Tag Archives: Money

I’m giving away free money

Hey everybody, I just came into a pretty big sum of money. It’s ten thousand dollars. That’s tacky, right? Telling you how much money I fell into? I get it. But I just can’t hide how happy I am, to have totally landed in such an unexpected windfall of cash. And I want to share that happiness with all of you. Or, not all of you, but some of you. If you share this blog post, what I mean is, if you reblog it, or if you retweet, or share it on Facebook or whatever, and then send me your email address, I’ll give you ten bucks. But only for the first hundred people. That’s pretty generous of me, right? Brightening up the lives of a hundred random people on the Internet? Also, you have to start following me on Twitter.

Ten-dollar bills

What can I say? That’s just who I am, a really generous, fun-loving, share-the-wealth type of guy. I wish I could give away even more money. I thought about maybe making it a hundred dollars to the first ten people who reblog this post on Tumblr, (you have to start following me on Tumblr, also) and then take a screen shot of that reblog, post it to Instagram, and then tag me, showing me that you actually did it. And while, yeah, those ten people would have been ten times happier than the hundred people I ultimately decided to go with, I just felt that it was more important to cast a wider net, to try and make more people happier, even if they’re only going to wind up being just a little bit happier.

That sounds an awfully lot like quantity over quality, right? Yeah, I guess so. But sometimes you have to sacrifice quality for quantity. Like if you’re going to eat breakfast every day, I’d rather buy a five-dollar box of cereal than a really expensive tiny jar of caviar. So that’s what this is like. All you have to do is follow me on social media, and if you’re one of the first one hundred people, I’ll send you ten bucks.

I wish I could have made even more people happy, but I wouldn’t have any cash left over if I kept giving away free money. And while I’m not willing to part with my remaining nine thousand dollars, I’d be more than happy to invite you over my house for dinner. Again, it would be impossible to have everyone over. Just logistically, that would be a pretty big challenge. But let’s say like the first twenty-five people who subscribe to my YouTube channel, I’ll invite you over for a homemade meal. I make a really great carbonara sauce. All you have to do is subscribe to the channel, leave a nice comment under any three of my videos, and then post your own video on YouTube mentioning my channel, the whole ten-dollar-giveaway thing I’m doing, and you’re all set. Be sure to mention how generous I am, talk about all of the blessings I’m sharing and stuff like that.

Also, listen, one of my clients was just recently traveling abroad. His small airplane went down somewhere over the Central African Republic, and after this whole botched attempt to locate the wreckage, we found out that, unfortunately, it’s really unlikely that anyone made it out of the jungle alive, let alone survived the plane crash. Fortunately, he doesn’t have any living heirs, and I was entrusted as the manager of his entire portfolio. All I need are some volunteers to act as liaisons to his estate, let’s say ten people, to go forward with me in this very lucrative endeavor. You just have to like my page on Facebook, subscribe to my newsletter, add me as an addition to your cell phone’s family plan, text me the routing number for your bank’s checking account, buy my eBooks on Amazon, leave me several five-star reviews, mail me a check for fifteen cents, and tell all of your family and friends and coworkers to follow me on Twitter, to press the heart icon over all of my Tumblr posts, and to mention my name in a hashtag on any photos you upload to Instagram, and like I said, those first ten people are going to get rich, OK, all of these blessings are going to come to you and your family, because trust me, this guy was ultra-wealthy, and if I could access his money and keep it all to myself, I would, I’m telling you it’s like millions of dollars, and I’ll give away a big chunk of it, all right, I’m not messing around here, so all of these buttons to the right of this blog post, the share buttons and the pin it buttons, just press them, seriously, just keep pressing them and we’re all going to get really rich, sound good?

In the future, we won’t have money, and we’ll all be socialists

My ideal vision of the future has always been as its portrayed in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Humanity has transcended all of the petty nonsense that we’re still fighting about today. Poverty has been eradicated. Common diseases are distant memories of a medical dark age hundreds of years in the past.


Technology in the twenty-fourth century (while admittedly looking more and more dated as the twenty-first century marches on) makes everything accessible to everyone. If you want something, you can fabricate it out of one of the ship’s many onboard replicating machines. It’s the same with food, just speak into the box, tell it what you want, and zap! There it is, bon appetit. Entertainment via the Holodeck is so much more immersive than the trivial pastimes we occupy ourselves with today.

And it’s more than just food and games. Transportation is completely reimagined. With transporters and faster-than-light warp drives, traveling to and from work must be a non-issue. People of the future don’t have to take the subway anywhere. The whole idea of commuting is probably as antiquated as a horse-and-buggy seems to subway riders today.

