Back Talk: Life Is More Than ‘Get Them Fat Stacks’

I started talking with a customer the other day at work. He was looking for something in the store, not sure if we had it, he may have got something else. I was in the middle of something, not in the mood to make small talk. But we started to chat.

We kind of butted heads at first, I had some other things to do, he had some real questions, and he may have been looking to talk a little as well. We’ve been understaffed lately, so it can be difficult sometimes to talk with customers. This man seemed kind of lonely, just a little … maybe his wife had passed away. I don’t know.

He told me he was 90. He looked no more than 75. He looked as if he could still work and get things done, give the young bloods one last run for their money. He claimed to have known my grandfather. I believed him, he seemed honest. I had no reason to doubt him. Not bragging in anyway he said he had done well for himself, became a millionaire. Just another part to his story.

Money can measure success to a certain point. It equates to improving yourself and trying new things, getting to that next place of where you want to be. At the end I guess, money could be the icing on the cake. But it’s not the cake by any means. And to make a cake, any good cook knows, you’ve got to break some eggs.

He said he had worked a lot of different jobs throughout the years. Wore a lot of different hats. He was what I would call a blue-collar business man, type-A (but lowkey), possibly borderline workaholic. Who knows. I don’t think my words do him much justice. We only talked for a little bit, but it was surprisingly refreshing.

While he was running through all the things he had done over the years; I suddenly felt compelled to ask him. “Out of all the jobs or things you did throughout your life, what did you like doing the best?”

He paused, cataloging in his head a half century of time passed. I noticed him thinking pretty hard. I wasn’t trying to stump him, I just wanted to know.

So I rephrased the question. “What was something you really enjoyed out of everything you did?”

He quietly but confidently quipped “I liked the challenge. I liked the challenge of it. I like doing something that’s difficult. Something that people said couldn’t be done. Or couldn’t be done a certain way, and then I would go and do it.”

I was kind of taken aback. I had never looked at it that way. I thought he would have said the money. Or the lifestyle … or something specific about a job, a physical skill/process that was enjoyable. What he said is lost today. It really is.

No one wants to work for anything anymore. No one wants to read a book, go into a store, chat up a stranger, climb a mountain … stand up for what they believe in. We are moving too fast and everyone now craves speed and convenience over adventure and human connection.

So, as most youth today would probably say “get them fat stacks;” So, well now you have some money. It’s still only a tool. What are you going to do with it? And if you have no motivation or inner will that drives you … nothing that’s pushing you to do something, it’s a hollow act.

It’s not that money doesn’t buy happiness it’s that money alone and the pursuit of it is too enough. It’s too vague. It doesn’t show who you are.

What is that idea you are willing to go after day in and day out. What do you want to show the world? What do you want to experience?

It’s about moving forward. And getting to a place where you feel like you earned it. No one did it for you. No one gave it to you, you didn’t win it, you didn’t outsmart the system, you went after something and got it. And that cannot be faked. It cannot be counterfeited. It’s authentic and we all see it … if we look closely.

It’s unspoken. You can hear it in someone’s voice, the way someone carries themselves. We just don’t notice this anymore, because we are moving too fast, too many distractions. Earning lots of money doesn’t move people, though it might get some oohs and ahhs from the crowd. But it’s doesn’t carry the same weight of someone who knows what they want, believes in it 100 percent, and goes after it. And then finally they share it.

Someone once told me, no one cares that you make a lot of money, or that you worked hard, even that you suffered. It doesn’t matter. They only care about one thing: How you make them feel. And first, to do that, you have to move yourself.

Author: Chris Tucker, Of Holyoke

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