Thursday, November 18, 2010

Post-A-Day: Gil (Four)

(What's this post all about? See where I started off here)


Dear Mr. Malhotra:

Congratulations you on your recent winnings! We here at CityLiving Real Estate would be more than happy to assist you in your search for a new home to accommodate your new life. We have a number of apartments all over the Manhattan area that we think would be perfect for you - and yes, we'll be sure they all have French maid service and clawfoot bathtubs! Please give a call as soon as you're ready to set up some appointments.

Jill Clement
Licensed Realtor
CityLiving Real Estate

"Uh, how much longer is it going to take for my drink? I had the salted caramel hot chocolate."

While Amir was extra sensitive to the behavior of those around him, he was quickly starting to realize he needed to check in with his own behavior every now and again. Minutes earlier, inside a Starbucks in the West Village, he found himself tempted to offer a homeless person he saw on the way in $50 to wait on the line for him, which was exceptionally long for this time of day. Just after that he wanted to offer $100 to the woman on the phone who had no idea what she wanted once she got to the cashier, just to never come back to that Starbucks ever again.

He always dismissed these thoughts quickly - actually doing them was clearly ridiculous, and would probably do more harm than good in the long run. But he couldn't help but think them now, because he actually used to think in those terms even before he won the lottery.

Back before he quit, Amir would take a few minutes every now and again during the work day to calculate his value per minute, "vpm." He took his biweekly paycheck, and calculated how much he was being paid per day, per hour, per minute. Then that number, ($0.53/minute the last time he checked) became in his head the conversion rate of a sort of clock ATM, a machine he visualized that dispensed cash but would advance forward every time it did. He had successfully turned the phrase "time is money" into an actual fully realized device.

From there he factored in all the costs he had over the course of the day. He was able to figure out how many minutes of his life a sandwich at Pret-A-Manger cost him (12.75), or his monthly gym membership (94.33/mo). He could also calculate it in reverse, noticing the minutes of his life saved if he only ever gave the old standard 15% tip instead of the new, expected rate of 20% (~196.23/year), or getting a pair pair of jeans for 50% off (56.60). Amir realized there were a lot of logistical and practical flaws involved in this line of thinking, but he was still proud of the system, even if it did make him a bit more frugal than he probably needed to be. Oddly enough, he spent as little time as possible looking at his bank statements, as well as his credit card, phone and utility bills, plus his student loans. He figured he was already doing enough.

Now of course the entire equation was thrown out of whack. For all intents and purposes, he had a near endless money supply. Time was the only factor in the equation, the only thing of value. It made sense to do whatever he could with his money to save as much time as possible, even if it was only a minute or two here and there.

So why couldn't he bring himself to spend any of it yet?

(More tomorrow)

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