Buyer’s RemorseAugust 5, 2014
You pass by a guy squat outside a grocery store and that guy says to you, “Give me a dollar.”
You are not a judgmental soul, not by your earthly nature. If you were to judge anyone, you would judge only you. And honestly, you would be most severe with yourself.
“Why not,” you tell you. Life is easy now. God or Krishna or Christopher Hitchens down in Hell has blessed your ambivalent spirituality. This very moment, you have even got twice the cash in coins there in your front trousers pocket. That change would only go spent on doing laundry or on kindness to hapless strangers ahead of you in queue at cashier counters.
So, “Here you go,” you tell the dusty fellow there now on his knees. You give him a one dollar bill from your wallet, because you remember you have whites to do. Evangelizing responsibility, you also ask him, “What is it for?”
“Nothing,” he answers you.
Hallowed as you are, you inform him, “You get nothing from nothing.”
He chuckles. “I got a dollar. I got a dollar for askin’.
He then spits and says, “I musta asked a hundred people today, forty-times-forty. You’re the first person whose given me what I asked you for.”
“Well, maybe if you made an effort,” you suggest.
You tell him specifically, “Maybe if you give people something of value.”
You nod. “Hmm-hmm.”
He agrees with you. “I got good advice I can sell you for two dollars. You don’t get that for one.”
Curious and flush with coins less valuable than a quarter, I propose, “I’ll give you another dollar for your two-dollar advice. You can keep the first one I gave you.”
“I intend to.”
“Here you go,” you say in good faith and pour a fountain of bronze and nickel into the man’s open palm.
He tells you nothing.
Irked, you insist, “Well?”
“The advice is two dollars.”
“I gave you two.”
“A dollar bill,” he claims. “And that doesn’t count. That was for asking the first question. Thanks for giving me the idea.”
You think about charging him for your consultancy, but at this point, you anticipate a court battle.
“Give me my money back,” you resort to say.
“It’s not yours,” he tells you. “You gave it to me. Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
Frustrated, you throw up your arms and walk away. Your back is turned but before you think you have vanished from everyone’s sight, the guy yells to you, “There’s your lesson.”
You go home angry.
As graced as you find yourself to be at home, today was another outside you became less charitable. And there is what you learned, what you paid for fairly. Your bitterness is not more than buyer’s remorse.
— Matthew Sawyer –