Getting the last word in

A while back I was a rep for an investment company. We’d schedule appointments and meet with people to try to get them to buy our stuff. I did this for about six months. We had a script we’d run through, and sort of adapt to the person we were talking to. The schpiel took about two hours. Early on, they’d pair us up with a more experienced coworker to go out to our appointments. Sometimes we’d get the sale. A lot of the time we didn’t.

One of the guys I worked with was good at talking with people, but his “confidence” out-paced his impulse control sometimes. He didn’t do this on any of my appointments, but I heard about him getting frustrated with a prospective client and telling the man, “You’re gonna die broke!”

I remember being rather puzzled at that. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘You can’t take it with you.’ It was a stupid thing to say. Maybe on a rare occasion a broker might be able to insult their way into a sale by guilting a client, who’d said no, into investing. I doubt it happens very often. The statement is usually a “last word” dropped by someone who can’t accept their own failure at an encounter.

But what does that mean, to ‘die broke?’ It sounds like another idle phrase that people throw around that goes unexamined, like the way people talk about someone not having a ‘pot to piss in.’

In our post-modern times of finance and accounts, and everything having a price tag, it could mean that the client won’t be leaving anything to family. It could also mean that the client won’t have enough savings to pay for their final arrangements. This is what happens quite often.

But let’s look into it’s possible history. The other phrase I mentioned, about people being so poor they didn’t have a pot to piss in goes back centuries to the time when people collected urine to sell to the tanner. Urine was used to tan leather. It had value. It was worth not just spilling on the ground. If you didn’t even have that much means you were in a pretty bad place in the culture.

Dying broke may have meant that you had nothing to give to the ferryman, Charon. Those who cared for the dead placed a coin on the eyes or mouth of the deceased as payment for their passage across the rivers of the underworld to Hades.

I’m the one who thinks of this stuff. I doubt my boisterous and loud former colleague, from several presidents back, had any idea that this was an implication of what he was saying.

Queer as a $2 Bill: Conscious thought vs. being on autopilot

I went to the bank yesterday to close out an account. The teller gave me a couple of $2 bills with the rest of the cash from my account. These were dated 2003 and I don’t see them very often. My first thought, before I came to my senses, was to not spend them. This wasn’t a thought of holding them as part of an emergency cash reserve. I was thinking of holding then as a keepsake, the way a lot of people held onto the bills when they were reissued back in 1976.

When I got outside the bank, I realized that my thought was a preprogrammed response to having something more or less rare. Why do we do that? And why “paper money?” It has no value as a numismatic and won’t for maybe 100 years. it’s just like the knee-jerk collectors of the “gold-tone” dollar coins. I get those in change a lot because there is a change machine at work. There’s always someone wanting to give me ones for them.

The United States currency worth collecting is either silver and gold American Eagles or gold or silver coins which were issued pre-1964. The rest is only worth spending or holding as a cash reserve.

The money is just the object or the symptom. The thing really needing examining us why we are on autopilot when consciousness involves identification followed by action. It’s true that a lot worse happens to people from being on autopilot than sticking money in a hope chest. Walk into any cemetery and you’ll pass by the grave of someone who was both their own victim and someone else’s.

I try to catch myself doing this as often as possible. My goal is to make conscious decisions and actions 100% of the time. As preppers we should always be as innocent as doves and wise as serpents. There are real serpents out there who aren’t so innocent.