Bathrooms of the Rich and Famous!

October 3, 2011


You see that round speaker in the ceiling? Well…

“I have used the bathroom in many of the largest, richest homes in the Charleston Area.” This is a bit of an inside joke for me (normally said more crudely). Very inside. And funny to me on a few levels; for I am vast, I contain multitudes (eyes rolling). But it may also be just as good as any one-sentence explanation of what I do for a living. The conversation typically transpires as such:

“So, what do you do?”


“For a living…”

“Oh…uh…well, I’m a systems engineer and programmer for a high-end AV custom integrator.”


You know that look your dog gets when he/she is pondering why you have been considered the alpha of this tribe, up to this point? Yeah…

Depending on how comfortable or vested I am feeling in the current social situation, the follow-up elaboration can vary. A quick escape is possible by throwing out lowest common denominator terms like big-screen TV’s and surround-sound home theater. This runs the risk of being asked if we do cars, but can often be redeemed by choosing the level of snobbery with which to answer in the negative.

The fuller explanation can be somewhat extensive, and interesting, because it is a unique job in that it is an adaption to a moment in technological progress. In other words, it isn’t something I could have wished to grow up to do because it didn’t exist yet. And surely will not exist in the present form for the next generation. But don’t let me make it sound overly important, either. I’m a bit of a glorified stagehand in the info-tainment business, really, with a touch of Wizard of Oz.

I thought I gave a better than usual, concise explanation not long ago on Facebook: “We are high-end custom integrators, which means we do wiring and installation of audio, visual, networking, security, and control systems for all that plus HVAC, lighting, shades, etc. We do most of our work on Kiawah, Seabrook, Downtown Charleston, and such. My job is mostly to take the projects our designers sell and draw up wiring plans for the house construction and wiring diagrams for the final equipment installation, ensuring that we have what we need to make sure it all works right. That also means I am supposed to know how all this stuff works… :-)” (And yes, ‘smiley-face emoticon’. I like emoticons. They are often required to deliver sarcasm in a flat medium… 🙂 )

That spatters about 75% of the target, I’d say. I also program anything they will let me play with, but mostly Savant control systems, and Lutron lighting and shade control. I’ve been with the company, except for a brief interlude jaunt, for roughly 10 years, now. I actually started as a salesman. That lasted for a painful few months until I could do anything else. I pulled wire and plugged things in for several years until I landed in a pretty agreeable job for me. A little social, but not too much. A certain level of anal-retentive OCD, but enough adaptability to each unique project. Geek, without too much wonk to take the style out of it.

It is interesting, though, for a guy with a nagging philosophical bent. I have stood on many a master balcony or pool patio overlooking the beaches of Kiawah. In a 3-story mansion with bathrooms larger than the entirety of some of the places I have lived in. Someone’s vacation house, usually more vacant than not. It is usually spotless. Daunting, when you return to your own humble little abode. It can give one much opportunity to ponder what is of value. To take stock in oneself. Or at least one’s property.

As I met more and more of the people who inhabited these haunts, though, I discovered for myself what I have read more than once: people’s disposition isn’t really based on economic status. The percentage of grumpy bastards, lonely souls, clueless narcissists, generous sympathizers, or thankful, happy people seems to break down fairly the same across tax brackets. More money often just means more things to worry about and defend. More flamboyant ways of expressing who you think you are.

It has provided an opportunity for some worthwhile soul searching, for such a technical job. For that, and so much else, I am grateful. And if you would ever like any advice on that new HD display or how to turn your domicile into a ‘smart home’, feel free to send me a message. Good chance I may come out of my shell, without necessarily using your bathroom…

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7 Comments on “Bathrooms of the Rich and Famous!”

  1. kateshrewsday Says:

    Now I’m envious…all those bathrooms…all those lives.


  2. Andra Watkins Says:

    All those practically unused, glorious bathtubs. With views. Sigh.

    It’s interesting to read about what you do, Brett.


  3. wordsfallfrommyeyes Says:

    Your blogs make me smile. It’s the way you write, how you tell what’s happened, is going on. I loved how you said dogs look at you pondering why you are the alpha male of their tribe!!


  4. Liz DeLoach Says:

    I dream of having a bathroom like that one day….and then I realize I am pretty much a zip-in-zip-out-of-the-bathroom kind of girl, so that level of opulence in a lavatory is probably wasted on yours truly.

    I did get kind of pumped with your mention of Lutron. I love their stuff. My husband the Double E major is quite familiar with them, and he swears one day he’s going to design us one hell of a light system in here…. 🙂

    I so love your observations about human nature and dispositions being the same across the socio-economic strata. Some of the happiest people I’ve known have next to nothing, and some of the most miserable have everything (materially speaking). I find the older I get the less I want “stuff.” The more of it you have, the more it owns you….



  1. de colours | surface nuisance - September 15, 2012

    […] was fortunate to make the pivot as we have become a culture that likes to bring the theater into our own homes in a more and more […]

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