Rich

It’s taken me a long time to realize, not to mention articulate, a gift I have learned I possessed. I suppose I have always taken it for granted therefore I have no idea if this gift is rare or common place because the gift is simply truth-telling. Meaning, ninety-nine times out of a hundred I can tell if someone is either lying to me or misrepresenting themselves.

Let any person give me the equivalent of ten sentences, ten paragraphs, or ten pages, and the evidence combined with the body language adds up.

And I don’t care who that person is, what their profession is or how they are dressed.  I am such a suspicious, over-thinking bastard by nature that I can just tell.

For instance I can easily tell if you attended university just by the way you talk – the words you use, your sentence structure, and/or your brevity (or lack of it).

You tell me you’re a medical doctor? If your demeanor or conversation contains even the faintest hint of honest humility then I know you’re a damn liar.

Lawyers are easy. They all smell like turds.

Tell me you’re an engineer and I can ask you a handful of seemingly random questions as to then ascertain your truthfulness.

Tell me you’re rich and I’ll tell you straight off you’re a damn liar. Imply that you’re rich and that’s a different matter entirely. But give me give me that in the equivalent of ten sentences, ten paragraphs, or ten pages, and the evidence combined with your body language will ferret out the truth.

Note: The only exceptions I know to this rule are a few wealthy Texans I met early on in my career. The guy with the most beat up truck, wearing dirty faded old blue jeans, and a sweat stained hat might be the richest man in the county.  And ten sentences, ten paragraphs, or ten pages won’t give his secret away because chances are he’s just some crafty old son-of-a-bitch who could give a flying fuck about what you think but chances are he’ll be chuckling inside to himself as he deliberately misrepresents himself – in the completely wrong direction. Like he’ll come onto you just like he’s some average good-old-boy who worked in the oil patch his entire life. But he’ll never tell you that he owns the damn thing.

I am using this lengthy preamble to set the stage for relating part of a conversation I had with my neighbor, Max this morning about wealth. And somewhere along the way the discussion landed on all of the obvious bases including the degree to which an individual is capitalized: the higher the capital the greater the return. BTW – that’s why really rich people stay rich. The ROI on a billion dollars is significantly greater than the ROI on a million dollars.

I remembered getting bumped to first class on a flight from Hong Kong to LA. I ended up sitting next to a gent from Australia whom I came to conclude actually paid for his fare. We had a nice chat and after a couple of drinks and learning he did some horse-breeding on the side made me start to come to the conclusion that here sat a pretty wealthy man. Max asked me how I knew he was wealthy. And I replied that it wasn’t necessarily what he said but just the way he talked; he had a very direct and matter of fact way of speaking. And he had a great sense of humor. Back then in the early ‘90s a million dollar stud delivered something like a fifty-thousand dollar payload; that’s per squirt.

Money is something that most civilized people don’t like to talk about but we’d developed such a nice report that at some point – after the fourth or fifth scotch – I asked him how it all worked. As in how does one develop that kind of wealth?

I remember he took a long sip, looked over his glass at me and said, ‘It’s really quite simple. You reach a certain point financially and then [other wealthy] people start bringing you opportunities to make yet even more money.’ He did some Australian version of a shrug and said, ‘And it never stops.’

He went to sleep and I went to sleep and by the time we landed we were strangers once again.

PS  – Max asked me the difference between coach, business, and first class. I told him in coach the seats reclined a couple of inches and that you had to pay for your drinks but were served an okay meal with plastic utensils. The only time I ever flew coach in the 46 times I crossed the Pacific was on a 3 week holiday I took in Australia. Other than that my company, Intel had a policy if your flight was longer than 10 hours they’d pay for business class. Coach cost like $800 back then. Business class was like $3-4K and first class was something like $12K.

In business class on most 747s you were seated upstairs. Your seat reclined to something like 45 degrees. The food was better and all the drinks were free. That meant top shelf 12 year old scotch and a decent selection of red (or white) wines and passable champagnes.

First class – and we’re talking transpacific international here – meant seats that went all the way back (think beds), 18 year old scotch, vintage champagnes, a spoonful of caviar served as an appetizer with either fresh fish or Chateaubriand carved seat side.

I only got to know first class a handful of times when I got bumped by the airline. Flying those many hours still sucked but first class took away a lot of the sting. I even got to know a handful of the flight attendants first hand – but what do you expect when you fly the same airline on same route so many times? On more than one occasion I was handed a bottle of good wine or champagne just prior to deplaning. (I knew even back then that it never paid to be an asshole to the staff.)

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