A country of middlemen

Near the end of 2004’s English gangster film Layer Cake, Michael Gambon takes the protagonist aside and solemnly intones, “The art of good business is being a good middleman.” This was very much on my mind when I discovered that my latest vacation rental, in addition to being booked and paid through Airbnb, would be administered through a company called Staywell, which sent two model/actress types out in a brand-new Mercedes SUV to wait patiently while I negotiated Los Angeles traffic. When I arrived a full hour later than planned, they still insisted on showing me the rental from top to bottom. “This…is a bathroom.” Well, if you say so.

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