My point in all of this is to look at our own technological advancement. I’m a firm believer that we’re well on our way to not only achieving, but probably surpassing all of the feats of advancement on display in Star Trek. Three-dimensional printers are just becoming a commercially viable commodity, and so the ability to replicate various objects might soon be a reality for the developed world. Similarly, as driverless cars inevitably take over the roadways, traffic, parking, car accidents, they’re all bound to become headaches of the past.

And as technology takes over more and more of the heavy lifting involved with day-to-day life, how is this going to affect the economy, our sense of wealth, our very definition of the word liberty? I ask this because, in Star Trek anyway, everything is free. Futuristic machines are so ubiquitous that it wouldn’t make sense to charge anybody for goods and services. No, the very idea of currency does not mesh with the utopian economy built on a foundation of infinite clean energy.

If we ever get there, or to some version of something like the world they have on Star Trek, how are we going to make that transition? How are people in charge going to give up their ability to demand a percentage of our own personal wealth in exchange for whatever it is they have to be offering? Or will things stay the same way they are now, a group of people at the top taking a greater percentage of what I would argue should be equally divided?

Take transportation as an example. Let’s look at taxicabs. A driver might not own his own car, he might lease it from a central dispatching agent. But in the process of me getting from point A to point B, I’m paying the driver, and ultimately those profits go on to not only sustain the greater taxi company, but to support the driver’s income.

And so what happens when that driver’s job is replaced by a computer? Is the price of a ride going to go down? I can’t imagine any taxi company willing to lower the fare. I mean, the fact that we’re willing to pay a certain price now shows that the amount is somewhat reasonable. So what’s happening in this potential scenario is that the owner of all the taxis, now free from worrying about assuming the liability of hiring drivers, gets to take home all of the profit, leaving a now unemployed segment of the workforce to look for some other means of earning money.

As technology takes over more and more aspects of society, where is everybody supposed to work? It’s just going to increase this divide, that those in power, those currently with wealth, they’re going to maximize and multiply what they currently have, leaving everyone else with a constantly shrinking piece of the pie.

There are signs that it’s happening already. Look at music and writing. When I was growing up, a CD cost about fifteen bucks. I got a physical object, and a lot of people made money producing that object, selling those objects, it was all part of a system. It was the same way with books and booksellers. But now those commodities are largely digital. We’re getting the same product, the same work of art, but there’s no longer the economy supporting the manufacture and sale of those goods.

And the prices aren’t really that much cheaper. Songs are over a dollar each on iTunes, and publishing companies and authors are constantly fighting with Amazon over how much a digital book should cost. Because as technology grows, the idea of currency doesn’t make sense.

I don’t know how they did it in Star Trek, but they somehow got to the point where nobody pays for anything. People with a lot of money had to give up their extreme riches in order for everybody to share in the wealth and utopia ushered in by a golden age of technological progress. I think we’ll eventually have to deal with how that’s going to work in current society. And it’s going to be tough.

If machines do most of our work, is there still going to be that mentality where you have to work forty hours a week? If poverty doesn’t exist, are we still going to judge those least fortunate for their lack of a work ethic? If you had all of your basic needs met and didn’t really have to do anything, would you still toil away at a job that you didn’t like? In Star Trek, nobody has to, and nobody does. They find something they want to do because they enjoy it, and money isn’t a problem. I have no idea how we’re ever going to get there, but I hope that we do, because the future is coming whether we like it or not.

Windsurfing Groupon

I bought a Groupon a few months ago, it was for these windsurfing lessons, four hours two times a week for two months for five hundred bucks. I was having lunch with my friend Frank when I saw the deal and I asked him, “Hey Frank, doesn’t that sound cool?” I and I was really just saying it to say it. But Frank lit up, his reaction was immediate and enthusiastic. “That looks fucking awesome,” he told me. “I would totally be down to do that.”


And like I said, when I saw the windsurfing package, there wasn’t really any active part of my mind that thought, yes, this is what I want to do, I need to go windsurfing. The only reason that I showed Frank the offer in the first place was because we’d been hanging out for like half an hour, and conversation wasn’t really happening, to the point where we were already lost in our cell phones.

Then when I showed it to him, I’m not even exaggerating, he was all about that Groupon. “Let’s do this!” he looked me right in the eye and I couldn’t help but feel excited. “Really?” I just wanted to double check, and he was like, “Totally!”

