I Screwed Up

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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.

(Gratuitous “pamela anderson while drunk” photo)

Because I broke all my rules for myself. And as Bill Clinton said, “because I could.”

What happened:

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.

(Claudia holding my “official papers”)

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.”

(Doctor Who has psychic papers that gets him in everywhere)

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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  • http://twitter.com/raitens Rait Ojasaar

    For a moment I thought I was reading Chuck Palahniuk’s novel…

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.stein10 Matt Stein

    Thank you for your honesty. It is awesome that you are willing to share this experience with your audience. We have all been there before and done things we aren’t proud of or that we later regret. By being open to share this with others, you can receive support from the people in your life who care about you. Otherwise you end up kicking yourself over it and that is never fun. 

  • http://twitter.com/rorwhy Rory O’Rourke

    You should use Uber, it makes the whole cabbie thing relaxing and enjoyable. (I have no affiliation with them, I just love their service.)

  • Shaqir Hussyin

    LOL!!!! this was an awesome, hilarious post man!

  • http://www.preemptiveplacebo.com Preemptive Placebo

    This is not an easy call. 

    The person who stands there quietly seething as others steal their cab ends up with a tumor in their thorax (wherever that is) because they get filled with burning, bubbling bile that turns their insides into cancer.  I’m all for spewing it out. 

    Only you’ve got to be cautious not to spew too much or you’ll be drinking from the Big-Gulp of guilt, which is a whole other cup of bile.

  • John Lloyd

    OK James I’m confused, did you really sleep with 3 hookers, or was it a metaphor, trying you say you felt the same sense of shame for being anal about having to feed your ego by going on the TV show, as you would of if you had actually snorted some blow, banged 3 hookers in  a cocaine fuelled fuck fest, then gone back for one more.

    Please excuse my stupidity James, I am a bit drunk as I read and now write, but still it is a  fascinating comparison if true, but maybe its my over active imagination.

    Keep up the good work sir, you searing honesty is indeed refreshing.

    John.

    Liverpool  UK

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       totally no hookers. And I don’t drink at all. that was just metaphor.

      • John Lloyd

        Cool. I really enjoy your writing James.

        John

  • nadcrush

    Replace “off” with intuition and your ability to assess situations quickly with great accuracy as I do based on years of experience with many cultures as you say you knew to zoom in on his dialect and proceed from there to intimidate by assuming rightly he had a green card.

    These are things you know from training. I know just walking around with a sheet of paper and perhaps appearing to taking assessment of things gets you noticed, distracts others for a moment into thinking you have more rights to be there then they do.

    I found this out in a short stint with an insurance company the manager i went out with on an appt would hold up an official letterhead and walk right in as the owner stuck his nose in it we were already comfy in the living room.

    A WWII death camp survivor claimed the most precious contraband was a compass and carbon paper to make official seals and walk out even with striped prison garb still one.

    But back to my assertions backing up your intuitive actions is a take from experienced French detectives approach while investigating crime scene ” everyone is guilty” and in fact if you think real deep and hard this is always the truth.

    The truth is islamic jihad is moving in here in droves. They are laughing and having great fun in their natural encoded language bragging about dead and soon to be dead Americans soon as they are notified of next wave.  For the most part that’s what’s going on in the cabs and walmarts of this country – loudmouth obnoxious often drunk enjoying our freedoms pre ordained them so that they may trample ours in return.

    Just as you know to workaround the paper chase mills, so do they. 

    I was mocked about any potential Iranian counter attack here if we or Israel does same over there with the gibe i took that they possess nuclear war heads, to which I responded it only took box knives to take the twin towers down.

    Sorry for the long and perhaps inappropriate place for a screed, but two things are at play here:

    1) Listen closer next time to you intuition and try testing it out again for fun to see if those two-islamic driver and passenger are raving on about dead U.S. G.I.s- the test being you fake knowing arabic and what they are saying. See how they react.

    and

    2) Lastly because we can never predict the future means no one is even considering this angle. I only give it weight due to the above but only keep it on watch as an expectation.

    • hdee

      A couple rebuttals to your ridiculous assertions…

      “But back to my assertions backing up your intuitive actions is a take from experienced French detectives approach while investigating crime scene ” everyone is guilty” and in fact if you think real deep and hard this is always the truth.”

      In these United States we believe in “innocent until proven guilty” so keep your pansy french crap out of here. I’d rather have 99 criminals go free than 1 innocent person incarcerated.

      “The truth is islamic jihad is moving in here in droves. They are laughing and having great fun in their natural encoded language bragging about dead and soon to be dead Americans soon as they are notified of next wave.”

      Maybe if we weren’t “fighting them over there” we’d have enough resources to protect our borders over here. I have no idea how you came up with that idea though… it’s 2012 now … lets stop the knee jerk reactions and stop pretending there’s a terrorist around every corner and under every bed.

      “1) Listen closer next time to you intuition and try testing it out again for fun to see if those two-islamic driver and passenger are raving on about dead U.S. G.I.s- the test being you fake knowing arabic and what they are saying. See how they react.”

      Your unfathomable bias is showing, the ethnicity of the passenger was never revealed and James clearly said the cab driver had a Russian accent.

      I usually don’t play the part of internet warrior but seeing a comment as ignorant as yours on this blog is appalling.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vincent-Porras/100003238892527 Vincent Porras

        Nadcrush definitely should be evaluated, if he has not been already. I’m a tangential thinker, but the woman living in the tent in front of the local Albertson’s would be like, “WTF is this guy on?”

  • http://ibankcoin.com/ Jeremy

    “Once you are “off”, even more things get off-kilter.”

    I’ve noticed that there’s definitely a snowball effect. I try practice your Daily Routine as best I can, and I find that getting out of bed on time is the hardest (and most important) part. If I start the day off on the wrong foot by sleeping in, it’s all-too-easy to skip exercising, being thankful, etc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732244537 Priscilla Paredes Wood

    One way to be kind to ourselves is to have the ability to say no. It takes a lot of courage to say no and I fall for this too often, I’m a people pleaser and have yes/no messed up in my head. I’m gonna practice no more often.

    • Anonymous

      So true.  I am also a conflict avoider and so saying “yes” is my way of avoiding conflict.

      I am also quite shy; I could have never pulled off the stunt James did with the cabbie.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732244537 Priscilla Paredes Wood

        Interesting because I can be shy at times however, if I think someone is taking advantage of me like i.e cutting in line then shyness goes away and I become a huge ash*le…oh boy not proud of admitting this but I can relate to what James did, I would have probably done the same thing. :( :(

        • Anonymous

          Haha.. I second to that.

        • Anonymous

          I just cant seem to do it.  I always just want to get on with my life.  My wife though is great at speaking up to the rude people.  BTW, if you havent read “I see rude people” check it out, you would really relate to it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nils.meyer3 Nils Meyer

    You are right, you shouldn’t do things you don’t want to. I don’t want to brush my teeth in the morning. I’ll not do it from now and my life shall improve ;)

  • Statspotting
    • Anonymous

      Nice try, splatspotting.

  • Maggie

    Sometimes when you venture out into the world you can’t say “no” even when you want to say “yes”. I mean some of us try so hard to be reasonable in the face of the opposite of reasonable.

    I have a terrible pain in my back this week. It started several days before I resorted to calling a doctor. I called the Physiatrist but because I haven’t needed his services within the past 18 months, I was informed that the appointment that they told me that they had available the next day was now not for me. “Sorry”, they said, “Office Policy.” The doctor needed more time with me. Oh, you mean more than the four minutes he usually spends with me?  They had a time slot, but my pain wasn’t chronic just acute. Merely acute pain. I had to wait 10 days in pain before I could see the doctor. I made the appointment anyway.

    When they call to verify the appointment, I’m looking forward to telling them,  “Oh, she died from an overdose. You know, from self-medicating. It’s too bad the doctor couldn’t see her sooner because there are other treatment alternatives to medication that he could have employed. Aren’t there?” 

    What do you think? I would love to make unreasonable my new policy.

  • Corinne Loskot

    You are a reality show waiting to happen.  Now tell us about that outrageous impulse you could control.

  • Guest

    My move is to come out of grand central and immediately cross the street.  Then i hail a cab going the other way.  That way no one on line really notices what’s going on.  And you might say, that guy’s a douche, or that’s not fair.  But it’s not about fair.  It’s about how much I friggin hate waiting on lines.  Trust me, it’s better for the universe if I don’t wait on the line (i will be less frustrated going into the rest of my day).  And you might say, well then you should learn to be more patient.  And you would be right.

    • Anonymous

      Same here.  One time I was in Vegas with some friends and we waited and waited in the proper cab line, only to be told we had to wait for one of those taxi vans cause there were 4 of us.

      I said F-this and walked away to try to hail my own cab.  Sure enough, one of those unlicensed cabs offers me a ride.  The guy had a Lincoln town car and said one of us could ride up front with him.  Not only that, his price was 1/2 what the cabs charge!

      He gave me his cell number and for the rest of my stay it was like having my own Limo driver!  No more waiting in those dreadful lines.

      The driver was a college student, he had his books up front and would study during slow times. 

  • Anonymous

    Scaring immigrants like a crazy racist! That’s soooo Jim.

  • Gonzalo Gandia

    James, it looks like you had a Michael Douglas moment from the movie Falling Down…you snapped, dude. But that’s ok, everyone needs to blow off some steam every now and then!

  • http://www.theresilientfamily.com/ theresilientfamily

    You’re freakin’ nuts! This had me rolling, but only because I’ve done the same sort of chicken shit nonsense in the past. I always instantly regret it and feel like the world’s biggest A-hole, but once the neurons start firing and the brain farting, it’s almost impossible to pull yourself out of the nosedive. It’s human… Feel regret, apologize, try to do better, forgive yourself and move on.

  • http://lascenester.com/ Jojo

    No blog post would have or has been better than this.
    Total classic!!

  • Anonymous

    Time for that Vision Quest in the jungle, James. You got cityitis. 

  • Dave

    Wow. I totally learned a new trick. 

    Damn. I should update my passport.

    • Anonymous

      I think an old passport would work just as well, lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Connor/100000284561197 Peter Connor

    So I should carry my passport everywhere from now on. Thanks, James!

  • http://twitter.com/PrimalProblems PrimalProblems

    Caveman approved move #PrimalProblems

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732244537 Priscilla Paredes Wood

    Also the question is why were you carrying your passport in the city?

  • sfmitch

    Do you not like Warren Buffet’s annual letter to shareholders?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amy-Collins/675557759 Amy Collins

    James,  I love this story. I love that you brought back a crazy postal sort of moment in your life (one I think all NYers have had) to the importance of maintaining sanity and how going against one’s natural grain will inevitably evoke INsanity. Reminds me of a post I wrote a while ago about a similar crazy-person experience I had with a NYC cab driver. Yes, I was the crazy person. 
    http://www.amyccollins.com/2011/03/a-small-gift-of-sanity.html

    Cheers & thank you for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    Using a passport to fight for a cab. LOL  Is that what happen to people after working/living in gotham city?  It’s nuts,but it’s hilarious, almost like a scene out of a seinfeld episode.

    Anyway, don’t feel too bad James. If you can forgive others for their mistakes, then you can forgive yourself for your own mistakes. When we forgive others we forgive ourselves and vice versa (dunno where I got this, maybe from one of your old blog posts???).

  • Sooz

    How did you get back to Grand Central after your gig?
    What would you have done if the same cabbie was parked outside the building as you exited?

    Darn it all..just listen to Claudia next time.

  • http://www.howardlindzon.com howardlindzon

    that was me in the cab…bastard

    • http://www.amintorres.com/blog/index.php aminTorres

      haha, you beat me, I was about to post the same comment and just read yours. :) 

    • Sooz

      too funny!!!

  • rollingdancefloor

    Maybe we should check your references. If you weren’t so honest, you could be a master con man.
    love.

  • Rod

    Friggin awesome tale James. Love it.

  • http://twitter.com/PurviRajani Purvi Rajani

    I wish you had a reality show. It could be like the Larry David show but flashbacks between your college, HBO, hedge fund, start-up days and your blogging, yoga self now. At the en of every episode, they would show you writing about what you learned, Doogie Howeser style. I would watch that. 

  • Anonymous

    ”Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. Else there are consequences.”

    Very well said, James!! Listening to the inner voice and acting on intuition is something we, westerners, should all seek to learn (since it’s not taught to us by parents or the government). For the past 2-3 years I’ve tried to listen to my inner voice and only do things it says I should do. And I’m happier than ever before (or maybe I should say I’m not THAT miserable as I used to be?!). Sometimes I go weeks without having done something I really didn’t feel like doing. 

  • Anonymous

    Claudia was right.  It was a total waste of what could have been a good day.  And do you really think that the people who read Yahoo Finance will respect what you have to say?

    Judging by the advice you give here, your ideas are totally shocking to the people who read Yahoo Finance.  Those who think deeper about things have already found you, and others, on their own.

    • http://444express.blogspot.com/ the444

       What? – Wait a minute.  Are you insulting people who read Yahoo Finance, or the blog author?  I read Yahoo Finance (and a bunch of other financial pages, too.)  I am very interested in hearing what James has to say about investing and the market.  That’s what I do all day – follow the market.  What ideas are you assuming would be totally shocking?  *confused*

      • Anonymous

        I don’t see how my reply could in any way be construed as insulting to James.  

        But as to your second point, James talks about not going to college, not owning a house, and is optimistic about the economy.  Conventional wisdom tells us to go to school, buy the biggest house you can, and then go about and wait for the government to fix things like the economy.  This generally means being down on things, especially if your man isnt in the White House.

