Secrets of the Wealthy

I used to work in the Private Wealth division of JP Morgan. I designed marketing material that enticed the well-heeled to park their net worth at JP Morgan. Prior to my employment there, I was aware of High Net Worth investors. But what was revealed to me was a second, more exclusive and enigmatic category; Ultra High Net Worth investors. That’s a real thing. It’s old family money. I used it as a new benchmark and a club to beat myself up over my mediocrity.

JP Morgan doesn’t just sell banking services. It sells lifestyle services. There’s a secretive world that exists beyond the bounds of your weak, middle class imagination. Ultra High Net Worth investors don’t wait to board planes. They’ve never seen a baggage carousel. Everything is done for them. Their lives are scrubbed and sanitized. And why not? Who doesn’t want to avoid conflict?

There’s one thing that galls me. Not only have Ultra High Net Worth investors never seen a baggage carousel, they’ve also never seen the inside of a hospital waiting room. There are underground teams of doctors who work on-call exclusively for wealthy families. They don’t treat the unwashed hoi polloi. If there’s a medical need, it’s attended to post haste. If you’re regular, you’ll have to wait your turn. In the meantime, please fill out these forms.

I sought treatment for a disk extrusion to my lower spine. Each night, each morning, anytime I’m awake, there’s a knife plunged into my leg. I have been tormented since the first week of August. It has robbed me of my sleep and appetite. My weight has gone from a robust 178 pounds to a sniveling 161. It’s not a good look. I’m so sleep deprived that on more than one occasion I’ve hallucinated at my desk.

After a panoply of failed treatments I decided to go nuclear and do the thing I swore I’d never do; get surgery.  Back surgery sounds scary, dangerous and painful. But I’m told microdiscectomy is a small incision and then an extraction. 80-90% success rate. Outpatient.

Prior to setting a date for surgery I told my pain management MD I was worried they’d make me wait until December to slot me in for the procedure. I had to wait two weeks just to see the surgeon. I’m cracking up in a very real way and am genuinely worried. Dr. Pain Mgmt said, kind of sheepishly, “Oh, you don’t need to worry about that. You’re a big number for him. You’ll get in right away.” What does that MEAN? I’m a big number? Does that mean I have proper healthcare and the bill will be paid promptly so I’ll get favorable scheduling? If that’s true, then the economically disadvantaged are made to wait (i.e., suffer) longer for treatment. Not Ultra High Net Worth but sill advantaged.

Surgery is Tuesday. That’s Election Day. If the returns are not what I’d hoped, I’m leaving instructions to keep me under for two years.


I understand this is repetitive but I’m getting great shots of the Chrysler Building. It’s the time of year when the sun is coming up just as I get to work. As added texture, the Chrysler Building is getting a new neighbor. 1 Vanderbilt.

Think about this for a minute: They dismantled an entire skyscraper, carted away the iron and debris and are building a new skyscraper on its footprint. It’s RIGHT NEXT DOOR to Grand Central Station, one of the densest, busiest pockets of Manhattan. I’ve driven through that neighborhood dozens of times. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to navigate. How are they able to do all that construction? Project Management Superninja skills.

I remember after 9/11 walking up to the remains of the World Trade Center. It was a gigantic mountain of twisted metal. I thought it’d be YEARS until they were able to clear it all out. Not so.



Lana Turner portrait.


My previous post touched on some concrete barricades that ring my building. They sprung up suddenly. I was told they were in anticipation of the election, which seemed odd, since the election was 2+ weeks away. Several days later, a bomb was sent to CNN, which is just up the street. Election, my ass. They knew something was about to go down.

56 thoughts on “Secrets of the Wealthy

  1. I am very sorry about your pain and I mean that with much more sincerity than words on a screen can convey. I pray that the surgery is soon and successful. I must comment on the part about the ultra rich. I hope you do not think that the democrat party is not a part of that elite. The reason they hate Trump so much is that they see him as a THREAT to their elite ways. He is not an insider. He doesn’t need their little club. He is dismantling the facade. Yes, there is a tiny club ruling America that has no clue how we live, but Trump is not in it. We must not let him be handicapped by a democrat ruled Congress. He is making important repairs to the destruction done by Obama (very elite), Bill Clinton, and even the Bushes. Freedom to conduct business without undue government control is our only hope in this country. The progressive socialist democrats are trying to limit that in every way. Please don’t be fooled!

