Rich People Suck
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Napoleon Hill “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”
Everybody in my small town knew my Aunt Bernice. Bernice was the type of person who never had a good day. She never had anything nice to say about anyone or anything, she argued and picked fights with everybody on the block, she talked behind everyone’s back, she had a mouth like you wouldn’t believe and even though Bernice and I were related she once called the cops on my brother and I for riding motorcycles on the main road. Other than that Bernice was a good lady
I was just 12 years old in the summer of 1981 and like many families do in the summer we were having an outdoor reunion BBQ of sorts when Gene, Bernice’s next door neighbor, parks his brand new Caddy Coup De Ville in front of her house instead of his. Now there were reasons for that. Many of our family members had blocked his usual parking space and he just found the most logical place to park amongst this car cornucopia. Gene made no big deal of it, said nothing to my family and walked in his home.
Gene was our towns baller. He owned a few hardware stores, had the nicest house on the block and took vacations to exotic places that I couldn’t pronounce but Bernice isn’t going to let that get in the way of causing some drama. She was so worked up about him parking his car on “her turf” she immediately goes to his home, knocks on his door, orders him to move his car and Bernice was not at all polite about it. Well, Gene tells Bernice “where am I supposed to park”. This infuriates Bernice and she is not only yelling at him but she is putting on a great acting performance. My entire family had to physically remove Bernice from Genes property before he called the police or something. Once they get Bernice back on her property everyone thought Bernice had settled down but then she grabs a big bowl of Macaroni salad, goes out in the road, yells out the words “rich people suck” and dumps the Macaroni salad all over Genes car. My Uncle then put Berenice in his car and removes her from her own house and Gene moves his car. My dad then apologized to Gene and made my brother and I hose off his car. How we got stuck with this I don’t know
On the drive home my Dad starts divulging in the life of Bernice. I think he felt he needed to as my brother and I were probably too young to see that drama. He tells the story of how Bernice wanted to be a dancer and an actress in New York City but decided not to leave home because she was uncertain she had what it took.(judging by the drama in that argument I think she was a great actress) He told us how Bernice’s two children has spent their adult lives in and out of jail, how she married a man she hated and ultimately got divorced . Then he tells us the man she was first engaged to was none other than Gene himself. Holy ……! My Dad goes on to say “Bernice has lived that last 35 years of her life with regrets and what ifs. Because she has never fulfilled her life she thinks it’s her job to ruin everyone else’s. Sometimes it’s better to live with failure than to let the what ifs eat you alive. Sometimes you just need to know”
My dad is a man of few words and even at my young age I knew his tone was serious. Dad would always tell my brother and I through our young years that “there is no shame in failing there is shame in not trying”. I think this was important to him because in his own way he had goals and dreams and because he may have been afraid to try or more importantly afraid to fail he was also burdened with a mountain of what ifs. Somehow this behavior always stuck with me. Throughout my adult life I failed at many things but as much as my ego would get shellacked it was much easier to deal with the emotional pain because at least I knew. I knew where I stood, I knew what I was made of and there would be nothing left on the table. No what ifs. I promised myself I would never be the old person, on my front porch swing, living with a mountain of unanswered questions and talking about how great I used to be
Both Gene and Bernice passed on in the mid 1990’s and I attended both ceremonies. At Genes funeral the room was decorated with all of the pictures from the places he traveled. His children spoke of all the great moments they cherished growing up. His associates spoke of his generosity and how he donated 50% of his life’s savings to several charities and his wife told a touching story about how it was “love at first sight” and the many years they spent together. At Bernice’s ceremony, with all do respect, was nowhere near that. There were no pictures or stories or the support that Gene received. It was obvious as I was now a young adult that rich people do not suck. Gene was a person took life head on and attacked it. Gene touched people, inspired them and made a difference to the lives of those around him, Bernice did not.
We have to give it everything we got at all times to get the most enjoyment and fulfillment out of our lives. We cant leave anything to chance or let unanswered questions eat us alive for an eternity. This doesn’t apply to business only this also applies to our relationships, our family and our colleagues. Sure sometimes some nasty crap is gonna backfire and there will always be a few deep scars that need to be healed but man, the stories you will be able to tell from that front porch swing