        I still say that most people who read Yahoo finance subscribe to conventional beliefs–but maybe I am wrong here and most people are deep thinkers like you. If so, I am happy to be wrong.  

        Now with that in mind, I will close on a positive note by saying Shabbat Shalom, peace to you and your family, and no matter what your beliefs are, I hope you celebrate the end of the week with those who are special to you.  

        • http://444express.blogspot.com/ the444

           I’m probably not such a deep thinker.  After all, I couldn’t discern exactly what you were trying to say.

          I’m not sure how James (or anyone) can be held responsible for confirming or refuting whatever conventional wisdom seems to be generally agreed-upon at any given point in time.  All he can do is opine, and I’ve always wondered why people get in such a lather over that (not accusing you of it, Otaddy, just speaking in generalities.)  Personally, I  enjoy reading the insights and opinions of others, especially if they diverge from “conventional wisdom,” because C.W. can be gleaned from every Smart Money magazine and every second person’s quoted grandmother.

  • Emigrant

    Holy moly, that was a very mean thing to do to someone! I’ve learned my lesson though, if yahoo finance ever ask me to do a segment, my answer will be a resounding negative.

  • http://twitter.com/kamalravikant Kamal Ravikant

    James, that is awesome.  First, impressed by your chutzpa (sp?), but moreso, the way you brought it around with how it started, and the ultimate lesson.  To say “no” when that is deep down the right thing.  

    I re-watched “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey again a few weeks ago.  Made me think that I should try the “yes” exercise (say yes to everything), but your post has added some fodder to that thought.  Perhaps a healthy mix.  Not sure where that is yet, though.

  • http://wagefreedom.com/ Tom

    James, all I can say is that Ellen Degeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart and Louis CK should be watching YOU on the train in.

  • Thomas Rippel

    Just because you are honest doesn’t make you any less of an asshole.
    I’m glad you know it.
    Just awful.

    • Guest

      You really think James is the only asshole in this situation?  I mean the guy who upstreamed him clearly didn’t have the most altruistic intentions.  Not saying what James did is any better, but in the dog-eat-dog mayhem of NYC, I would say that all’s fair in love and taxi hailing. 

    • Denis Elistratov

      I understand you.
      But I disagree.
      Life is full of compromises.

  • http://opally.blogspot.com Opal

    Actually, James, your misery is more helpful to others than your happiness. No, let me put that another way: your awareness of your misery, and your insight into it, is helpful. 

    Ahimsa starts with yourself. Do we think we have to submit to suffering? Is that what convinces us we have to do things that we despise?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Thanks Opal!

  • Lonewolf

    Very bad ass with the passport – but why do you carry a passport on you anyway?

    I heard they have taxi on demand in NYC now — maybe u can use it next time instead: http://www.uber.com

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I don’t have a drivers license so I carry a passport for ID. I’ll check out uber.com!

  • Rock

    Seriously, this almost made me a “former fan of James Altucher” but, as I should, I read the entire story. You’re brilliant. But, what you did was completely ridiculous and, I think, speaks to an inner privilege that quite honestly, disgusts me. This could have escalated and turned ugly; all for “disrespect” and 3 blocks.

    However, what makes you brilliant to me is the fact that you have the courage to speak honestly and openly about your experiences-where they come from and where they take you. No matter what I think, I applaud you (painfully on this one) for writing from the heart. 

    Aside from all of that, it is a great “morale of the story” story. Thanks 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Phew! You know, when I posted this i was worried there would be some “former fans” but I think its important to keep it real. My advice has worked for me. But it’s not like I can follow it 24 hours a day every day. Sometimes its hard. That’s why when I follow it, it works.

      • http://444express.blogspot.com/ the444

         Sure enough, that sounds like some out-of-control behavior, but don’t all of us have some examples we’d rather not detail publicly?  I know I do; most of my bad behavior is behind closed doors but occasionally I can be a monster in public.  Once I followed a pizza-delivery-youngster and parked (at the end of a dark cul-de-sac), got out of my car, scared her so that she probably peed her pants, and reprimanded her loudly for driving that way in my neighborhood.  Doesn’t sound so bad now that I type it out, but I bet she thought I was Ms. Psycho-Woman at the time.  (I threatened to call her boss, too, and I don’t remember if I did or not.)  I feel justified in having done that, by the way.  So I guess this was only a good example of acting out-of-usual-character.  I could come up with something truly embarrassing but I’m not that brave. ;o)

  • Joe Singer

    as we say in my company when we do something for a client just because they asked and we (the software experts) know it is wrong and we should not cater to them…..”no good deed goes unpunished”

  • Malcolm

    So how was the show?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      ok, not great but not my worst. 

