You Will Always Be Viewed As Arrogant If You Have More

About five years ago, I played league tennis for a private club. The league included three other private clubs and four public teams who played out of the various parks.  I put the word “private” in quotations because anybody can join.  If you are under 30, your $500 initiation fee is waved.  Meanwhile, you didn't need letters of recommendations from existing members to vouch for you.  If you are willing to pay $150 a month you were in!

Folks who love tennis and make more than $35,000+ a year will likely find $150 a month to be a palatable expense.  Tennis is a way of life for many.  The club has 10+ courts, a gym, a pool, and a hot tub.  Being part of the tennis club was really no big deal, especially since plenty of people blow much more than $150 a month on a car payment, food, entertainment or alcohol!  It's all about your individual priorities.

Always Be Viewed As Arrogant

We hosted a public team at our club one sunny Saturday afternoon.  One of the opposing team's spectators was a heckler who insulted our player's outfits and told the women in the stands to shut up.

Nice vest you got there,” and “Stop yapping away,” were repetitive phrases the heckler would blurt out during and between points.  He was annoying as hell.

During one particular point, my team called a close ball out.  The opposing team started screaming, “No way!” and of course, the heckler joined in the fray.

You guys are a bunch of liars!” he said.

One opponent then added, “Can't you just be honest?  I thought this was a respectful establishment?

The jabs and insults kept coming like the wild screams of chickens evading a butcher.

Ready To Battle For Your Honor

At one point, the majority of their 25 person crew started to shout insults back at each other until the heckler started physically threatening a 62 year old woman spectator of ours.  I had enough and got my racket and began to charge with my doubles partner who is 6 feet 3 inches tall and 230 pounds.  

The heckler immediately started to back off after I raised my racket and told him to get the hell out of the club before I smash his face in with my racket for threatening my 62 year old friend.

The heckler continued to jabber at us as he walked away, hurling one last insult.  “I'm a lawyer and I will sue you!”  to which someone replied, “Go ahead you prick, we have a team of lawyers right here who will bury you.”  Now that's arrogance!

Because we were a private club, and because they had lost the match 0-5, our opponents viewed us as arrogant tennis players who weren't true fans of the game.  It was amazing how they didn't even give us a chance to get to know them. We even provided food and beverages for them so we could all chat afterward.

Leaving The Club

A year later, I decided to drop my membership because I could never get a court after work.  It got to the point where members would form court booking teams and alternate logging onto the system at 7am to get a 5:15pm or 6:30pm court time.  Frustrated, I joined another club where the initiation fee costs $10,000, but courts were always available to play for hours at a time.  Besides, the club had tons of free parking, a nice restaurant, great members, and is closer to my house.

I went to play a match at my old club when a couple of the members started giving me snide remarks for why I dropped them to join another club.  They said things such as, “Thanks for gracing us with your presence, Sam!“,  “How's the high life treating you?” and so forth.

Funny how this very attitude by the public park players was frowned upon and now being displayed by the same club members a year later.  I knew they were joking, but every joke has a meaning.

There Is No Escape Being Viewed As Arrogant If You Have More

If you have more money or more success in any aspect of your life, you will always be viewed as arrogant by others who have less. No matter what comes out of your mouth or what you write, there is no escape from the bitterness of some people.  

Your detractors don't see the countless hours you've put into your business, craft, or hobby.  All they see is the end product that looks so easy to them, yet somehow they can't replicate your work.  Instead they complain.

Why do you think people with a lot of money end up just hanging out with each other?  They just want to be themselves.  When they talk about which car to buy, they don't want to be viewed as snobs just because they prefer to drive a Mercedes Benz S-Class  over a Toyota Avalon.  

To the rich, it's just car that provides solid performance and ultimate safety for their family!  But to those who cannot afford a $100,000 automobile, speaking of S-Class Mercedes smells of pompous arrogance.

It's Better To Be Middle Class

Think about it. When was the last time you saw the rich protest against the poor? It's always the poor, the unemployed, the underemployed, and students who rail against the rich.  

I'm empathetic to their causes, however their issues are a discussion for another post.  The point is that the anger and contempt always seem to be one way – to those who have more. It's much better to be middle class instead. You can fly under the radar of hate.

