Sebastian Schmuck was dumbing down. He was a multi-billionaire and was sick of having too much stuff. For example, why did he need two helicopters when one was more than enough? Why did he need a whole acre of fairground rides for his grandchildren when they never visited? He would raffle things off and give the money to charity. Raffling for charity always sold more tickets.
Romuald and Tatiana Stevenson lived a quiet life in the suburbs of the same city as Sebastian. They weren’t rich but they had enough to go on. Imagine Tatiana’s surprise when Romuald came home one day and said he’d bought a raffle ticket for a helicopter.
“What on earth do we need a helicopter for? You can’t even drive it. Where would we park it? We have nowhere to go in the silly thing. Goodness me! Let’s hope we don’t win.”
A few weeks later Romuald got a phone call.
“You’ll be glad to know,” said Romuald putting down the phone, “that we didn’t win the helicopter.”
“Thank goodness!” exclaimed Tatiana.
“But we got second place,” said Romuald, “and we won a fairground-sized Ferris wheel.”
Look, life’s not everything it’s cracked up to be. People dream of being rich. I can tell you straight: it’s not always all joy being a billionaire.
Everyone pesters you all the time for a helping hand. They haven’t got this; they haven’t got that. Why should I be able to afford all this stuff when they have enough trouble putting a boiled potato on the table?
I own seven houses – these are not the ones I rent out; these are the ones I live in at different times of the year. People have to realize that when you’re not in a house for twelve months of the year you have to pay a person to maintain the house. And a gardener; they’re not cheap these days. All I hear is moan, moan, moan from some people. No wonder they’re not rich; how can a moaner make a fortune?
But I want to point out something in all seriousness. I know this family a few blocks from where I live. They live in not the most respectable part of town. I know them because I got the wife there to sew me some special hot-plate mittens using a fabric I particularly liked. She worked from home as a seamstress. You know what? Their fridge broke down. I could’ve bought them a new fridge, just like that. But I didn’t. They skimped and saved and when they could afford it they bought and paid for their new fridge. It was yellow. They were so happy that the husband called into work sick for the day it arrived and they spent the rest of the day going in and out of their kitchen looking at the thing. It was wonderful. A joyful thing.
I’ve never known that. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being a billionaire. But there are some things – like the excitement and joy of a new fridge – I can’t buy.