    • Welcome! That’s an awful lot to take in for a first comment! Thanks for taking the time to read and chime in. It’s much appreciated. I agree with the part about the Democratic party also being part of the grand muck. I’ve always found there’s plenty of justified blame to go around. I’m kind of the angry middle. I’ve never registered with a party, but have never missed an election. I’ll make up my own mind, thank you. I don’t need some party telling me how to think.

      I’m not so sure about Trump being the heroic dismantler, tho. He seems awfully wrapped up in matters of his fragile ego. I think you give him too much credit. And his combative, divisive nature isn’t helping matters.

      Thanks for your good wishes. Surgery is about a week away. We’ll see what happens after that. There’s not a lot of political stuff that goes on here…it’s mostly art and NYC stuff…but you are always welcome to drop in. What we lack more than anything else right now is a civil tone. You’ll always find one here.

      • Really? let big business run amok unregulated? hope you don’t enjoy clean air or water PK. I could go on but it would turn into War and Peace and like Kurt Vonnegut said, “dammit baby you gotta be kind.

      • He left a comment yesterday. Scroll down to the bottom. I think he’s having computer and networking problems. Also, I don’t think he’s been in the UK for a while. It’s hard to pin that guy down.

    • There’s plenty of Democrats within the ultra-rich elite, that is true, but saying that they see him as a threat is like saying that a flock of geese is afraid of a goose. Not only he’s one of the Ultra High Net Worth individuals (down to the “old money” part), he’s cut their taxes and deregulated their businesses.

      • Cutting taxes helps us poor folks. I think he’s a threat because he’s not an insider and he will say whatever he wants without fear . He’s not like Hillary whose whole life is built around attaining power. Or Obama who is so confused he was easily used by the left. Or even Bush Jr. who was either dumb or just willing to be used. One thing I know for sure, the Democrats are not helping the middle class. That is not their voter bloc. Every policy they support, the money to pay for it comes from the middle class.

      • He’s killing it with the economy and I guess that’s great if all you care about is the money part of the governing. I still think he’s the wrong guy for the job. Did you see his post-election press conference? What an incredible thin-skinned baby. I’ve never been a fan of Obama or Hillary but those two know how to take a punch. The attacks on them were/are relentless. Il Duce is petty and vindictive and has authoritarian overtones. He divides the populace. It’s not healthy. Honestly, I don’t think he ever really wanted the job and I guarantee you he regrets it.

  2. Good, glad you got to the root of the pain problem and now, hoping all goes well for you next Tuesday. “Correction Day.”

  3. Good luck with the surgery my good man, back pain Sucks with a capital S. For those who’ve never experienced it they most likely can’t comprehend what it does to you. I’ve been lucky enough to have it only be related to lower back muscles, never a disc, here’s to a successful surgery and speedy recovery. I’ve gotten back in the pool to help mine and man is it awesome, swimming will kick your ass but as it’s gone on (i’m a few weeks in now) it feels great, i’m getting my speedo bod back lol!!!

    • You are the fifth or sixth person to recommend swimming to me. There must be something to it. Do you wanna hear something funny? Even though I spent six years in the Coast Guard I don’t really know how to swim that well. I drop like a stone. I was on a search and rescue team briefly and get the hell off because I’d be a liability. I can only imagine what my puny 161 pounds will look in a speedo.

      • That’s hysterical!! I guess you did have life jackets right, lol!! I never learned to swim until 7th grade? it was for my back then too, the best way to do it is just jump into the deep end, you’ll either figure it out or you won’t… and if you don’t you won’t have to worry about back pain anymore right? gallows humor on Halloween. Speaking of back pain, i played in a parent/kid soccer game last night, i only gave up 13 goals. Damn kids.

      • The Cost Guard was so desperate for members at that time they lowered the swimming requirement. The “test” was you had to tread water for five minute. That’s it. Hell, even *I* can do that! I’d never get in now.

  4. I wish you well and a speedy recovery, sweetpea. Having lived overseas during the “good tax years” for expats, I have seen how the other half lives and you’re right about the bubble they live in.

    Re swimming, again, it is the best exercise around! I learned to REALLY swim when I was in my 40s!!! We had a swimming pool and my teenage kids taught me. To this day, I only feel comfortable if my feet can touch the bottom! xoxo

    • Thank you long-time reader and friend. Where can we get one of those bubbles? Do we even want one? The answer is YES. Of course we do.

      I’ve always wanted to take lessons so I can swim properly. I’m not afraid of the water and I can paddle around, but I’d like to swim as exercise. I can’t. I’d like to take up fencing, too.