  • Gonzalo Gandia

    “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone”

    I think all you haters out there should chill out! To get upset when an apparent injustice takes place is common to all of us. What did James do so wrong? He came up with a creative, non-violent solution to right a situation. Anyone who says they’ve never done it is lying. The reaction is “natural” to when we feel the system isn’t working or if someone is cheating it somehow. I probably wouldn’t have reacted that way, but it probably comes down to the fact that I don’t have the balls to do it. There are probably things I do sometimes that others wouldn’t do, but we are all a product of our own life experiences. Therefore, “solutions” are very much individualistic and unique in nature.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       It’s funny where self-help and finance intersect. i agree with you – many people pose as perfect but I have yet to meet a perfect person.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1541796519 Emily Parrish

        Hi. My name is Emily. Nice to meet you. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732244537 Priscilla Paredes Wood

      Sadly I have reacted that way and reading this post is actually an eye opener to the messes I create sometimes, to my defense I’ll say that I only do it when I feel people are taking advantage of “me” ugh! I have to let go of the “me” concept and all will be fine. But yes, you are right we all have done it in one way of another. I know I have.

    • Anonymous

      You need to think about this from the point of view of the cab driver.

      It was an asshole move, and no amount of “yea, I did something wrong” will correct it unless he does something to actually make it up to the poor man.

      Passing him a $20 isn’t enough.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

         Except…he did, in fact, stop in the wrong place. But I overreacted.

      • Gonzalo Gandia

        The taxi cab driver was not an innocent bystander. I’m a Canadian living in Chile now and one of the things I miss about North America is that, for the most part, customer service works up there. Down here, it’s a chaotic mess on most days. And it’s a killer “mentally”, causing undue stress to the citizens of its country. There’s an order to things when it comes to “first come, first serve” customer service. If people start doing what they want, then it becomes a free for all with no rules, and tension is created. Yes, James overreacted, and he’s already admitted it, hence the title of the post. But let’s not forget that the cab driver did not perform his job, and was the genesis of the problem.

        • Anonymous

          Uh.

          So a proper response for line cutting is to threaten someone with immigration officials?

          You have no f***ing idea about the amount of fear that puts into a typical US immigrant. It’s completely unwarranted and an overreaction as James himself noted.

          And, yes, I am an immigrant in the US. And, yes, I would’ve shat my pants if I was that cab driver and I would’ve been upset for weeks after the incident. You have no idea unless you’ve had to deal with the assholes at USCIS or whatever the hell it’s called these days. Depending on your immigration status they can have ABSOLUTE power on you.

          • Gonzalo Gandia

            Well, if what you get from what I wrote is that I condone that type of behavior, than you’re just reading what you want to read. As you might imagine by my name, I do have many immigrant friends in the USA and Canada. I am 1st generation Canadian; my parents are from Spain.

            As you can see by the tone of your last post, it’s easy to get very emotional about something and overreact, right? To assume that someone with the name GONZALO would have absolutely no idea about the types of issues that immigrants suffer in North America, than you’re assumptions would be wrong. Try being an immigrant in Canada. It’s a lot harder to get in there than in the USA. I know a few Chilean friends who were refused entry into Canada after the 11 hour plane ride and returned home on the next plane. It’s sad. And unfortunate.

            You’re probably a nice guy, and we’d probably get along great in real life. The point is not whether the end result was an overreaction (it was), but whether there was a chain of events that sometimes happen that make us do crazy things. We’ve all done it. We all get hot under the collar. I’m sure you have too. You can look at the minutiae of any bad event and consider them unfortunate variables to the story.

            Let’s do the right thing. A man has apologized for bad behavior and made it public. Let’s not keep crucifying him. We have better things to do.

          • Anonymous

            You still don’t get it.

            “A man has apologized for bad behavior and made it public.”

            He hasn’t apologized to the right person.

            It’s like punching someone in the face, then walking down the block and apologizing the next person walking by you.

            He scared the living daylights of that man in the worst possible way. He essentially threatened his livelihood, breaking up his family and his freedom. James might’ve not thought that way in the heat of the moment, but the cab driver sure did. I’m also sure he’s still afraid of what might happen to him because of the encounter. I would be. I would feel terrorized.

            I’m not trying to crucify anyone. I’m just totally flabbergasted at why everyone seems so cavalier about what he did.

          • Gonzalo Gandia

            I think it’s unfair to say James has to somehow track down an individual he’s never met before and apologize. If you read the majority of the comments to this post, nobody is being cavalier about what he did. MOST of the comments have to do with the admiration of posting something that 99% of us would never think of admitting publicly. Very few said “Way to go, James. That’s the kinda behavior we’d all love to emulate!”

