Money don’t make a man

“You shoulda been a shrink.”

You know you’re hitting it off with the random guy at the bar when he snarls those words at you in between his sips of bourbon. I was back in Texas recently for my family reunion and during the layover, I saddled up to the bar and the gent’ next to me struck up conversation. We’re both from speck-on-the-map sized towns but, aside from that and the fact we were both breathing, our similarities ended there.

Somehow, he got talking about his work as a hedge fund manager: “I don’t care if my employs call me a motherfucker. I just want money, money, money.” True story, folks. He actually said that to me…with pride. So, naturally, I asked him how a small town farm boy ends up being money obsessed. That’s when he got all snarky with the shrink comment.

To sum it up, he was good at math and wanted to be an anomaly by amassing huge wealth since the odds were stacked against him. He told me that even though he’s just 35 years old, he doesn’t have to work anymore, but he isn’t going to stop working until he has $10 billion “because $10 billion can become $100 billion in about 11 years.” I have to confess, I can’t really fathom that kind of money. It sounds as plausible as $10 bajillion to me.

“Do you want to do something noble with the money,” I asked. “No. Not really,” he replied un-apologetically.

The exchange stuck with me. How does someone who grew up with such humble means become this way? Why does anyone need that much money if they have no plans to help others? What is the point of living if you’re just going to grind through work, stockpile money and then die one day? I fundamentally don’t understand this kind of thinking. It makes me sad to think of all the under-privileged people who go without having their basic needs met while this guy hordes dough for the sake of proving a poor boy can beat the odds. Money ain’t evil. People do evil shit with money.

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