Should I Have Given This Homeless Guy My Rolls Royce Phantom? (True Story)
The Rolls Royce Phantom.
Here’s The DM With My White Rolls From A Few Years Ago. (I Drive A Black One Now.)
It’s a beautiful car and it turns heads wherever we go, especially when Mark III climbs out and looks charming… just like his old man 😉
Recently, the Rolls needed to be fueled up so I pulled into a gas station and I climbed out to pump some gas. (Yeah, even The DM is stuck with self-serve sometimes.)
Meanwhile, some lady pulls up to put gas in her minivan.
“Is this your car?” she asked.
I said it was – lots of people ask and I’m happy to tell them it’s mine. Not in a cocky way but in a way like, “Yes, I’ve busted my tail to own this car.” And most people I meet appreciate the work I’ve put in to earn it as well as the craftsmanship of this amazing vehicle.
She put on her frowniest face and said condescendingly, “I wonder how many people could have been fed and housed for the money you threw away on that over-the-top obnoxious car.” She pointed down the street – and there, sitting by the stoplight with a cardboard sign, was a man with begging people for money.
I looked at her and smiled. I’d heard this before…
“I don’t know the exact number but it’s helped a hell of a lot of people,” I said.
She looked at me like I was from Mars and asked what I was talking about. I could see the wheels spinning in her head as she tried to compute what I just said. After all, the guy at the stoplight was still sitting there with his sign!
“The car dealer and sales guy I bought this car from earned a commission – enough to pay their mortgages and feed their families.
The sailors on the cargo ship who brought this car from the UK earned some money to feed and house their families.
The factory workers where the car was built earned their wages building this car and that helped to pay their mortgages and put food on the table for their families.
Don’t forget about the other companies that make components for the car or that extract the raw materials – the miners who mine the metals, the company that makes the tires… I could go on and on.”
Her mouth hung open. I could tell she was angry, and since I’m not one to back down, I continued…
“My parents were hard working people who never asked for a hand out. When money was tight, mom and dad worked extra shifts. I learned a strong work ethic from them that has helped me to this day.
My parents also taught me that when someone is facing difficult times, like the guy sitting over there with the sign, ‘helpful’ folks mistakenly think that a hand-out is what he needs. But that just robs him of his dignity. What he needs is a hand-up… a job that gives him a purpose and allows him to earn a wage.
If I gave away the money I spent on this car to someone like that guy with the sign, he may benefit in the short term from the money he didn’t work for; meanwhile, what happens to all those workers who didn’t get paid because I didn’t’ buy this car?
It’s about a value exchange: the guy who built my car wakes up every morning to go to work so he can feed his family… we don’t know what he went through to get this job. Meanwhile, I’ve seen the guy on the corner standing at that corner for 2+ years now… what value is he giving to the world and to himself?
And where does it stop? You can criticize me for the car I drive, but there is someone who rides the bus but looks at your minivan and wonders why you aren’t distributing your money in the same way.
What I love about capitalism is this: This car keeps feeding families. Because, when I’m done pumping my gas, I’ll pay for my fuel and that money will be combined with the money you’re paying for your fuel to help feed the gas station employee, the gas station owner, the trucker who brought the fuel here, and the hard workers who extracted the oil and turned it into gas.
… And none of that would happen if I just given out my money for free. But because capitalism rewards value, this car will continue to feed the gas station and the mechanic and the guy who washes it.”
I finished pumping my gas, went to the gas bar attendant, and paid the guy… a small contribution toward his mortgage and his family’s food.
What do you think? Was I clear enough to the lady? Was I too harsh? I’d like your input…
Your Friend And Mentor,
Mark Evans DM,DN