I Screwed Up
- Posted by James Altucher
You know how you feel after you’ve drunk 12 shots of tequila, then you snorted some cocaine, then you screwed three hookers and you still felt lonely so you went for one more and then drank some more and then finally passed out and then you woke up in the morning with vomit everywhere not to mention a headache, a stomachache, and you don’t even know where you are.
Well, that’s how I felt the other day at 5:50am.
Because I broke all my rules for myself. And as Bill Clinton said, “because I could.”
I got into New York City at 6am after an hour and a half train ride. The entire train ride I watched Ellen Degeneres, old Jerry Seinfeld standups, Jon Stewart standups, Louis CK, etc.
Why all the comedians? Because I was going to go on Yahoo Finance to explain to people the intricate workings of the world economy. Claudia begged me not to go. “They are no good for you,” she said, “the comments are always from angry people and you hate it.” She’s always right. Every single time. But I had some way of rationalizing it to myself. “I made a commitment,” I said. Sort of like something Clark Kent would say to Lois when he had to skip dinner so he could save the universe.
So I woke up at 3am, read Warren Buffett’s boring letter to shareholders, and took the 4:20am train in.
So after all my Buffett and economy prep work I decided I needed to be funny so I spent the rest of my time preparing by watching standup comedy.
I get in and its 5:50am, still dark, and I’m standing at the ONLY LEGAL spot outside of Grand Central where you can stand if you want a taxi to stop. It’s specifically marked “Taxi Stand” and taxis are not allowed to stop anywhere else.
This is totally a first world problem. Please ignore if you are from the slums of Mumbai.
So then, guess what?
A taxicab stopped 50 feet before the taxi stand and picked someone else up coming out of Grand Central instead of me. This is totally wrong, I thought. I was first in line!
Nobody seemed to understand that if I didn’t get over to the Nasdaq to talk to Yahoo Finance in time then the world would be a worse place. Not only that, but this taxi was breaking the law. I think they were breaking the law. At the very least, they were breaking Grand Central protocol.
So, I broke all my rules. I broke everything. I broke my heart.
I stood out in the middle of 42nd Street and would not let the cab pass. I stood right in front of him, shook my head, held my arm out and forced him to stop. Then when he stopped I went over to the cab driver’s door and opened it up. I pulled out my passport (it was dark) so it looked like official documentation and opened up to the page with my photo on it. In other words, I took out a completely irrelevant document and showed some random cab driver my photo.
“You need to tell that passenger to get out right now,” I said and I pointed in the back at the passenger who had just gotten on, taking the place that was rightfully mine in the cab. The passenger instantly locked all the doors in the back.
The cab driver’s eyes were popping out. He was scared. “I don’t understand,” he said in a heavy accent that sounded Russian.
“Look at that taxi stand,” I said and I pointed. I was still showing him my picture and holding it up in that official way, sort of the way Doctor Who does it. “That is the ONLY legal spot to pick up passengers. You need to, this very second, tell your passenger to leave the car.”
“I don’t understand,” he said. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”
His accent gave him away. “Let me see your passport and green card immediately,” I said. I was holding open his door. Cars were passing around us. There was a police car right around the corner. Everything I was doing was now illegal. The driver was holding up his arms like he was guilty and I had a gun.
“I said, ‘let me see your passport’. You picked up a passenger illegally. Do you want to take ANY chance at all on who I might be or do you want to drive away with this passenger right now when I know exactly who you are. Let me see your passport and green card immediately.” There was a tense moment. I looked over at his taxi number at top to emphasize how I knew who he was. Everyone was silent. Nobody knew what to do. I kept my passport open but moved it around a bit so nobody could make it out. It was still dark outside.
“Fuck this,” the passenger in the back said. He unlocked the door. He got out.
I got in. “I’m sorry,” the driver turned and said to me, “there’s no sign there. I didn’t know.”
And he was scared. And now I feel really bad. He’s in his 50s. He has a wife and 12 children to feed. I’m supposed to follow my own advice. To not get unreasonably angry. To be honest. And now I was in a nice car, compared to cars just about everywhere else in the world, and for $4 I was going to get to go where I wanted. Which was about 3 blocks away. I didn’t feel like walking. What a pig I am. I wasn’t respectful of this guy. He probably has 3 PhDs, one in chemistry, the other in biology, and the other in clinical pharmacology. He probably invented a cure for cancer.
“It’s ok,” I told him. “I just want to go to 44th street and 6th Avenue.” Just so you know: we were at 42nd Street already. Like I said, I just didn’t feel like walking.
When he dropped me off I gave him twenty dollars. Another first world issue: I could pay off his fear.
Because I agreed to do something (Yahoo Finance video) I didn’t really want to do I was “off”. Once you are “off”, even more things get off-kilter. The neurons are loose. I was angry at myself. So then I was angry at someone who totally didn’t deserve it. I manipulated a situation. I enforced some artificial protocol that probably nobody follows anyway. I prevented the other passenger from getting to his destination, which was probably Sloane-Kettering where his son was dying of leukemia.
Claudia was right. I should’ve said “no”. When you say “yes” to things that deep down are “no”s then everything starts to go askew until you finally end up in an alternative universe where you’re playing Eddie Murphy in a cop movie.
Meanwhile, I could’ve had pancakes at home, I could’ve written a blog post that actually helped people and I could’ve spent the morning happy instead of miserable.
Choices in life add up. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. Else there are consequences. Meanwhile, I got to the Nasdaq in the taxicab. Which was good because it gave me more time to prepare. I was 90 minutes early.
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