Personal Valet and Service

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What is a Personal Valet, and how does that apply to Service?   First off, it’s more than someone just parking your car, which is the typical association with the word in the USA.  It’s also not just a tray that holds your keys, wallet, watch, cuff-links, etc.; or a stand for your clothes. A personal Valet (or varlet) is an individual (historically male) which acts as a gentleman’s servant, performing services such as maintaining clothes, running the bath, shaving his employer, etc.

Context

varlet or valet
French varlet or valet

Both the terms valet and varlet are Old French variants of vaslet, or a young vassal. As such these were duties typically assigned to young noblemen, squires, pages, and the like in order to learn from a master how a noble gentleman was to keep affairs and behave.  It was, in essence, a form of apprenticeship in society to provide value, show responsibility, and acquire the social skills and appearances required in its time.

As a means of employment, and given time and inclination, a Valet may progress to becoming a Butler and assist in the operation of the household under direction of the employer, including supervision of junior staff such as valets, chamber maids, cook, grounds keeper, etc.  A Housekeeper is the female equivalent of the Butler, while the Chambermaid is the equivalent to the Valet.

Expectations & Duties

Expectations of a contemporary valet, regardless of their gender, is to demonstrate diligent competence and professionalism at all times. Typically the duties of a Valet typically includes:

  • the storing and keeping inventory of clothing, jewelry and personal accessories;
  • assisting in toiletries, dressing, and hair styling;
  • doing light mending, pressing, polishing shoes, etc;
  • packing and unpacking for traveling;
  • serving light meals;
  • providing personal assistant to the employer.

Valets are retained for their skills in making their employer’s life easier, be that for freeing up their time from tasks which would be better spent elsewhere or assisting where the employer is no longer capable to reliably execute due to health limitations.

Enjoyment & Value

From a personal perspective, my enjoyment of receiving valet service is no different from the above.  Be it from my willing slave or that of another, valet service helps me let go of trying to take care of everything so my mind is less stressed, my health maintained, and my time put to things of greater value.  For example, I enjoy receiving Foot Service in part due to the hands-on time and attention, but also because I have always had lower back problems and prolonged foot care takes a significant toll on my back.  As another example, having my traveling clothes and effects unpacked and cared for helps me shift my attention to daily matters and things that demand high priority.  These things, among others, affords me the freedom to lay certain burdens down knowing they will be paid diligent attention so I can focus my mental and physical energies elsewhere.  That is a HUGE relief to me and therefore a tremendous value.

Establishing Valet Service

Like anything else, if you want to be satisfied in something you need to define it for yourself. If you let others define it for you, then you will get what others value.  Here are some tangible steps in defining the kind of valet service you want:

  • List tasks and actions you’d like handled:
    • are absolutely critical (e.g. medications, medical appointments, etc.)
    • dislike the most (e.g. groceries, bills, laundry, ironing, polishing shoes, etc.)
    • would enjoy receiving (e.g. pedicure/manicure, having bath run, being shaved, cooking, etc.)
  • Force rank the above into a list by asking the question “how much would I regret NOT having this done”
    • Forced ranking means there are no ties or duplicates; there is only one priority one, all else is 2 or less
    • Using a “regret” approach focuses you on the real importance and value of the task or service
    • This also helps to guide later decision-making when conflicts of time or resources come up
  • Determine the success criteria so you can measure performance and value
    • If the service is “laundry/ironing”, is what you need available when you need it and in shape that is ready for wear?
    • If the service is “medications”, do you always have your Rx organized and ready when you need, and at the appropriate times?
  • Match the list of tasks, by priority, to the valet’s strengths and skills
    • Set your valet up for success by leveraging their talents, skills, and strengths
    • Example; if they are very organized and structured, perhaps managing appointments is a preferred service
    • Allow them to provide input as an equal partner to cooperatively build a path to success
  • Receive the Service with grace and appreciation
    • Many D-types are notoriously independent and have learned to do things themselves, you need to provide direction and let your valet provide the service!
    • Receiving valet service means you need to Delegate and trust them to do their best; micro-managing and hovering or shadowing only adds pressure and insinuates an expectation of failure or mistrust (a bad start).
    • Offer praise when done to or exceeding expectations, not praise for praise sake, but actively recognize and express their skill and diligence. The one that performs a service is doing so because it provides them fulfillment or purpose, if you don’t appreciate their efforts they will eventually stop because they won’t feel valued.

Closing

Receiving personal valet service can be a very direct way to making one’s life easier and to express one’s power exchange dynamics. As with any power exchange dynamic, this is best done with all parties involved are bringing their best to the table as equal participants to building success.  This means, as I’ve often said, that it requires mutual giving; one is giving structure, direction, and engagement while the other is giving of their time, attention, and focus.  Both are giving, just differently.  When all parties are actively giving and feeding any dynamic with the intention of shared responsibility towards building mutual success, you have something that can thrive and flourish and build something that is very personal, authentic, and valued.

 

-SV-

 

 

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