny to help out. But why not get someone to help with all the other jobs you need doing too from organising dinner parties to taking the kids to football training or the dog for a run around. It’s not too much of a leap to see how useful this could be. Be more New York – ask directly for help.
By guest blogger, travel writer Sophie Pither
Thanks to Sophie for writing this for us. If you’d like to discuss hiring a lifestyle manager, lifestyle concierge or butler – call it what you like – we have people who can help you live your best NYC-style life. Call me, Susie Osborough on +44 (0) 208 616 1457, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our online enquiry form to discuss everything from your needs to budget.
14fiftyseven. Because we’ve been there.