  5. I like that sequence of photos, the sun coming up until you can see it through the innards, like a beating heart, a building come to life. Like someone said up above, I’m not good with this kind of thing but I do hope you recover quickly from what you’re going through. Hand in there, we’re thinking of you.

    • Thanks, pal. Much appreciated. I’ll be okay. I’m a quick heal. Also, a quick heel.

      It’s a real treat to see that view every morning. I only catch those sunrises twice a year when the season allows. I wonder how compromised the view will be when 1 Vanderbilt is complete? Perhaps it’ll enhance the view!

      • For someone who’s loved the Chrysler since I was about 5 years old, I’ll just say I’m glad I saw it before they messed with its neighbourhood!
        Back pain? Yes, it’s a misery, whatever its reason.I ‘m sorry you have to go through the mill.
        But look at it this way…you can vote postal and avoid those queues!

        Yes to the swimming! It will definitely help you build up muscle strength.

        And thank you for the cat pics.

  6. Good luck on the surgery, and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    I loved your story about the high net worth and ultra high net worth people. For the first 18 years I was a real estate paralegal, my then boss only handled people who qualified for private banking. Most of those deals were easy – no credit problems, few scheduling problems (if the clients weren’t available, their “people” were), etc. I suppose that experience was one of the reasons I ran into problems at my last firm – that firm was high-volume dealing with the mainstream, and a good percentage was lower mainstream (foreclosures, short sales, etc.). Maybe it was desperation, but I found those clients to be so much more demanding than the wealthier folks.

    • Thank you. Recovery is one of the things I do well. I’m optimistic that I won’t be shut-in fro too long.

      The mainstream clients were under kind of pressure that high net worth folk never experience. They were on the threshold of having everything taken away. HNW people get upset if they can’t open the summer house before June. It would take an awful lot for a HNW family to lose everything. Different pressures entirely.

      • I agree, and I understood that at the time, but it still didn’t make the job easier. The ones who weren’t demanding and unreasonable were so pitiful that I lost sleep worrying about them. In any event, I hope never to do a real estate deal again, unless it’s my own.

  7. Hope you get that pain out of the way (you/America).
    My boss just arranged for me to get into his private clinic (yes we have those) at company expense for a second opinion. 500 bucks! For a consultation! We rarely see a bill in Canada, so we forget how spoiled we are. I don’t think I can go through with the consult. I’d feel like I was robbing the company.

    • I hope on Tuesday night the election results will favor the removal of some major pain. What a night that would be! Fresh out of surgery after a successful procedure and a clean political slate. Oh, if only.

      Your boss is a saint. He didn’t have to do that. But you’re a good guy. One WANTS to grant favors on your behalf.

  8. My country is filled with old money eccentrics! They don’t work – they just play posh.

    Even though we have a free health service you’d have to wait an interminably long time to get operated on. There’s still the option to pay your way to the front of the queue. Money talks.

    Hey, good luck with the surgery. I need my rower in good shape!

    Those shots are fabulous.

    • Your country is ground zero for old world monied eccentrics. You practically invented them. Hell, not practically. You DID invent them! Thanks a lot.

      I guess money talks in any language/country/time zone. I’ve seen a handful of doctors for my current ailment and was made to wait days for each one. Like it’s some kind of industry standard they’re trying to maintain.

      Thanks for your kind words about my photog. I have a new iPhone Xs. It’s got the biggest sensor of any iPhone previous. As we all know, the meat is in the sensor, not the megapixels. Still doesn’t beat a proper camera, tho. Not even close.

  9. Good luck with that pain in your back and the other one in your butt! I had some back surgery many years ago for the same issue. From the first moment I awoke I could tell that the pain was gone.
    Those sunrise photos are beautiful. I would keep posting them too. And Lana Turner – wow! She’s quite the looker! (Thanks for the cute cat pictures.)

    • I am VERY encouraged to hear of your results. Thank you for passing them along. That’s what I want. Instant relief. It’ll be weird to sleep through the night again.

      The pics are nice but I still haven’t captured what it looks like in person. It’s a magnificent display. I’ll keep trying.

  10. I was peripherally aware of that class of rich but didn’t realize it actually had a classification and name. They are the Romney 1% I guess (which I suppose is another way of classifying them). The divide between the haves and have-nots in this country is a travesty.

    I wish you good luck on your surgery, Mark. Next Tuesday must feel like forever in getting here for you. Pain is awful to have to endure.

    • They wanted to market to that segment of investors so they had to give them a name. I always thought it sounded kind of silly. Ultra sounds like a detergent.

