Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jackass: the luck of the entrepreneuer

I suppose I might be considered lucky. At one time or another we all are considered to be that way. At least I am told this from time to time. I don't feel lucky, though. In fact, I have never really thought about how luck plays into much that I do but I can tell you that I don't carry around a buckeye or kiss a key chain or skip over cracks in the sidewalk. In fact, I think the concept of luck is pretty much bullshit.

Life is about making things happen, no? Not just some whimsical fortune, sweeping in and making life good. To be honest, I get pissed if somebody says I am lucky. Lucky means you didn't earn it, that you were "chosen" to benefit by some sort of benevolent cherry picking--that you are special somehow, chosen among others, without reason, or perhaps with reason, because you are special. Here is a sentence for you to consider. "That lucky bastard always has all the luck".

Ok, so I did "get" lucky once. I loaded a slot machine up with quarters when the first casino opened in St. Charles back in 1995 or 96. Here is the luck--I was lucky that my wife went out of town for the weekend so I could sneak over there with my bro, Matt Modica. Or maybe I was lucky to not have run out of gas on the way there, or lucky that I didn't get hit by a falling pigeon while leaving my car. It wasn't that I was lucky to hit the jackpot on a slot. I was smart enough to go home directly after winning, purchasing a car, a lawn mower and a TV before the weekend was done.

I parlayed that 2700 like cooks making casseroles out of leftovers. I am certain that it wasn't luck, more like....jackass entrepreneurship.

Now (I need to preface) this was quite a while ago, so don't judge me on all this stuff. I certainly don't go to casinos for entertainment and loath the thought of dropping a dime on anything owned by say...the Isle of Capri Casino. In fact, I don't really go out much now, except to eat or go to a movie, perhaps a blues show or a meeting for a brew on business. Catch me at The Wolf if you want to see what I do on Wednesdays, 15480 Clayton Road, doors open at 6:00.

But that night, after winning the 27 C's, I went to a bar and "by chance" met a guy who had just gotten out of jail. He was down on his luck, had been picked up for missing a court date or something, I really didn't ask. He was a car salesman who did a little work on the side with a friends dealers license. He was nervous that his friend was on his way to the bar and wanted him to pay him back the money that he had posted for his bail.

While I was leaving he came out and asked me if I was in the market for a Jeep and pointed to the corner of the lot.

Under the light of a neon sign, there was a 1986 Grand Cherokee Jeep Woody, kind of rough, but we all know what woody jeeps are majorly within the "style quotient". I immediately told him I would give him 500 bucks without looking inside or driving it. Deal!

I was to contact him to get the title in a few days and we made a handshake agreement. Now, some of you are sitting there thinking, A) Ralph is a total dumbass for giving the dude (just out of jail) 5 bills. Or B) He is brilliant for going "all-in" on the friggin Woody...

I sold the car for 2700 bucks, the same amount that I won at the casino roughly two years to the date, to a student at a local college, who had to have that car as part of his personal ensemble. I drove that jeep as a third car up to 250,000 miles, had 203,000 when I first got drove it home from the bar. It just never stopped running and when the time came to sell it, I was sad. I am still sad, because I am not sure if I have ever (percentage wise) had as good a ROI than that crazy deal.

Was it luck that Chris Hitler, (yes, that was the guys name) happened in to the bar where I was gloating my winnings to the smokers and beer guzzlers mumbling under their breath what a lucky bastard I was? Did something line us up in order to provide him with what he needed to square a debt and me the good fortune of getting a 300% return? I think not. I took action.

It was the beginning of the game and sometimes you have to throw the dice.

Be careful out there.

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