            And one more point: I think you sorely underestimate the resilience of an immigrant. And an immigrant who drives a cab in NY!! Do you actually think this is the worst thing he’s seen in his life? The only way to get your reprimand accross is to have us buy into the story that this guy is in some sort of shell shock and he’s now in a depressive state for two or three weeks. This is simply a way to emotionally put some weight behind your rebuke of James’ action, by conjuring up images of some poor soul suffering because of one isolated daily event. Without the emotional images, your berating just comes off as hot air.

            I would like to think this guy reacted in a way many (granted, not all) of us would react in a similar situation. After the unpleasantness of the moment, he went on with his life realizing some nut was flashing his passport at him and was blowing off steam. He then went for a few drinks with his buddies and they all had a good laugh at this latest example of, working as a cabdriver, how insane people are. Hey, this story is just as plausible as yours, so don’t tell me I don’t somehow understand the snivelling psyche of a poor immigrant. Me thinks you’re not giving strong minded immigrants enough credit to differentiate between a moment of rash behavior and other moments that really do indicate they should be worried about our immigrant status.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with Gonzalo.  James built up the story and everyone fell for the bad guy self-portrayal as if James did something horrible.  He didn’t.  He crossed his own purposes and principles, yes.  I think James’s problem really started because he ignored Claudia’s advice but not her intuition.  He was then primed.  Where did his first wrong choice come in? By refusing to walk a little when he emerged from Grand Central Station.  He was nervous, knowing something wasn’t quite right (per Claudia’s intuition) and so he stopped using his own energy and became a little paralyzed.  He took the safe way, which was to get a cab.  We always depend on transport even though we can get almost anywhere in a city by walking. It just feels out of control to walk because you can´t speed anything up much. 

      And then some arbitrary rule-breaker  (so annoying when you have to live by rules) takes away that option and James turns on the full power to counteract his prior passivity.  He was creative, though.  I KNOW its better to walk and be peaceful, but its a bit like defensive driving – James trumped the rule-breaker by bending the rules in an unexpected way.By the way, if you are Gonzalo from Chile I am going to have a fit laughing! Now you know where you hang out on the web for your ideas about education!!

      • Gonzalo Gandia

        Robin, from Toastmasters Santiago?? That’s really funny!!

        Yeah, James’ blog is one I’ve been reading for a year now…it’s a good one! I don’t agree with everything he says about education, but at least he’s on the right path!!

        What a small, small world…

  • http://twitter.com/fzeng96 Feng

    Anger is a bitch. You never know when its going to snick up on you.

    Every action has consequences. You are only responsible for your own actions. In this case, you probably made yourself feel like a hypocrite. That’s OK man.  You made a mistake. Move on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/minic Dominic Rivera

    It’s okay. At least you did not identify yourself as member of the NYPD while flashing your passport :)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Yes, that would’ve been REALLY illegal. Like Jail illegal.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732244537 Priscilla Paredes Wood

        Now my question is why do you carry your passport in the city? I guess NY doesn’t believe in issuing plastic IDs to its residents? ha!

  • MetroNorth

    There is no 4:20 metro north train …

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Actually: 4:40 fr Cold Spring. typo

  • http://444express.blogspot.com/ the444

    I sort of want to know what you said at the NASDAQ.

  • Rlg

    Wow. Truly horrible story.. But I agree with Purvi, you should totally have an HBO/SHO/whoever show…!

  • Sackerson

    Or toxicab, seems like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732244537 Priscilla Paredes Wood

    This post has the most comments out of your last 16 posts. We all want to see people fail, screw up and in shame, it’s our human nature, kind of a morbid twisted fascination.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Wow, you are right. That’s interesting.

      • Screwtape

        Schadenfreude.

  • Carly

    Thank you for writing this. It is well said on all accounts. There absolutely is a karmic correlation between saying yes when you mean no, and the downward spiral that follows. I just hadn’t recognized the pattern so clearly.

  • KB

    ouch.  You were stressed out from the moment you said yes to the commitment, and it hit a head at the cab stand.  

  • http://www.shortcutblogging.com/ Dave Young

    Do you have any idea who I think I am? Do you?