      Pain is a funny thing. When you don’t have it, you never think about it. When you do, it’s ALL You think about.

  11. Best wishes for a good outcome from your surgery…to be free of back pain feels like being reborn!

    The ultra rich used to consult one of the chaps in our chambers….but that was the ultra rich in the seventies when lawyers had recognised ‘working’ hours 10.00 to 1.00…pub or club or inn for lunch…2.00ish to 5.00…pub then club or inn for dinner…

    Then solicitors sold the pass by being available at all hours to people on differing time zones and before you knew it lawyers had to dance attendance on clients – if they were ultra rich ones that is.

    • Thanks, Helen. I’m not looking forward to the process but I can’t wait for the results. I can’t tell you how sleepy I am.

      If they were able to swing a 10-1 working day, can you blame them? If that were presented to me, I’d have to stop complaining because my life would be perfect.

    • Look who it is! How nice to see you. Hope you’re well, etc.

      Coincidentally, I saw a report on the local news last night about 1 Vanderbilt. It’s going to be the third tallest building in Manhattan. It’ll dwarf the Chrysler Building, which is a shame.

  12. I had a similar operation and fusion in 1985. The pain started in April, the operation in September. It was a very painful summer. The long wait was to exhaust simple treatments before going under the knife. This was old technology. The operation took 12 hours, then 3 months of a body cast. Most of the pain was gone, but it took 12 months to fully heal up. Fortunately still no pain but expect a lot of arthritis to set in.
    I don’t believe you are the angry middle. Never a criticism of the stupid things said from the leaders of the Left. If we all had the same amount of cash, the poor people now would be poor again. We could of given a lot of free health care with all the money(millions) spent on government investigations on stuff that is purely politically motivated.
    Good luck Tuesday!

    • Your operation sounds horrific! How did you keep from going mad during those three months? I was told my procedure would take about :45 minutes. I’ll relax a bit and go home that day. I’m sorry to hear you had to go through such a miserable experience. Imagine if we lived in the 1700’s. There would’ve been no cure at all.

  13. Love the Chrysler building photos – my old employer had a large set of offices on 42nd street including at one time floors in the Mobil building opposite the Chrysler.

    Good luck tomorrow with the op – I will be pray all is fine for you and it gives you the relief you seek.

    • Have you seen the lobby and elevators of the Chrysler Building? So classy. Nothing like it being conducted today.

      Thank you for your well wishes. I’m trying to be an adult about the whole thing but I am a giant baby, as are most men. I’d like to skip to Wednesday without the hospital visit.

  14. The rich are different. I can’t begin to imagine their lifestyle. Well, I can but it’s not real.

    So today should be op day. Hope it went well. Hoping desperately that the #BlueWave18 happens today too.

    • Liz Hinds, new commenter, takes the time to read and wish me well. Thank you VERY much. It’s appreciated. My healthcare provider was dragging their feet a bit. Their approval didn’t come until today, so it’s been rescheduled for Thursday. Two more fun to enjoy.

    • The procedure was delayed. Thanks Aetna! On my way to the hospital in about an hour. Hope to be a different man sometime after lunch.

      Did yo see Trump’s post-election press conference? What a giant baby-man. If that’s how he acts when victorious, imagine what it’ll be like when he’s trashed.

  15. Oh my goodness, it’s Thursday, you should be done and dusted. I hope the operation is a complete success.
    Yep, I have been aware that the ultra rich live in a silken cocoon for some time…. maybe it’s more obvious in the UK?

    • Yeah, SHOULD BE. But my medical insurance provider dragged their feet a bit approving the procedure so it had to be rescheduled for today. I’m leaving in about an hour. Two bonus days of sleepless agony.

      I’ve always heard that class lines are drawn more prominent in the UK that they are here in the US. Those old ways are changing, aren’t they?

  16. Well, you’ll be waking up to a little bit of good news anyway. That pain sounds dreadful. I’d be running to Dr Feelgood for some painkillers that the doctors don’t give away. Let us know how it goes, and best wishes.

    • Thanks, pal. I was thinking about you with each new prescription. I can’t tell you how man opioids I was prescribed for pain and nothing worked. My friend said the problem was that I was taking them as directed. He suggested I double-up on my dosage but I wanted no part of that.

  17. Thanks Exile. I see him now. I hope your surgery went well. Backs are a nightmare and a bit of a design fault really. I’ve had issues in the past and remember the pain only too well. Sitting down all day at work is what brings it about I think. We probably should have stuck to bounding around on all fours instead of standing up on two legs in the first place.

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