Something is better than nothing

 

People always called me a dreamer

They said I had grand ideas that would never come true.

Me?

I saw America as a place of opportunity as long as you are tough enough, wise enough and sometimes mean enough.

I thought I had what it takes to climb out of the ghetto my parents moved into when they came here from the old country

I wasnít tough the way some local Italian boys were.

I always saw myself as brainy, thinking ahead of things so I never had to use my fists, and later, got rich enough to hire people to do that sort of things when and if there was a need.

I also wanted to stay as much on the right side of the law as possible.

I saw what happened to wise guys after a while and I knew I didnít want that to happen to me.

So I looked to business as my way out, starting up something in the back of my parentsí garage while I was in high school.

Anything I could get cheap in bulk and resell, I would Ė from cigarettes to t-shirts.

I did all right, too.

Well enough to put myself through City College where I learned even better the fine art of making money.

But I learned other more terrifying lessons there, too.

Sooner or later Ė if I wanted to get where I intended to go Ė I would have to take a leap of faith and risk everything.

And I would have to be wise enough to realize when such an opportunity came.

For years, I make my money the old-fashioned way, seeing nothing so grand that I wanted to gamble my lifeís earnings on it.

Instead, I prepared myself, making honest and sometimes not so honest profits as best I could, taking small steps out of my familyís garage to a small warehouse.

My big chance came while flying back from a business trip in Toronto.

A man in the seat beside mine had just come into a very large shipment of perhaps not yet surplus uniforms out of Iraq.

He said it was a great deal for the right man, then quoted me a price.

Such a cost I could not raise without mortgaging my whole life.

Yet I already had gold in my eyes, and visions of the canal street stores I could dump the stuff into at an exorbitant profit.

I sold everything I could sell, and mortgaged the rest, taking a loss on some things I knew with time I could have haggled for more.

But with each deal I told myself this was the opportunity of a life time.

If I let it go I might never see its like again.

When I met with the man from the plane again, he tells me heís had some legal hassles getting the stuff back into the United States and that I would have to bid for the lot if I wanted to buy it.

Bid?

The word struck an ugly chord in me.

So did the fact that the price the man quoted on the plan was now the bottom figure in the bidding and if I intended to make the killing I dreamed of, I would have to come up with more cash.

But where?

I told my house Ė again at a ridiculously low price.

And my Mercedes.

Then I learned there are several other anxious bidders and that I would nearly have enough to get the lot if they are as determined to buy it as I am.

So I go down to Canal Street and talk with the business owners there.

I propose we pool our resources to buy the shipment.

Sure, this kills the killing I hoped to make on them.

And maybe Iíll never see a bid deal again in my life

But I didnít work my way out of the old garage by being stupid.

Something is better than nothing, and Iím too old to start over.

 

 


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