Envy is a sad fact about human nature, which is why it's always good to be the underdog.  The people who take the easiest offense are the ones who are the most insecure.  It's better to walk in the shadows and do your own thing.  Eventually, you'll come to a point where you're fed up with the criticism.  You'll no longer feel like you have to hide your successes.  That is when the battle begins.

Readers, do you ever feel that you are unfairly cast as arrogant because you have more than others?  If so, what is your response, and how do you go about fixing the situation if at all?  Why can't people stop stereotyping others and just give people a chance first?  Is being viewed as arrogant and inevitability if you have more?

Note: I just finished up the regular season playing for a public park team.  In competitive spirit, we enjoyed making fun of the private clubs and almost named ourselves, “No Club Dues”!

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About The Author

55 thoughts on “You Will Always Be Viewed As Arrogant If You Have More”

  1. I do think there are some rich people who are arrogant and not very nice to be around. However I know plenty of friendly, down to earth people who are wealthy. And I’ve plenty of insecure, selfish poor people. I’m just going to say being poor isn’t an excuse to be rude and selfish. Being rich is no excuse to be rude and selfish.
    I work with working class people and they constantly accuse rich people of being selfish, but then again it’s an office of all women, and women can be quite catty!

  2. I hope you weren’t expecting sympathy from anyone as this is only your side of the story. Personally, the wealthiest person I know is quite literally a jackass, and worst of all he didn’t earn his money, he was just born into a rich family. Perhaps that’s where the real spoilage begins though. But yes, I’ve seen him treat people like shit and his wife like shit and her little puppy dog like shit too, quite the abusive person who can’t control his emotions and anger, little man too, seems to have a napoleon complex.

    I don’t have any preconceived notions about all wealthy people, but you do have to admit that many do act like monkeys, such as the heckler in your story, he was a lawyer right?

    You should really be blaming all the rich folk who acted greedy, pompous, and arrogant first to give rich people the bad rap that you speak of, there aren’t many rich people and if the few that you do meet have their noses in the air, then you aren’t likely going to have a very fond impression of rich people.

    So the question is, would you rather spend time with a VERY poor unemployed but very friendly person. Or that jackass lawyer that was heckling you, the choice is yours but you seem to have made up your mind that you prefer people of your own earning potential class, even if they are a jackass.

  3. The Dalai Lama does not judge, I’m pretty sure. But he did give away a lot of his wealth to the poor. So I’m not sure that was an accurate argument.

    Anyway, I agree with most of what you have said. It’s interesting because I have seen it from both sides. Usually, however, if you get to know people who are more well off than you- they actually end up being some of the nicest people. Its just learning to let go of your judgements.

    I do think it is somewhat inappropriate to talk on and on about your $100,000+ car (even thought it is a great investment for your family) in the presence of somebody who can only afford a $30,000 car for their family. Yes, you earned it, but it may come across as you saying that by only being able to afford a $30,000 car they are doing something wrong and can’t take care of their family as well as you can. And just as you don’t do anything wrong by having more money, they aren’t doing anything wrong by having less money.

    In my personal life, I don’t have a ton of money, and most of my close friends don’t either. However, I do feel uncomfortable sometimes because I do choose to budget some of my money (within reason) towards nice clothes and expensive make up. Some of my friends, who do make more money than me, tell me what a “lucky bitch” I am, just because they choose to devote more of their funds towards a new mattress or computer, or something else I’m just not as interested in. Another thing between myself and my friends is weight- anybody who is thin is accused of being arrogant, self-absorbed, and “luckier” than everybody else because they devote more time to their bodies.

    Whenever I’m in these situations, I just try not to bring it up. And if they bring it up I try my best to be sensitive to the fact and remember times that I have felt envy. I keep my opinions on it short and sweet, and I never, ever start a conversation about how great my $60 foundation is, when I know they are using $10 make up, because I wouldn’t want them to tell me what a janky ass mattress I sleep on or criticize me for driving a Hyundai. Different strokes for different folks.

  4. I’m generally viewed as arrogant because I am, I have yet to get the money to go with it.

    Personally, I believe it all stems from a regret for being risk adverse. Person A who sees person B has earned a lot of money by taking smart risks and there is resentment, because somewhere down the road person A either didn’t want to put in the effort or was too afraid to take the risk.

    It’s a need to justify that past regret by assuming person B didn’t take a big risk or work as hard. Because if person A was really wrong about his decision, he’d have to admit he’d made a fatal decision.

  5. About once a month, I take a hike on the Lyon St. steps in Pacific Heights where the mega $30 million dollar mansions are. I’m not envious, I’m inspired! It is always fun to get motivated and dream. It feels as good as once achieved.

  6. Steve White (@SteveWhiteToday)

    As an avid tennis player, your metaphor was not lost on me at all.

    This is an interesting post because, very rarely, do you see wealthy people defending themselves against generalizations made by those with less. Sometimes it’s good to see thing from the other side of the court, so to speak.

    To answer your questions, I have – at times – felt unfairly criticized or cast as “arrogant” for having more. However, as you pointed out, people fail to see the trying times and steep slopes I had to climb to get to where I am. People assume that, if you have more than them, your road was somehow easier. I believe that all stereotypes come from ignorance – from not fully understanding the “other side.” (However, in some cases, stereotypes stem from truth.)

    People are more likely to “give a chance” to those with whom they share obvious common ground. However, I don’t think that being viewed as arrogant is necessary inevitable. I really do think it’s based on attitude – of both the wealthy person and their less-than-wealthy counterpart. Some people are plagued with envy and conceal it with blame.

  7. Roger the Amateur Financier

    Hum, interesting entry, as always, and some interesting comments. Not having had more than others (money-wise at least; I’m of above average intelligence, at least if my IQ tests from elementary school are to be believed), I can’t say that I’ve ever been cast as arrogant. For how to fix that perception, I’m not really sure of what to do (although, if you attend leave your monocle at home and resist the urge to say ‘I say’, that might help).

    I think that people will always stereotype others; it’s a natural tendency built into us from ancient days, grouping people into broad sets with the same traits so we could interact without needing to really get to know them first. I like to think that we’re getting better at not doing so, but it’s slow going.

    As for whether you will inevitably be viewed as arrogant if you have more, I don’t think it’s truly inevitable. Certainly, there will be plenty of people who view you as arrogant or selfish if you are wealthy, or any of the other traits associated with the rich, but there will be others who are willing to judge you more on your actions and words than on your net worth. Much the same way that there are more than a few of the rich who seem to assume that the poor or middle class are lazy or incompetent just because of their (lack of) money, while plenty of other rich folks are willing to learn more about a particular poor person before passing judgement. Hopefully, we can reach a point where people of all income brackets realize that the amount of money you have is not a magic portal into your soul.

    1. It’s because it is inevitable, which is why people tend to stick with people who are very similar to themselves. It’s not just financial, it’s seen through racial divide as well e.g. Little Italy, Chinatown, Koreatown, etc.

      When you become that great chemist who discovers some new molecule, watch out Roger!

  8. People will judge you whether you are rich or poor. I feel like the middle class are the ones who have it easiest :) . Envy and jealousy are diseases of the mind. Complaining is just voicing that you are too lazy to change your circumstances, so you want someone else to change them for you. Rich people can’t win, even if they give large amount of money away.

    The part of this article I agree with most is that Rich people clump together so they can be themselves. I have been around very wealthy individuals that talk about their $4000/month lease or their homes, or are traveling every other week and I just can’t relate. I don’t hate them for it, I just don’t know what it’s like so it’s hard to talk about my similar experiences, because I don’t have any. But I am really interested in what they are doing and enjoy the conversations. I also take the time to reach out the the folks I look up to and chat with them about how they got where they are and ask for tips and advice on building my own business/wealth. They are usually more than happy to help.

    1. Jacob, you really do have a great attitude. It’s not being envious and taking the time to reach out and learn that’s so important.

      Those rich folks you talk about who have their $4,000 a month lease… they are WELL AWARE it is a lot of money and do not want to bring it up with folks who can’t relate. So, in their way, they don’t want to come across as arrogant and just stick to those who can relate.

      I know one guy who donates $100,000 a year to various charities, and people still protest him. It’s ridiculous.

      1. Oh, I had a typo. $4000 a month lease on their cars….Haha.

        Some of the most humble guys I have met are filthy rich, but they do wonderful things with their money, give hundreds of thousands to church and charities and loving on people in their community. I guess I really don’t understand the criticism…

        And since I hope to be there one day, I guess I just need to brace for it and know that I’m being generous and loving others with my wealth regardless of what other’s say/think about me.

  9. RichUncle EL

    “Why do you think people with a lot of money end up just hanging out with each other? They just want to be themselves”
    This post started off a bit confusing but then I understood where it was going. I really liked your explanation about the rich and the poor, even though I am not rich or financially free, I see the point you make with the comment above and with envy intertwined into social classes. There is envy coming up from the poor, but there is snobiness, social exclusion, and arrogance coming from the rich. Both sides just can not get along.

  10. I’d say misunderstood and not arrogant may be a better choice of words. When you changed where you played tennis did you let the people in your own haunts know your reasons for changing? If not they were probably gossiping trying to figure out why you just left. Eventually I guess that gossip turned into some banter so that’s why that came out on the court.

    At the end of the day, misunderstood or not, you have to live by your actions. If being misunderstood bothers you enough then you can take actions to remedy this. If not then it’s all good too.


  11. Perhaps it’s because the rich people I know are not like those that you say. The rich people I know dedicate their time to help the poor. They also donate more to the poor in a year than many of us will donate in a lifetime.

    San Francisco is very left/Liberal in our causes eg pro welfare, pro equality of same sex marriages, etc. The level of acceptance for everyone, and the idea that we need to share the wealth is among the highest, if not the highest in the country and the world, right here in San Francisco.

    1. In my comment above, i was basically saying what Forest said (except he said it better):

      “As for the rich protesting the poor, it happens in other ways. The rich lobby to remove homeless people from their neighbourhoods rather than rallying together to find the poor people a home or a place in a mental asylum, they often cast off the poor as ‘lazy’ which for the most part is certainly not true and I can think of other examples.”

  12. Darwin's Money

    I used to be more judgmental of others when I was younger for various things but I’ve grown to not judge others if they’re not hurting someone else. Kind of a libertarian approach to humanism I suppose. At the end of the day, we know someone who is just like the person you’re pre-judging, and they’re not that bad. So, people should mind their own business and form their opinions based on more personal experience over a first impression at a distance.

  13. I can attest to this, Sam! After I purchased my first hotel, I remember one day when a professor from a near by community college stopped by. Now, you expect a professor to be more intellectual then general public, but what he said to me left me thinking. He asked me if I was able to purchase this hotel due to some law passed during Jimmy Carter’s time to give hand-outs to minorities. I told him that I was not aware of any such law, and I don’t get any favors from the government. I told him that, in fact, I’ve not even used public schools for my daughters despite paying over six figures in the property taxes for my house and businesses together. It’s amazing how people rationalize mediocre life instead of working hard to achieve success for themselves.

  14. It is very true that it’s all about one’s passions. I also agree with the person above who talked about deserving/not deserving. I do not know if I am deserving of what I have or where I am in this life. I do know that I’ve worked hard to get to this place in my life, for good or bad.

    The greatest take away here is about the choices we make. So often I see people who are bemoaning everything in their lives, saying how the cards are always stacked against them, and on and on. Never do I hear anything that resembles personal accountability or ownership of action.
    We have a couple of rental properties, and folks tend to think that having those makes us “rich.” I promise you, that only makes us that much busier in so many ways. I feel that I never have a day for me or us to just enjoy as leisure. I view it all as a kind of misogi.

  15. This world is full of haters, and there will always be a battle between the rich and the poor. No wonder the middle class virtually doesn’t exist. There are many insecure people who allow their insecurity to get out through sarcasm or arrogance. I hate saying this without being judgmental, but I find that people with money (especially those who inherited) are quite insecure. r

    I don’t talk about my money, or talk about my income. I do well for my self, and I’m
    comfortable with that. Recently a newly hired receptionist (less than a month at her job) at works thinks that people who drive luxury vehicles are snobbish. Really, I thought to my self…I drive a luxury vehicle, and you don’t even know me.