The Groupon expired in twenty minutes, and I showed him, I said, “So should I do it? That’s cool? Five hundred bucks?” and he said, “Absolutely, I’ll get you the cash tomorrow.” And I hit the button, purchase. I received a confirmation email right away.

And we sat there for the rest of however long we hung out for and talked all about how cool it was going to be, learning how to windsurf. We wondered what kind of gear we’d need, and so we spent a little time searching online windsurfing forums, learning the very basics about windsurfing, like what to expect our first time out, stuff like that. At one point, he even showed me some windsurfing equipment that he’d found on eBay. He was like, “Yeah man, after the two months are up, we should totally go in on all of the equipment together.” And this guy’s whole everything, his attitude, his smile, it was infectious, I was like, “Yeah! We totally should!”

And then the next day Frank texted me, he was like, “Hey Rob, I actually just took a look at my work schedule, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to make that windsurfing thing happen. But you’ll be able to find someone else, I’m sure of it. That was such a great deal!”

Of course I was pissed off, eventually. At first I was just really confused, and then very disappointed. Because, and it’s really hard for me to admit this, seeing as how everything went wrong so quickly, but I couldn’t even go to sleep that night. I was so excited, just laying there in my bed, thinking about what a great bonding experience this was going to be for us, how from now on, anytime we were bored, we could just head to the beach and start flying across the surf. I even did a bunch of research into storage spots near the water, how much it would cost for us to keep all of our gear and equipment at a location right by the shore.

“Dude, I already paid for this package,” I texted him back, and like five hours later, he sent me a response, saying, “Yeah man, and I’m telling you, you’re going to have trouble picking who you want to take advantage of this unbelievable offer with you!” And for a minute anyway, it’s like he had this way of giving me a mini enthusiasm boost via text message. Yeah, I thought to myself, this is still going to be awesome. “And I can basically teach you everything that I learn at the lessons, so we can still go in on all of that equipment together if you want.” And the next day I got his reply, he typed back, “That’s sounds like something to think about!”

I started calling my friends, trying to sell them on the windsurfing package, but the responses were all nearly identical: “Windsurfing? I don’t know I’m not a strong swimmer. Wait, five hundred bucks total or each? I don’t know, that’s a lot of money. Can I get back to you? All right, I mean, I don’t think so. Maybe, but I don’t think so. Put me down as a maybe. As a tentative maybe.”

It’s like, for whatever reason, I couldn’t capture even a fraction of whatever it was that Frank had that got me so excited about windsurfing in the first place. In fact, the more I tried to recruit someone else, the less it sounded like something that I’d be even remotely interested in. No, I didn’t want to go to the beach twice a week for two months. That’s like way too big of a commitment. And don’t I have a vacation planned between now and then? What about getting out of work on time? Why didn’t I think of any of this before I clicked “purchase?”

I got in touch with Groupon corporate and they were like, sorry man, a Groupon’s a Groupon. I called up Frank but his cell phone kept going straight to voicemail. I was leaving all of these text messages, stuff like, “Man, I can’t get anybody. You need to help me out here.” And he’d respond back like every other day or so, “OK, OK, I’ll figure something out.”

And then, yeah, the day before the first session, he totally figured something out. “Here’s your five hundred bucks,” he showed me when he stopped by my house. “For real?” I said. “Who’d you sell it to?”
“My friend Pete,” he told me. And that was a huge relief. I don’t know why he couldn’t have been a little more straightforward with me, but whatever, I was off the hook, it felt great, like a huge knot had been untangled in my gut.

Only, I was checking my Instagram earlier today, and Frank put up like twelve photos of him and Pete windsurfing. Man, it was like a windsurfing commercial. “Windsurfing is so much fun!” was one of the captions. Another one said, “I think I’ve fallen in love … with windsurfing!”

And yeah, maybe I’m being a little petty, but was it me? Do I not seem like the kind of guy who would be cool to learn windsurfing with, for sixteen two-hour sessions? I sent him a text later that night, “What happened with the windsurfing?” I asked him, “I thought you said you couldn’t make it?” And he texted me back right away, “My plans changed, windsurfing is awesome! You gotta sign up! I’ve never felt more alive!”

And so, I really want to try it. There’s this awesome deal on Living Social right now, it’s three hundred bucks, but you get unlimited windsurfing lessons for two weeks. I could move my vacation days around and work something out. Does anybody want to do it with me? Because Pete and Frank are doing it and it looks so cool. Wouldn’t it be great to be in like a four man windsurfing group of friends? Think about it. Let me know, ASAP.

I bought it on eBay

When I was in high school, I worked at a local restaurant, first behind the counter, scooping ice cream and making cappuccinos, and later on the floor, waiting tables and collecting tips. I’ve written about this before, but the result was four years where I had a lot of disposable income and almost nothing to spend it on. Sure, once I bought a car things changed a little bit. I had to buy gas and insurance and all of those repairs I needed from backing up into street signs and stuff like that. But I was still basically swimming in cash.


I had a computer in my bedroom with access to the Internet via a 56k modem which, yes, it’s inconceivably slow compared to my high-speed connection now, but I remember what pre-56k was like, and this was cutting edge at the time. At RadioShack I bought a really, really long telephone cable and I strung it from the downstairs phone jack all the way up to my bedroom upstairs. Presto, even before I bought my independence a couple of years later with my 1991 Dodge Stealth, now I had an outlet to almost anything I wanted.

I had the Internet. I had cash. There wasn’t anything else required. I would go on eBay and bid on all sorts of garbage. When I won a bid, I would get an envelope, I would stuff it with cash, and I’d wait for my treasure to arrive in the mail. Everything started out pretty small-time. One of my first bids was for a DVD copy of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. Ten bucks in the mail, it wasn’t too big of a risk. And everything worked out fine.

But my purchases started increasing in value. I was really big into Dragon Ball Z at the time, and being a Japanese import, I was limited to what the TV stations decided to translate and dub to English. I knew that more existed out there, entire seasons that weren’t brought to the US at a pace to my liking, accessories and even video games.

All of the video games were in Japanese, and only playable on the Super Famicom, Japan’s version of the Super Nintendo. So I did what any fifteen-year-old with money to burn would do: I found one on eBay, I bid on it along with all of the games, and I mailed out the cash to some random address in Arizona, hoping that the seller would make good on his or her end of the deal.

It was a little crazy, mailing all of that cash. Even eBay strongly advised against it, warning me that I should send money orders, or checks, or whatever. But this was before I had a car, so I couldn’t really get out of the house without raising questions from my mom and dad. “What do you need a money order for a hundred and dollars for? Japanese video games? No, sorry, I’m not driving you to the bank for that.”

And I don’t know if it was luck or if I happened to have only done business with the most reputable of international video game importers, but nobody ever just pocketed my cash. All of goods eventually arrived. And there were lots of goods. Some of the stuff was pretty mundane, like comic books, more video games.

But a lot of the stuff that I bid on and bought, it was stupid, the very definition of an impulse purchase. I bought a pair of nunchucks. Why? I don’t know. I thought it would have been cool. And it was cool for like three seconds, before I put them on a shelf somewhere in my childhood bedroom. They’re probably still there, collecting dust, a symbol of the clutter that I’m constantly accumulating as I make my way through life.

Twenty dollars for a model kit of that 1991 Dodge Stealth. I never set it up. I remember looking at all of those little pieces in the box and thinking to myself, yeah, maybe I’ll build this thing one day, all while another voice said matter-of-factly, you’ll never open this box again. Put it next to the nunchucks. Whatever, twenty bucks gone, who cares?

I bought an old beer clock from a bar, some ridiculous piece of rust that lit up when you plugged it in. There were weird used obscure punk rock t-shirts that, regardless of how many times I ran them through the spin cycle, I could never get that crusty cigarette smell to disappear completely. Probably the low point of my eBay consumerism was a piece of WWF wrestling paraphernalia I had sent to my house. It was only five dollars, and it seemed cool at the time: a Kurt Angle novelty driver’s license.

This thing showed up in an envelope, it was basically just a piece of white paper that was very obviously printed out of some guy’s printer, he must have hand cut it with a pair of scissors, and then ran through a laminating machine. It was so stupid, citing bogus made-up credentials, like, “Address: 100 Olympic Way.” Because he was in the Olympics. Get it?

I stared at it and finally had a moment of revelation, that I was just throwing money away, all in exchange for garbage. When was I ever going to use this driver’s license? It wasn’t even cool looking enough to keep in my wallet.

I’m glad I got my eBay phase done with while I was young, because every once in a while I’ll revisit the site, I’ll start typing in keywords related to my current interests. And yeah, lots of seemingly cool looking stuff pops up. With the “Buy-It-Now” feature, I’m only one click away from having whatever I want shipped to my house. And look, now I’m an adult, I have a credit card, I don’t have to worry about stuffing an envelope with a stack of fives and tens.

