I was 17 years old on the richest day of my life.
I worked downtown at the Lindell AC, America’s first sports bar, and it was the first time I worked a full 40 hour shift as a short order cook. That meant a check for $80. After taxes my take home came to $68.67.
My family always taught me to cash my check at a bank and to place at least half in savings. I did not do that on the richest day of my life. I cashed the check at the bar. The waitresses included me in their tips, which they didn’t normally do. I got an extra $10 which meant I walked to the bus stop for my ride home with $78.67.
I felt like Donald Trump that day although I’m certain I didn’t know who he was at the time.
As I took the Grand River bus from downtown home it dawned on me why my family told me to cash my check at the bank. I had to carry my $78.67 past the thugs and thieves that hung out at the corner store.
As soon as I stepped off the bus I swore someone announced I had $78.67 in my pocket. I felt eyes staring at me. Blue strobe lights began to shine on me. Men put down their beer bottles, waiting for the opportunity to swipe my $78.67.
Of course they didn’t. It was my imagination going wild again. I walked past the men and then I felt like I was being followed. I was. This dude I named Snatch, because after he robbed you he displayed sprinter’s speed during his getaway, followed me with his hands in his pocket. It usually meant he had a gun. This dude had robbed me before. And I knew he was going to do it again because my $78.67 was glowing in my pocket.
“You got anything for me today, young blood,?” he said.
“Nope,” I said. “I am broke as usual.”
“You better not be holding out on me,” he said. “Or I will shoot your ass.”
Now fear turned to panic. Not only was I going to get robbed on the richest day of my life. Now I was gonna get shot too. This sucked.
I took my chances and would never admit I had mad cash dangling in my pockets. I stared at Snatch. He stared at me with his hands in his pocket. This is where you que the dramatic music. Then he removed his hand from his pocket, cursed at me, and went back to the street corner.
I also reminded him that the King of the Corner, the neighborhood drug lord said I was off limits. He took an interest in me and told the thugs not to rob me.
Snatch stormed off
“I’m not dealing with your broke ass,” he said.
I was free and sprinted the rest of the way home. I finally made it home, gave grand mom a kiss and slipped her some money to help with groceries. Then I went to my bedroom, closed the door, and counted my money over and over again.
I’d go on in life and get better jobs. I even had a career in journalism with much bigger paychecks. But that day felt special. It felt like the richest day of my life. I earned that money. It was not given to me. And then I navigated through the sharks and thugs who wanted to take it all away.
Now I know what a millionaire feels like.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: