The Twenty-Dollar Jerk

When I was maybe 17 or so, several of my friends and I were working on a project, building something in my backyard. We needed more supplies, so I gave $20 to one of my friends so he could go and buy them. Instead, he absconded with the money, never to return. I don’t know if he did something nefarious with his newfound wealth or if he simply didn’t respect us, but he was gone.

I was pretty steamed about it, and sought my dad out for advice, as I often did. He laughed and said, “Do you know how rich I’d be if I’d gotten rid of every scumbag in my life for only twenty dollars? What a bargain!” His point was this – some people are going to be scoundrels and will try to take advantage of you. Some will even succeed. If you can eliminate such people from your life on the cheap, then that’s a great deal. The alternative is that they stay longer, and either cause you a larger harm later or many smaller harms before they’re seen for what they are.

It’s a great kindness when someone hands you a free pass like that. Don’t get mad about the twenty bucks. Be thrilled that you bought a lot of future happiness at such a low price. If only you could eliminate every jerk from your life for $20 apiece, you’d take that bargain in a heartbeat!

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