About a month ago I sat down at a poker game in the Bellagio. A player two seats to my left stands up and says, "Excuse me everyone- I need to make an announcement. The most honest player in poker has just sat down at the table. That is all."
I wasn't sure if he was talking about me or not. If anything, I figured that he was being sarcastic because I play somewhat deceptively.
"You know what I'm talking about, right?" He asked me.
"No, not really."
"The other day, when you found that guy's chip."
Oh yeah. A couple days prior I was sitting at the same table, and while paying the drink lady for my green tea, I dropped one of my blue $1 chips onto the floor. I scooched my chair back and bent over to look on the floor and was surprised to find not only my $1 chip, but a yellow chip worth a thousand dollars.
I picked up the chip. No person or cameras saw it. If I wanted to, I could easily pocket it. Instead I held it up and asked if anyone at the table lost $1000. The guy to my right said that it was his and I handed to him.
It didn't really even cross my mind to take the chip. It's not because I'm a nice person-- after all I specifically sat to this guy's left because he was a bad poker player, and I wanted to win as much as possible from him (the left of someone is generally the best place to exploit their weaknesses from). It's because I don't want to have to deal with the consequences.
What are the consequences of taking $1000 from someone who would probably never notice that it's missing? There's one and it's a big one: I'd have to be the kind of person that would do that.
I live in my mind. Right now it's a nice place to be. But if I steal $1000, then I'm living in the mind of someone who doesn't follow his own ethics. I have to live with the incongruity of believing that taking money is wrong, but doing it anyway. I also invite myself to ponder other grey areas; after all, if I've taken money that wasn't mine once, why wouldn't I do it again?
I read a book recently called "Sins of South Beach" by Alex Daoud, the former mayor of South Beach. It's a shockingly honest story (which is only really possible because he ratted on everyone) of his transformation from idealistic crusader to corrupt politician. One of the things that struck me most was his inner dialog during the part where he was corrupt. You could tell that although he was accumulating power and money, he was becoming less and less happy. It didn't surprise me-- I can't imagine being a happy person living with that sort of baggage in my mind.
I have a strong set of ethics that has very little grey area, and I follow them scrupulously. I'm not trying to be arrogant, but I really do think that one of my strongest qualities is that I have a lot of integrity. This is good for people around me, and I'm happy about that, but I think that I get the most benefit from it. After all, I'm the one who gets to live in a mind that has almost no internal conflict or hypocrisy or temptation.
Sorry if this still isn't formatted correctly. We're working on it.
Photo is of my friend Toby, who's a friend with lots of integrity (like all of my good friends...)
For a couple days last week I didn't work. I woke up, walked to Casa, ate my lunch, sat with my friends until lunch hours ended, and then sat in the empty restaurant, staring out the window.
What do I want to do with my life? Not the whole thing, but right now.
Conversion Doubler isn't going to get off the ground. It turns out that too many people have bizarre unique requirements that reduce it's usefulness. The book is going okay, but at the end of the day I hate marketing and don't want to spend my time doing it.
I used to visit the coffee shop on 24th street, everyday for my normal dosage of caffeine. It started when I was sixteen, working a retail job at Old Navy on 68th street. Normally, I'd catch the train from Long Island, and then get off and walk the rest of the way. There was this African-American guy that would always sit in the coffee shop with his notebook and small dollar cup of coffee.
There wasn't a day that I wouldn't catch him sitting in the same old spot, cornered at the very last table to the back of the coffee shop by the window. On my sick days to work, he'd be in here drinking nothing but that coffee. There may have been once when I saw him with a bottle of water and a croissant.
I was having a bad day one of my days off, so I decided to leave home and take the train to sit in the coffee shop. It wasn't anything significant, but a quiet environment with friendly people who sat at separate tables, either reading newspapers or drinking Lipton Green Tea. That day, there were no more seats so I asked the man who I'd always see writing, if I could have a seat.
"Umm, Hello." I said.