  • http://twitter.com/UptheMtn Discovery

    I still think ou need more fiber in your diet Jimmy

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QAQZQ63L26FNAGYSOUBIL6XXIQ kjp712

    A lot can happen in three city blocks.You made the right move.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1541796519 Emily Parrish

    Well, I haven’t ever screwed up, personally, but I know lots of people who have and most of them didn’t turn out to be total sociopaths. (Some are a smidge sociopathic, but not totally). I think I can assuage your guilt by shedding some light on something that most people just don’t know. Cocaine can, on occasion, make one a bit agitated and edgy. Fascinating, right? I must be blowing everyones minds right now with this revelation. Did I say blow? That was a bit on-the-nose, sorry.

    This narcotic can also cause a rare side effect of delusional thinking (medical experts refer to it as charliesheenitis or “the sheening.”) He thought he was winning, you thought you were kevin costner in water world without the water and stuff- all bad ideas coming from delusions of grandiosity and entitlement. It happens. “The Sheening” is terrifying indeed. I was relieved to hear that no alcohol was involved, because if you add REDRUM to this equation, you would have instantly morphed into Lindsay Lohan and NOBODY wants that!

    Okay, now I will attempt to be serious, contemplative, introspective and stuff (which could turn out to be funnier). I am not a judge, even though I play one in my daily interactions, to my chagrin. I won’t scold you, but I will say that I was blown away by how creative your deviousness was to come up with that on-the-fly. I believe there were equal parts of brilliance and eeeevil in that situation and I am so happy you have chosen to use your powers for good on most occasions. Whew!

    Though I have never posed as a federal agent, I have done some pretty entitled and yucky things that I normally don’t post on my Facebook status. However since you have made yourself vulnerable, I will reciprocate. So, I will give you a taste of what my Facebook wall would look like if those updates did end up on my Facebook page; if I showed my true face without makeup…in on of those terrifying magnifying mirrors. The humanity! Here goes:

    “Don’t you hate when there is no parking anywhere at the grocery store? Especially if it is raining! Thats why every now and then I just pull up to the curb in front of the store by the ATM machine and park there with my blinkers on. I mean, it’s raining and I just spent way too much money on these heels to defile them for the sake of some kind of social norm obedience.”

    “Zones, shmones I say! Sometimes I need to board the airplane before my zone has been called. I mean, look at my carry-on! It is so much bigger and they are going to make me check it if it gets too full for my behemoth. Then I would have to wait for my luggage, and my time is much more valuable than yours. Duh!”

    “I love to bitch about people–it is a gooood time, baby! I mean, there are so many inconsiderate people in this world! The fact that you can count on me being a solid 10 minutes late to everything is beside the point…at least I don’t say “supposebly.”

    Okay, this is your blog not mine, sorry. But, then again, what I have to say is that freaking important! Windbaggery is a lost art. Haha! I love your writing; I admit there was a little part of me that felt a touch better about my not-so-attractive behavior–but it was fleeting, sadly. Maybe I have reciprocated this feeling back to you, which is only fair. 

    I feel that personal responsibility should somehow be incorporated into a breakfast food. When others are brave enough to man-up, it makes it much less scary to do the same. As you said in your article about dealing with crappy people, no one loves the perfect guy with the perfect life. It makes us feel that much more imperfect. If they all just wore a t-shirt confessing their alcoholism, 3 mistresses and toe-fungus issues, I think it would make for a more peaceful world   (not so much for the spouses, but the greater good is more important, don’t you think?)

    Thanks for your indulgence. In the style of the great Ryan Seacrest, I say “Windbagger-OUT.” 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1541796519 Emily Parrish

    Well, I haven’t ever screwed up, personally, but I know lots of people who have and most of them didn’t turn out to be total sociopaths. (Some are a smidge sociopathic, but not totally). I think I can assuage your guilt by shedding some light on something that most people just don’t know. Cocaine can, on occasion, make one a bit agitated and edgy. Fascinating, right? I must be blowing everyones minds right now with this revelation. Did I say blow? That was a bit on-the-nose, sorry.

    This narcotic can also cause a rare side effect of delusional thinking (medical experts refer to it as charliesheenitis or “the sheening.”) He thought he was winning, you thought you were kevin costner in water world without the water and stuff- all bad ideas coming from delusions of grandiosity and entitlement. It happens. “The Sheening” is terrifying indeed. I was relieved to hear that no alcohol was involved, because if you add REDRUM to this equation, you would have instantly morphed into Lindsay Lohan and NOBODY wants that!

    Okay, now I will attempt to be serious, contemplative, introspective and stuff (which could turn out to be funnier). I am not a judge, even though I play one in my daily interactions, to my chagrin. I won’t scold you, but I will say that I was blown away by how creative your deviousness was to come up with that on-the-fly. I believe there were equal parts of brilliance and eeeevil in that situation and I am so happy you have chosen to use your powers for good on most occasions. Whew!