      1. Exactly, great way you summarized what I just said.
        As for my receptionist, maybe she wants to get down…unfortunately I don’t….someone once said to me “never s**t in your own back yard” ;)

    1. I enjoy your blog and admire your hard work and discipline.

      I don’t think of myself as wealthy but I think some would classify me as such based on my net worth and age. Now that said, I agree with the receptionist to an extent. I think people who drive a luxury vehicle are trying to make a statement. A car moves us from point A to point B and I don’t see a “need” to spend $70,000 on one. To me, people who do this are trying to flaunt their wealth and I take issue with that. A toyota with all the bells and whistles will provide just as much comfort as a mercedes or audi with the same gadgets. I found it interesting to read that the MAJORITY of millionaires do NOT drive a luxury vehicle. In fact, I think many of those who drive a luxury vehicle are not wealthy and trying to “be” something they are not in the eyes of the public. This argument likely does not hold true for the UBER wealthy.

      I drive a honda and am perfectly happy with my low car payments and reliable ride.

      1. People drive what they like. Luxury vehicles are the best in quality. So I f that is what someone likes and they can afford it more power to them. I would much rather see some eye candy on the road than hear a piece of crap driving up the street.

  16. I think a lot of people are unfairly labeled arrogant when they are just quiet or shy. Money does not make you arrogant! I think insecurity or envy can make you arrogant. Your story reminds me of the difference between old and new money. I think when you grow up with money it affects you differently. Bad behavior has nothing to do with money.

    1. That’s a different perspective Larry. I do know a VERY close friend of mine who is sometimes labeled as cocky, but it’s because she is just too shy to look someone in the eye and speak up.

  17. Got to admit Sam, I agreed with you up until “When was the last time you saw the rich protest against the poor? It’s always the poor, the unemployed, the underemployed, and students who rail against the rich.”.
    Rich politicians are always railing against welfare moms, and other people who they deem lower class. Right now rich people are taking away insurance rights from women who need that insurance to be able to afford to stay healthy. There are plenty of rich people who hate poor people, they just have more money so they don’t have to stand on the streets to protest – they can use their money to change things.
    And if I want to be honest about it, I grew up in an affluent family amongst trust fund peers. I’ve definitely heard my fair share of heckling from my peers to people who don’t have enough money. I recall a classmate of mine yelling at a guy and girl at a bus stop, “get a car and take her on a real date!”
    Of course, apart from that specific point in your post, I totally agree with you. In fact I’d even point out that my family was known on one side for being snobby because we always were dressed more formally than other people (we weren’t allowed to wear shorts to funerals, but since we wore skirts the other members of the family always commented on how fancy we were). It’s uncomfortable, definitely, but something I’ve learned to deal with over the years.

      1. The rich protesting against the poor? That seems at the very least in poor taste. Rich people know better to just discuss it politely over dinner parties. People can act poorly regardless of their tax bracket. However, I do feel that those with more have an obligation to try and help to make lives easier for those who have less. It would lead to more peace overall if more people felt like this. But, it’s not insurance for a trial-free life. There are difficulties to bear no matter how much money you make.

        1. I generally don’t see the rich protesting against anything. It’s usually young people doing the protesting and young people tend to be poor. Or it’s poor old people protesting to keep their gov’t benefits.

          There aren’t too many people in the peaks of their careers out their marching, holding signs demanding more opportunities for the poor. Probably pretty pressed for time.

        2. Generally, the rich are pretty happy with their lives and therefore don’t feel the need to protest against things. It’s not that the poor don’t have good table manners; it’s that more policies effect their everyday lives. And they don’t have money, so it takes action to get their voices heard. And I think poor people can be pretty damn busy, too. Not all of them are poor because of a lack of work ethic.

  18. I guess there is some truth about what you say, it is a common human condition to envy what others have and some people have control over it while others don’t. However it is just as true that people that have more money/power tend to feel above the rest and feel more entitled. That is too a human condition.

    In another note, we all like to think we deserve what we’ve got for sure, that’s some sort of mechanism that allows us to live with ourselves. Yeah, “we have worked hard for it”, “I’ve earned it”, “I’ve worked nights for years” etc etc. I prefer to simply be thankful for what little or much I’ve got and keep working for it without making a definitive judgement of whether I deserve it or not. After all, what scale are we using exactly to determine if we have earned what we got?? our own scale of course, no surprise that the people that has more tend to think they deserve it and the people that does not have what they want tend to believe they don’t have what they deserve.

