Tag Archives: wealthy

I used to be rich

Growing up is tough. Like when you’re a little kid and you have to beg your parents for everything. “Mom! I want some new action figures! Mom! Take me to the comic book store!” and, I shouldn’t assume everyone had the same childhood as I did, but my parents weren’t the type to drop whatever they were doing to satisfy the demands of their snot-nosed little son. Before I was old enough to get a job, this meant waiting desperately for some sort of a special occasion, Christmas, my birthday, one of those automatic days where I was entitled to presents.

Now I’m an adult, and yeah, I guess if I really wanted to, I could buy whatever I want. You know, within reason. If I don’t have the cash, just put it on the credit card. Theoretically speaking, there’s really not too much that’s off limits. But at what cost? Am I really willing to put myself into unnecessary debt because I want something that badly?

And so I don’t know what’s worse, being a little kid and having no sense of money, or being an adult and knowing all too well the true cost of material desires. I think back though, and there was an exception to this, it was a period in my life right after I got a job but before I had any bills to pay. It only lasted for about two years or so, but man, I was a god amongst men.

I started working at a restaurant when I was fourteen, scooping ice cream and making cappuccinos at a place a few towns over. After an eight-hour shift, the boss would give me sixty bucks, cash. It doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but to a freshman in high school with absolutely no responsibilities besides doing homework and working at this restaurant two nights a week, this job meant that I was rich.

Like, really rich. I remember the first time I got paid, I went from having absolutely nothing in my pockets, ever, to having sixty bucks. I might as well have been carrying a grand. The day after my first shift, I rode my bike to the park to play basketball with my friends. Normally, we’d all be lucky if we could pool a dollar and a half together to buy a soda.

But like I said, now I was rich. I took everybody to the pizza place and bought a pie. It was incredible, all of that cash, just burning a hole in my pocket. And that’s how it went for the next two years or so, before I bought a car, before I wound up throwing all of my money into a 1991 red Dodge Stealth.

The car gave me an even greater sense of freedom, but it was just a taste of what lay ahead, bills, insurance, gas, repairs, tickets. I still had money, but now when I went to the comic book store, I couldn’t just buy every new release without consequence. I’d been living the past two years never in want of anything. If I even remotely saw something that I liked, I bought it. But little by little, the adult world sucked away my surplus of money.

After school it was rent, and then cell phone service, and healthcare premiums. Whatever, everybody has to pay bills, so I’m not going to go through all of the things that I currently have to save my money for. But nobody prepares you for how it’s really going to be. I think back to when I was fifteen, when I had stacks of twenties in my underwear drawer, how I couldn’t imagine a time where I’d be even remotely close to having to stick to a budget.

I had no idea how good I had it. Maybe it’s a pattern, always looking back and waxing nostalgic. Maybe ten years from now I’ll look back upon right now as the best time of my life. I don’t know, I just remember going to the mall and buying like twenty new CDs. I think this summer I bought two albums on iTunes. What happened to my priorities?

The American Express Black Card

I love it when people pay for stuff with an American Express Black Card. Technically it’s called the Centurion Card, but nobody calls it that. It’s always just the Black Card. It’s just like a regular credit card, except it’s nothing like a regular credit card at all. What’s yours made of, plastic? Ha! I’m laughing at you, because that’s pathetic. But I’m also laughing at myself, unfortunately, because I don’t have a Black Card either, I just have a stupid plastic card, just like you. Ha!

amex black card

How does it feel to know that I could be sitting next to you at a restaurant, and I could be waiting there with a pair of scissors, and when you take out your credit card to pay, I could snatch it out of your hands and cut it into pieces before you even realized what I was doing? You dumb jerk.

But go ahead and try that trick on an American Express Black Card. I hope you have enough cash to buy several pairs of scissors. Why? Because the American Express Black Card isn’t some shitty piece of plastic. No, it’s made out of metal. If you want to cut the Black Card, you’d need like a pair of diamond bladed scissors. And have fun trying to buy a pair of diamond bladed scissors with your stupid plastic cut-in-half credit card. The saleslady will be like, “Ha! That’s cute. Security!” and they’d toss you straight out of the diamond bladed scissor store.

Look, it’s not for everybody. If the Black Card were for everybody, like if American Express decided to change its policy, to make it easy for anybody to apply for a Black Card, people currently holding Black Cards would revolt, they’d all start applying for some new even more exclusive credit card, like a card made out of moon rocks, or mercury.

Because its exclusivity is what makes the Black Card the Black Card. You have to be really, really rich to get one. There’s a huge membership fee. You’re required to charge a ridiculous amount of money every year. And what does this all get you? What makes the Black Card different than any other credit card?

It’s about sending a message. It used to be that if you wanted to tell a complete stranger,

“Listen pal, I know that I don’t know you, that you don’t know anything about me, or what I do. But I want to let you in on something. Come here. Come closer. Ready? Here it is. I am super rich. Like much richer than you’re imagining in your head right now. Here’s a pad and paper. I want you to go ahead and write down how much you think I made this month. No, seriously, I insist. OK, let me see. Yeah, not even close. Ha! Let me put it this way, you could work you’re entire life, and that wouldn’t be half of what I spent on lunch. Now get out of my face, asshole,”

you’d have to actually call them over and make them listen to you.

Nowadays all you have to do is pull out your Black Card. It’s great, because most of the time, the people that are handling your credit card are exactly the people that you’re trying to put in their place: salespeople, waiters, the guy making your coffee, the gas station attendant. Now you don’t even have to say anything to them. Just barely acknowledge their existence, don’t look them in the eye as you hand over that hefty slab of a status symbol. Watch them try to act like they don’t care, like they’re not trying to bend it with their hands as they run it through their machines.

You don’t have to have any more of a human interaction with them besides rubbing it in their face, that you’re rich, that you’re a really, really, really rich person, somebody with so much money that all of the ridiculous fees, all of those stories you hear about how impossible it is just to be invited to be able to purchase a Black Card membership, it’s nothing to you, it’s a micro-fraction of half of a drop in the bucket, a bucket so big that most everybody else’s buckets, even if they were combined into one big bucket, it still wouldn’t be big enough to hold even half of one of those micro-fraction drops of yours, the one you used on your Black Card.

I hope that someday I’ll be able to have my own Black Card. I’ll walk into a restaurant, a car dealership, a yacht club, some private wine cellar somewhere, and if my eighty thousand dollar watch doesn’t give it away, if the people I’m dealing with don’t recognize my designer suits or my helicopter waiting for me outside, if for some reason I ever find myself in a position where a regular nobody for some reason doesn’t recognize who I am, what I’m worth, just exactly what I’m sitting on top of here, I can just pull out my black metal credit card as a subtle reminder to everybody of my lot in life. It does all of the same things as your credit card, only the money supply behind it is nearly infinite, no upward limit. It’s the ultra-wealthy equivalent of going to a screen-printing place and having a t-shirt made up that says, “I am richer, much, much richer than you are.”