ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Civil Servant Meets the Prince and the Pauper

Updated on August 19, 2012

As a Letter Carrier for the U.S. Postal Service back in the early 80’s I had the opportunity to meet a variety of characters while working in the lower east side of New York City. Although my Post Office's delivery zone was only a total distance of 20 city blocks, the demographics were diverse as it contained both the infamous poor of the Bowery, as well the mega-rich aristocrats of Gramercy Park living in their multi-million dollar townhomes complete with maids, butlers and chauffeurs.

My job was interesting to say the least. Each day would bring a whole new meaning to the term culture shock. One day I would be delivering mail in one of the toughest areas of New York known as “Alphabet City” where I would be exposed to drug addicts, prostitutes and the homeless and the very next day I would be working in Gramercy Park, meeting some of the richest people in the world.

Being an impressionable 20 year old kid, these experiences would sculpt the way I viewed and judged people for the rest of my life. During this time I would meet the poorest of the poor as well as the elite of our society and everyone in between.

While working in the poor part of the zone, I found out there was nothing to fear. The community was unadulterated and hard working. The people understood and respected that I was there to do my job and most of the time I even sensed that they were looking out for me. When someone said “good morning” or asked “how are you”, you got the feeling they really meant it.

While working in the “elite section” of Gramercy Park I quickly learned that I was not considered an equal, not even by the doormen, as I was often directed to make my way to the freight entrance along with the other “servants”. I remember my first encounter with a cranky concierge who made it very clear that the civil servants had no business being in such close proximity to the tenants of the building. At the time I was more confused than angry but complied with the orders not to use the same entrance as the building residents.

As months rolled by I learned the ins and outs of navigating the beautiful apartment buildings and townhomes strategically surrounding Gramercy Park. On rare occasions some of the residents would actually seek me out to inquire about a package or have a question about forwarding their mail to their summer homes.

One day while sorting my mail in one of the beautifully decorated mailrooms, I was approached by a middle-age man named Bill who decided to strike up a conversation with me while waiting for his mail. I would later learn that this man owned the Penthouse apartment. He began by finding some common ground between us and explained that while in college he actually working for the postal service as a “temp” employee. Eager to hear more I momentarily stopped working and turned toward him. Wow, I thought, here is a self-made man. He obviously must understand the working class as he himself apparently worked his way up the ladder and now has a ton of money!

Much to my surprise and dismay, Bill proceeded to brag to me how, after college in 1963, his Grandmother gave him $150,000 to start his first business venture and the rest was “history”. Holy cow I thought - $150K in the 1960’s! What kind of money did this guy have now? He ended his story by stating how proud he was that he made something of himself and did not have to work for anyone. Then he turned and flashed a descending smirk. Bill did not bother to tell me any more of his story nor did I care to hear it.

As I completed my appointed rounds my annoyance dealing with Bill slowly turned to sadness as I started thinking about a different type of man I had met a few weeks before. Frank was a World War II veteran, living alone in a meager 2 room apartment in the poor part of town. Although his apartment was located just a few short blocks from Gramercy Park it was in essence a world away. Frank was proud and independent man. He enjoyed telling stories about the old neighborhood and his old friends who were now long gone. Serving as an unofficial “mayor” of the block, Frank would sit on the steps outside his building for hours at a time watching and monitoring the neighborhood. Frank knew everyone and everyone knew Frank.

During the first of the month, Frank would also be joined by dozens of other people strewn up and down the block anxiously waiting for their sustenance checks. Some waited for their pension checks while others waited for welfare checks. Almost everyone in that part of the neighborhood lived check-to-check so the mailman was a welcomed site and almost acted as a life-line. Remember back then we had no direct-deposit.

Where was the justice? How could there be so much disparity of wealth in such a short distance? As time went on I began feeling more comfortable working in the ”working class” part of town where one was not judged or looked down upon. I learned a lot about giving and receiving. I also learned a lot about the Bills and Franks of our society.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This hub made me remember: I have a friend that us uber-rich, but he always tells people he is part of the "middle class"... not sure if he is trying to deceive or he really does not realize how fortunate he is compared to most people.

    • KevinC9998 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Mazzy- thanks for stopping by and the kind words. Kevin

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 

      6 years ago from the U.K.

      This resonates with me as I used to do kids' parties in the 80s (in Britain). When I went to the poorer areas, the people were kind, would invite me to eat with them and make me feel welcome. When I went to the rich areas, they treated me condescendingly. If I was offered a hot drink, it came in a mug whilst the hostess and friends drank from china. They would smile as their kids misbehaved and damaged my equipment. They clearly thought I was their inferior. Yet I could not see much basis for this view - all they had done was sleep with a man who had money. And as with Bill, they attributed to their own superiority what was actually the result of luck. You brought the situation and the people to life well - I felt as if I was walking those New York streets myself.

    • KevinC9998 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      tirelesstraveler, I tend to agree, thanks for stopping by.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      My dad was a book keeper for the US Postal service for 32 years. He was a college grad and a vet when he started. This read brought back memories. What is really unfortunate about the 1% and the 99% is that many of the 1% are the braggarts that pretend to be part of the 99%.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)