But I get a sense memory of that old dusty smell. It was identical, regardless of where a package was shipped. It smelled like the basement, like an attic. Like, wow, I have a bunch of crap lying around my house. Maybe I can get someone to buy it on eBay.

Just count to five

I was out getting some pizza for lunch. The guy gave me my slices, I paid, took a few steps toward the door and then thought, wait a second, I should have bought a soda. So I took a step back toward the counter, but the pizza guy was facing the other direction, he was standing by the oven, having a conversation with one of his coworkers.


I was really hungry, and I wanted to get home and eat that pizza as soon as possible, but I didn’t want to be a jerk. Still, one second turned into two seconds, and I began to fear that I might be stuck there in pizza counter limbo, my food getting cold, nobody realizing that I hadn’t actually left the building, that I was still standing there, patiently waiting to be noticed, just a soda, please, I’ll be on my way.

By the third or fourth second, I remembered this one time I was at a bagel shop on Long Island. There were maybe four or five people ahead of me in line, but the guy right in front of me, you could just tell he wasn’t in the mood to be waiting, he kept fidgeting, looking around. As soon as the person in front of him paid and walked away, there was this two or three second pause where the cashier didn’t automatically turn his way and ask, “Yes? Next?”

She closed the drawer on the register, she took a bottle of Snapple out from under the counter, and she took a sip. As she was putting the cap back on the bottle, Mr. impatient in front of me, he screams out, “Can I please just get a sesame bagel with butter?” like really nasty, it was a yelling, he yelled out his order, like a total crazy person.

And I have no idea what this guy’s life is like. Maybe he had some sort of a family emergency back home, maybe he needed food in his stomach immediately, it’s pure conjecture. But I don’t know, regardless of whatever it is that you’re going through, I don’t find it ever acceptable to just shout things at people, “You! Give me a bagel!”

She didn’t even say anything. She just got him the bagel, put it in a bag, and he walked out in a huff. It was one of those moments where I really wanted to say something, a, “Take it easy, buddy,” something not too aggressive, but just aggressive enough. But I always get afraid of these random confrontations. It’s like, when I’m at work, I always think, man, if I didn’t have my job to worry about, I’d totally say something to this rude person or that inconsiderate guest. But then I get an opportunity like this in real life, and the moment passes without my having even mustered the courage to do anything.

And I get it, all the time at work, sometimes people have to wait, sometimes people refuse to wait. I think I write this almost every time I mention work or customer service, but you get a certain type of person who sits down and, while you’re in the middle of saying, “Hello!” or, “How’s it going today?” they’ll cut you off and bark out, “Diet Coke. No ice.”

Whenever I complain about stuff like this, or whenever I hear conversations regarding rude customers and their lack of pleasantries, there are always a few sure rebuttals, stuff like, “Well that’s your job,” and, “I’m not paying to be friends with you. I’m paying for a Diet Coke.” Yeah, you’re paying for a soda, you’re paying for a bagel.

And this argument is total bullshit, this idea that because you’re paying, because you are exchanging your money for something, that you don’t have to be nice. Sorry, I don’t mind being polite, but I’m hungry, and it’s my money involved, and so if you don’t like my acting like a dick, I’ll just go ahead and spend my dollar fifty for a bagel somewhere else.

Business is business, and so if push ever did come to shove, if that lady at the bagel place decided to fight back, it would have been a screaming match, the owner would have gotten involved, “Please, sir, I’m so sorry. Please, have this bagel, on the house. We appreciate your business. Please, I beg you, I’ll fire this lady. I value your patronage, don’t leave, here take another bagel, a free dozen.”

Unfortunately, this is the reality of customer service. I’m paying, so even though I shouldn’t be a jerk, I don’t have to not be a jerk. Because I’m paying. If you try to distill every human interaction into a monetary transaction, this is the natural result, where it’s perfectly acceptable to bark out orders or chew out the man or woman behind the counter.

And then the fifth second turned into the sixth second, I snapped out of my daydream at the pizza place, the pizza guy finished his two-sentence conversation and turned around. “What’s up boss, you need anything else?”

“Yeah, can I just get a soda please? Thank you.”

“You got it.”

And I went home, my pizza was still hot. Sure, I think I lost like seven seconds total, and yeah, I guess you can’t really put a price on time. Time is money, right? But everything was cool, I didn’t have to shout out, I didn’t have to interrupt. Everybody just needs to chill out and take a breath. Just count to five, man, just count to ten or eleven.