    Though I have never posed as a federal agent, I have done some pretty entitled and yucky things that I normally don’t post on my Facebook status. However since you have made yourself vulnerable, I will reciprocate. So, I will give you a taste of what my Facebook wall would look like if those updates did end up on my Facebook page; if I showed my true face without makeup…in on of those terrifying magnifying mirrors. The humanity! Here goes:

    “Don’t you hate when there is no parking anywhere at the grocery store? Especially if it is raining! Thats why every now and then I just pull up to the curb in front of the store by the ATM machine and park there with my blinkers on. I mean, it’s raining and I just spent way too much money on these heels to defile them for the sake of some kind of social norm obedience.”

    “Zones, shmones I say! Sometimes I need to board the airplane before my zone has been called. I mean, look at my carry-on! It is so much bigger and they are going to make me check it if it gets too full for my behemoth. Then I would have to wait for my luggage, and my time is much more valuable than yours. Duh!”

    “I love to bitch about people–it is a gooood time, baby! I mean, there are so many inconsiderate people in this world! The fact that you can count on me being a solid 10 minutes late to everything is beside the point…at least I don’t say “supposebly.”

    Okay, this is your blog not mine, sorry. But, then again, what I have to say is that freaking important! Windbaggery is a lost art. Haha! I love your writing; I admit there was a little part of me that felt a touch better about my not-so-attractive behavior–but it was fleeting, sadly. Maybe I have reciprocated this feeling back to you, which is only fair. 

    I feel that personal responsibility should somehow be incorporated into a breakfast food. When others are brave enough to man-up, it makes it much less scary to do the same. As you said in your article about dealing with crappy people, no one loves the perfect guy with the perfect life. It makes us feel that much more imperfect. If they all just wore a t-shirt confessing their alcoholism, 3 mistresses and toe-fungus issues, I think it would make for a more peaceful world   (not so much for the spouses, but the greater good is more important, don’t you think?)

    Thanks for your indulgence. In the style of the great Ryan Seacrest, I say “Windbagger-OUT.” 

  • http://twitter.com/jfkesq John Kennedy

    So true how everything goes askew when you are in (or allow yourself to be placed in ) that alternate universe.

  • Jschreifels

    We all do stupid things.  Few of us are willing to talk about it.  James, it’s one of the first steps leading into the second half of life…letting go your ego.  IF you were following your daily practice of meditation, you might have not “gone crazy” about the cab.  At least you’re on a journey, most people never move beyond their own ego desires.

  • Sharma

    Every time I throw a penny at one of the several homeless beggars on St Paul street, I amuse myself about how you guys still think you are the “first world”.

  • http://twitter.com/klausphotos Ben Klaus

    James have you read “Leadership and Self-Deception”? Your realization that this all stemmed from saying yes when you should have said no reminded me of the book. I really enjoyed it and its an easy read.  http://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Self-Deception-Getting-out-Box/dp/1576759776

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Ben, thanks for the recommendation. Sounds interesting and I’ll check it out.

  • Chimera Swa

    why were u carrying ur passport ? 

  • Jeremy Davis

    I love this
    post, James!  First, it explains so much
    (about why a certain financial journalist hasn’t heard from you in a while)!

    Second, the
    world is ugly, and we all mess up and hurt other people sometimes.  Anyone who is getting preachy at James because
    of this post isn’t being honest with themselves about their own background.

    Third, even
    when we get better, we sometimes backslide…

    I used to sleep
    four hours every night because I was stuck in my version of “the Internet loop.”  I finally figured out how to quit that, and
    my whole world has changed. But sometimes, I still mess up, and my wife and
    kids suffer the next day when I stumble around in a zombie trance.

  • AJ

    Shamed.

    Repented.Done.

  • tg p

    Dude. His name is “The Doctor”.

  • http://twitter.com/EntreprenKorner EntrepreneursKorner

    Joseph Kony 2012 – Raise Awareness!

    http://www.Kony-2012.com

  • http://isomorphismes.tumblr.com isomorphisms

    James, please blur out your ID numbers on that passport photo! Here I just did it for you: http://i.minus.com/dtnNakXUzPXuG.png

  • Laura G.

    I’m not a fan of talk shows, but I heard Sheryl Underwood on television talking about her husband who committed suicide. She said she tries to treat everyone she comes into contact with as if it is his/her last day on Earth, because you never know what could push someone over the edge.

    I think her sentiment is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard and I think about it often. I try to implement it– sometimes it’s hard, but sometimes it’s not.

    I definitely struggle with being patient with people, especially my closest loved-ones. I’m well-aware of how I’m behaving, but sometimes I just act out of emotion anyway.