THE QUEEN OF MEAN GOT ME PISSED
Leona got her title for good reason. She was ruthless and mean. Stories of her business and personal brutality were Legendary.
The Helmsley's were filthy rich; Their Hotels and other real estate were worth billions. Apparently that was not enough. Though they paid millions in taxes, the Helmsley's hid some Hotel profits by lavishing their private properties using hotel profits and declaring it business expense. To be fair, this was a common practice, and even today many meals which have nothing to do with “Entertaining” go on a business credit card.
When Ronald Regan changed the graduated income tax schedule from Draconian highs for the wealthy, over 70% for people earning over $200,000, the IRS also cracked down on unreasonable business expenses. The Helmsley's did not relent and they got caught.
Both Helmsley's fought the charges and both went to jail. Many thought the main reason Leona went to jail was because she was so unrepentant, and because she was just universally disliked for her ruthless business tactics.
I was not displeased when she went to jail. I had a personal vendetta with the Queen of Mean.
In 1987 there was a frightening stock market crash. Brokerage systems could not handle the incredible trading volume and the back office operations were in danger of not being able to process transactions. The collapse of back office processing would have further exacerbated the market panic of that time.
In 1987 I was a supervisor of transaction processing for a large brokerage firm. When the crash hit on October 19, 1987 our staff worked through the night. On day 2 of the panic many workers were put up in city hotels. With no sleep for thirty five plus hours, I had a quick dinner and went to a Helmsley Hotel to share a room with my boss.
I showered for the first time in days, and piled into my bed exhausted. As I drifted off to sleep, I rolled over and was startled by sudden dampness and the foul odor of urine. It took several seconds before I realized what I was lying in and then I jumped out of bed yelling “WTF!”
My boss was startled, “What’s wrong?”
“This fucking mattress is soaked with piss.”
We called the desk and complained…I just wanted to sleep. I took another shower and waited in a bathrobe for a new mattress. When services arrived with a new mattress, they found the mattress soaked in pee, me in my bathrobe with sleep deprived saggy eyes, and my older boss awake in his bed.
They changed out the mattress with not an apology, but instead accusatory glances at two “Gay Dudes” (Not that there is anything wrong with that) that couldn’t hold their water.
I was double pissed. I called the desk demanding money off (for the firm, I was not paying) a free breakfast, or complimentary anything and an apology. I got nothing.
The Queen of Mean’s personality apparently filtered down to her management and her staff.
Years later when Leona was found guilty and sentenced to sixteen years in jail, I thought the punishment was more than she deserved. They made an example of Leona to warn others. They picked Leona to make an example because she was so universally disliked.
It really wasn’t fair. Harry and Leona got 16 years, practically life sentences. Leona was 72, Harry 83.
How did I feel about it?