I was a Doctor's Wife, and a Doctor's Daughter-in-Law, but for forty hours a week I was also a servant to a random public. I worked retail, but there are other professions who will recognize this story.
I will tell you a secret about Doctor's Wives. They have a high rate of alcoholism, just as Doctors do. They are frequently lonely. I will tell you another secret: they always want a discount. A woman with a three-hundred dollar hair-do, getting snippy about $2.00 off of a $10.00 brass candlestick? I bet you that two bucks she is a D.W.
So, I did meet the ones in my husband's neuro/psych squad in RiverTown. We went to a couple poolside picnics, a couple dinner-dance affairs. One day I was at the information desk at my store and one of the D.W.s stumped in with her cane. Somehow everybody cleared out of her way.
"I'm looking for a book on heart disease," she told me, looking down her nose. "The name of it is X."
I looked it up. "Yes, we do have it," I said. "It's upstairs--"
"Well, you just march right on up those stairs and get that book for me." This is exactly what she said.
"Yes, of course." I marched right up those stairs and retrieved that book for her. The book was right where it was supposed to be, so I only got a quick laugh. I brought it right back down to Info and handed it to her. No thank you, no smile, not even a look. I am Beneath her.
"I know you," I said. "Your husband is Dr. Baldy, a neurologist. My husband is his colleague in Psych. We talked for a good long time at Pietro's last month."
"Oh, my gosh, how are you?" The lights in her face suddenly came on, and she was as effusive as a girl. "I had no idea you worked here. Isn't this wonderful to see you?"
"I'm glad to see you too," I promised. "Tell your Dr. Baldy I said hello."
Now maybe you think I am irritated. I just think it is funny. But I lived on both sides of that particular class divide. Not every clerk is that lucky.