“Left Behind” or Just “Left Out”
There was a series of books that were very popular a few years back entitled “Left Behind” dealing with the end of the age when all of the “Good” are carried away and the “Non-Good” are “left behind”. There was a movie by the same name starring Nicholas Cage.
But, I realized the other day, what I guess I’ve known but just could not really accept as fact that I have already been “left behind” by the world and society that I live in. When we look at some of the people who have seemed to drop out of society and the “normal” way of life that is acceptable, it may be explainable when you see how the world has moved ahead of so many us and there seems no way to catch up.
A few weeks ago, I was at the Mall and thought I would stop by the Polo (Ralph Lauren) store and look at some shoes. I have a pair that I bought there a long time back and I really like them. I’ve had them resoled and they are now starting to look a little rough at this point. I paid about $165 back then, as I recall.
When I found a pair similar to the ones I have, they were priced at about $500. I just could not see paying $500 although I realize things are more expensive today than days gone by. I see a lot of shoes in the $200 to $250 range, and although that is a lot of money, that is more understandable and acceptable. My “impulse buy limit” is far below the $500 level so I did not buy the shoes.
But….. Things were put in to even greater perspective for me today as I was sitting in an office waiting room reading a magazine. This was an “upscale” magazine with a lot of diamond watches and bracelets, etc. There, I ran across an ad for golf shoes.
The ad showed pro golfer Jim Furyk on the green looking at a putt and wearing some sorta dorky golf shoes (I think he does ads for Adidas) and the ad refers to his “sneakers” in a disparaging way. Below the ad, there is a pair of Berluti golf shoes. The price: $3430.00! That’s right, a pair of golf shoes for $3430.00. Also pictured were a set of luggage (two suitcases, $13,500) and a briefcase.
Now, I realize that to a number of 1%’ers that is pocket change. Spending that kind of money is like me spending $10 and they don’t miss it. But, it does make one pause to realize that I have been left that far behind. And the world looks at these with mixed opinions. One, they deserve it and are entitled to it. Another, is, they should not be allowed to accumulate that kind of obscene wealth. They should be forced to give it to the needy. Someone else, of course, would decide who the “needy” are and often they are somehow connected to the politician or group doing the talking!
Now, I have to question that the world needs golf shoes that cost that much money. The only conclusion that I could reach is that the really rich don’t want to show up at the club with a pair of shoes on just like some ordinary CPA might be wearing. If it requires $3430.00 to separate you from the partner at the CPA firm or the bank president, then so be it. If you have to buy a $1,500,000 Bugatti, then that’s just the way it is!
Now, if I had a billion $$, I can’t say how I would act. I would like to think I would be kind, charitable, and spend wisely and not be throwing away money on $3430 golf shoes. (Especially since my old golf shoes haven’t been used in several years.) Certainly, I would have a problem plunking down the $1.5 Mil on the Bugatti. But an old friend always said that God knew what he was doing when he made us poor. Had we been rich, my friend says, the Devil would have had a death grip on us.
Now, I could see a nice car. But probably not a Lamborghini. A nice house, but not a $50 Million dollar house. (Maybe several “nice” houses in some special places, like Alaska, Montana, Patagonia, and Malibu. I would want a complete set of clothes at each location so no $13, 500 suitcases would be needed. (My former young wealthy neighbor did not pack for a trip. He and his wife bought the clothes they wanted to wear at their destination and left them in the room when they returned home!)
I can’t say that the $3430 shoes looked all that great to me. I suppose in a few circles, if a fellow golfer was familiar with Berluti shoes they would cast an envious glance at them. Most of the guys I played golf with would be wondering why in the world someone would have on a pair of uncomfortable and heavy looking shoes like that. Of course, I could leave the price tag on them to shut them up. But, then, they would say “You must be crazy spending $3430 on a pair of golf shoes.”
I don’t think I have ever known an actual “Billionaire”. I have known several people with mega millions. In their everyday doings, they did not exude great wealth.
One belonged to the Piedmont Driving Club and The Peachtree Club. He had married an heiress and she died in the ‘40’s. Someone who knew him well said he never cashed any stock in and just let it split and split and split and he had so much money he really did not know what to do with it. He died with no children and gave all his money to some charities.
He never seemed to have a cent except for those two luxuries. The “assessment” at Peachtree Club is probably more than I made in my best year. (He took me there once to play and I don’t believe he had $3430 shoes.) The others all had some area of their life that they spent money on but then complained about the price of a menu item at the local restaurant. Most of them were more worried about hanging on to their money than throwing it away.
One very wealth guy said his very wealthy mother took his kids skiing. When she got back, she wanted him to refund half of the cost of the ski trip saying “it cost a lot of money to take the grandkids skiing.” His response was very understanding and sympathetic: “Mother, you have a lot of money!” He did not do the refund!
But then we come to the really, really rich. One showed his brother in law a family portrait they had had done and suggested that the brother in law should have one done of his family. After all, it was only about $100,000! The really rich guy did not realize that his brother in law was a long, long way “behind”.
I go over to the local Orvis store occasionally and observe and listen to the conversations between the customer and the store personnel. They will tell a lot about what they are doing and what they are buying. Many times they are getting a whole new fly fishing outfit for their upcoming trip. New waders, boots, rod, reel, lines, and clothing . They drop $2500 and walk out with a lot of stuff they will use once and never use again. If they were really interested in fishing, they would already have most of the stuff, you see. But they will look real good the once they do go.
The idea of “looking right” is important when you are off with an important client. For the average fly fisherman, a $120 rod and a $40 reel from Cabela’s will catch as many fish as the $750 Helios Rod from Orvis. But, they don’t make the “statement”. On the top shelf of the closet, they both work the same.
I read where the number of fisherman and golfers had declined by about a million each in the past few years. It may be they have priced themselves out of the mainstream but the high rollers don’t have to deal with as much riff raft as they use to and there is nobody there to step on their $3430 golf shoes! There is a Stratos bass boat at Cabela’s that cost $72,000. I might get two. One for a spare, you know.
I guess we should not feel ill toward people spending money on these trifles. What else could they do with it? Feed the hungry, fund a few scholarships, build a hospital, etc? Or, give some to me!? If they dropped some $50 Dollar bills to leave a trail, I probably still could not catch up to them to get my donation, I am so far behind.
Well, I won’t be asking them for any money because I am so far behind they could not hear me if I asked. The fellow building the $100 Million dollar house on Malibu drives a Prius around town. Bill Gates is only leaving his kids a measly $30 Million apiece so as not to spoil them. Robert Plant doesn’t want to do a tour for $800 Million.
It is often pointed out that Warren Buffett still lives in the same house he has lived in for 40 years. He has nothing on me. If I live 20 more years, I will, likely, probably be saying the same thing! If I can hang on to it!
When they finally come to clean out my house they won’t have an “estate auction”. They will likely beg Goodwill to come pick it up so they won’t have to fool with it. Or, they will just call a big roll off dumpster!
I kept a few pieces from my mother and mother in law just to avoid having to give them away. The Duncan Phyfe table has been in the way now since 1978, but by Goodness, I have not let it go for free! I showed them!
I could do like the old miser in Forsyth, Ga. did with his old home full of priceless antiques. He wanted to make sure none of his relatives, who had never cared for him, could get their hands on his furniture. He ordered it all destroyed upon his death. His wishes were carried out. He really would liked to have taken it with him.
© 2015 HJC