  19. Great post! Many people assume that I’m either: A) a trust fund baby; B) My bf supports us; or C) My mother gives me money for everything. I think some people who judge others are just jealous or intimidated by others. I work hard for my money!

    And P.S., I could never justify $150 at a $35K salary for something like that. I’m just too cheap.

    1. It depends on how deep your addiction is for tennis! I would rather pay $150 to play tennis and have fun with friends at the hot tub than pay $150 a month to drive a Honda Civic. Bus baby!

      1. Its all about passion, and something that means special to you.
        I spent $150 this week alone on 3 rounds of golf. Next week, might be another round or two or more! :)

        Its all about passion baby! :)

  20. This is a great post. I would put it on Facebook, but it wouldn’t really help the situation ;-)

    My favorite personal example relates to physical flexibility. I started stretching 5 days a week for about 20 minutes roughly 5 years ago. Now a common response is “I could never do that” or “are you a dancer/ice skater/gymnest/MMA fighter”? This sort of thing drives me nuts because it presumes that simply listening to someone tell you how to do something automatically makes it so. No, I did not magically become flexible because I danced for a while – I’m even more flexible than then because I continue to *work at it*. Same with running half marathons, only I can totally say “just do what I did – run once a week for 5 years”.

    But when it comes to money and I suggest (only when asked!) that they stop spending money and buy assets instead, there’s even less hope.

    And $150/mo is twice the cost of my nice gym that has a hot tub, sauna, steam room, great employees (hard to find!), and a great crowd … so there’s definitely a premium for tennis.

    1. What a great analogy you make on stretching! Totally takes time and discipline!

      Don’t tell my club this, but I’d happily pay them double the monthly dues. I find so much value in it!

  21. I try not to judge personally. I know for the most part people who make a lot of money have worked very hard to earn it. I know that if I wanted to work crazy 60-70 hour weeks I could be there too but I chose not to. Hopefully one day I can get to the point where I would feel comfortable spending that much money on my hobby but I’m not there yet. I’m not going to judge you for spending money on what you enjoy though. You earned it and I can deal with that. I don’t feel entitled like so many do in our country.

  22. Andrea @SoOverDebt

    I’ll be honest, Sam. You nearly lost me here:

    “Folks who love tennis and make more than $35,000+ a year will find $150 a month to be a palatable expense.”

    Even though I understand what you meant (and agree with you), it was hard for me not to interpret that sentence as an exclusion. I’m not sure why the expense needed to be qualified – as a single parent, I’m in that $35,000 range, but I still know that $150 a month to belong to a private tennis club isn’t extravagant. Is it an expense I would take on right now? Not at all. But I don’t need to have a certain level of income to realize that someone who makes more money than me could easily afford it. As much as I know you didn’t mean it, it came across to me like “People with lower incomes wouldn’t understand this concept.”

    Anyway, as someone on the “other side,” I don’t automatically think that people are arrogant when they have more than I do. If I did, I wouldn’t like very many people! I think there is a big difference between owning nice things and flaunting them. There’s also a big difference between empathizing with those who have less and looking down on them. For me, it’s motivating to see people who have more choices and are able to do more. It’s not about owning the most/best stuff, but more about living with fewer restrictions. As long as no one rubs their wealth in my face or takes something from those who need it out of greed, I’m good with a society where some have more than others.

    1. I was hoping someone would start poking holes at my thesis!

      $35,000 in SF is like $20,000-$25,000 in the rest of America except for NYC and LA. My intent is to show that it’s about CHOICES. $150/month car payment or $150/month gym membership or $150/month on fast food.

      Someone is always going to judge you for the choices you make about money, even if you don’t rub your wealth in their face. The more issues someone has, the more they will judge others. When does the Dalai Lama ever judge?

      1. People do always judge others on their choices – I agree 100%.

        People can never understand why I go to South East Asia every year and why I stay in $20 hotel rooms. Well their are many reasons: great value, great food, great people, great weather (usually). Additionally, a luxury hotel room is just not something I need – I’ll take it sometimes, especially when Its getting expensed – but I do not need it.

        I know what I want/need and a luxury hotel room and expensive food and drink in the Caribbean is not something I need or desire.

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