As I speed towards the center of the room, I feel a presence next to me. I wonder if my paranoia is acting up again or if someone is trying to keep me away from what’s rightfully mine.
I didn’t look around to confirm, but I increased the speed. I feel like a woman power-walking in a retirement community, picking up the pace to beat Eileen, who insists she bakes the best sugar cookies.
I feel the breeze of somebody about to pass me by, and without looking, I drive my elbow into the non-descript person’s stomach. I dropped the pretenses and started running towards my $100 bill.
That bill was mine.
I made it to the stage where the speaker held the bill. I covered the last two feet of distance by jumping with my right arm up high and grabbing the $100 bill.
The room erupted in laughter and applause. I think.
The speaker congratulated me.
I winked at him, letting him know that I knew he was a douche but that his secret was safe.
As I was walking back, I saw who my competition was.
It was Chris.
My stomach sank. I had elbowed someone I liked in my journey to get easy money.
That’s what competition does to you. It makes you elbow people you like.
Chris was one of my clients, and I liked working with him. He was waiting for me on the stage. We shook hands and laughed about the whole thing.
When the speaker let us out for dinner, I found Chris and told him we would get some nice whiskey with the $100.
“We are both winners,” I told him, knowing full well that I was the only one with a brand new $100 bill in his pocket.
I was glad I only had to share my spoils with Chris. Franklin can buy nice whiskey for one or two people, but once you start adding people to the group, the quality of what you can get goes down until the only thing you can afford is Jameson or scooter fuel.
Chris and I made our way to the bar, which was a quiet bar frequented by locals in beautiful and exclusive Lafayette, California. We talked about work, our families, and how we both fell for the $100 bill play in the past.
Neither of us fully acknowledged our role in a bigger societal scheme: the initiation ritual of those going into business hoping to change the world, disrupt technology, or become a powerhouse name. But more importantly, the desire to put at least one million dollars in the bank account so they can retire young.
Once in the bar, I looked at the whiskey shelves to see what we could drink to use my entire winnings. I was ready to spend it all in the same place I got it.
My eyes landed on a beautiful bottle.
It was a single-grain Kawasaki 18 years.
The bottle’s glass was a deep dark amber, the label a maroon color with gold lettering. The design was esthetically mesmerizing but just a teaser for what was to come. The whiskey had a mature and balanced, oaky flavor. It didn’t linger for too long, and, even neat, it made its way softly down my throat.
Once we finished our whiskey and the talk had run its course, I asked the bartender to close the tab. I pulled the $100 out of my pocket; nice, shiny, and ironed. It was brimming with the brand-new smell money has when a thousand hands have not yet touched it.
I’m not a financial advisor, but here is a good tip: If you don’t recognize the alcohol you are ordering from a nationally advertised campaign, it is always a good idea to ask how much it costs.
I didn’t do that. I had a fleeting thought I should have. But I dismissed it. I told myself it wasn’t the time. I told myself, ‘It is probably less than $100 because the universe knows that’s what I won today’.
I was giddy with excitement because I had found a cool-looking bottle, and when I see a cool-looking bottle of whiskey, I order it. But this time, I ordered it without realizing that gold lettering can lead you to leave the equivalent of a car payment in the black leather check presenter.
Each ounce of whiskey was $110 for a total of $220. If you factor in California taxes, the sunshine tax, Gavin Newsom’s haircut, and a twenty percent tip, the tab was closer to $300.
I know, I know. Twenty percent feels rich when the only difference between serving expensive whiskey and the house vodka is stretching slightly farther. I never give less than twenty percent. Reaching for something might be an easy job. But dealing with drunks and boisterous salespeople isn’t.
I put my $100 bill back into my pocket and pulled my credit card to pay for the two drinks. If I was going to pay for my bad decisions, I would at least get reward points. In that way, I could redeem them later and get my wife a gift to thank her for agreeing to spend her life with me — an easy mark.
I have no one to blame but me. I mean, who gets an 18-year Japanese whiskey without asking the price — especially in a fancy bar in posh Lafayette, California?
I deserve my luck, but bad decisions are more palatable when the whiskey is good.