Daily Archives: December 28, 2009

Mondays Column – Crystal Ball 28.12.09

This is the 2nd part of the Joe Crystal yarns, based on a true person (with a slight name change!).  We were surprised to see the paper out today, proving it’s not only us shiftworkers who work public hols 🙂  The paper titled it – Finding Riches in Unexpected Places.

“Greg, you will never be rich,” said Joe Crystal, Brisbane’s shabbiest millionaire, as he lit one of his trademark, super thin cigarettes.  “I might!” I said indignantly.  He laughed, “Mate, I’ve gazed into my crystal ball, and I’ve seen your future, you’re not going to make it.”  He certainly knew how to ruin a good cup of coffee. 

We were sitting on the back deck of his mansion, gazing over the city, while Joe ate his tea, which basically consisted of seven cigarettes and a bowl of hot water into which a beef stock cube had been placed.  I declined his kind offer to join him. 

“You should be out working, using your spare time to make money!” he said, waving his spoon about, “Thanks to hard work, I own a house worth millions, more property than a Texas rancher, have a bank manager who calls me ‘Sir’, and you could too.”    

“How did you get your start?” I asked.

“My uncle,” replied Joe.

“Did he give you some money?”

Joe snorted so hard that he sprayed  soup and ash all over the deck, “Him?!” he bellowed, “He wouldn’t leave a crumb on his plate for fear that someone else might enjoy it!  No, he turned up at our farm when I was a kid, with his flash car, fancy clothes and trophy wife.  ‘Dirt poor’ he called us, and singled me out, ‘You’ll never amount to anything’ he had said.  Well, I showed him.  I worked day and night to make my first million, then I hunted him down and waved a fistful of notes under his nose!  He laughed, ‘I knew you’d make it,’ he told me, ‘you just needed my spur on your lazy flank,’ then he had the cheek to ask me for a loan because he was broke!” 

“Well, did you help him?”

“You’re about as hard as a marshmallow aren’t you?  No, I laughed in his face and walked off.  If you want to make big bucks Greg, you need to be a lot tougher, hungrier, and a hell of a lot more determined.  Instead of sitting at home and wasting time with your wife and kid, you should get a second job, or spend time learning how to invest.  The trouble with you is that you’re too content by far.”

“I can’t help it Joe,” I said, “I like spending my spare time with my family.”   

He shook his head, sighed and lit another cigarette, “Well, that’s not a bad thing I suppose,” he said eventually.  “I’ve got four ex-wives and nine kids, who are all waiting for me to drop dead, no real friends, and see this,” he said, pointing at the bowl, “I’m worth a fortune, but can’t eat real food because my guts is shot to bits.   Whereas, you, ‘Mr. One Step Ahead of the Debt Collectors’, have bugger all, and seem about as happy as anyone I’ve ever met.”  He laughed bitterly, “You’ll never be rich Greg, but you’re a lot wealthier than you realise.” 

An hour later I walked through my front door and was greeted with squeals of delight from my baby daughter.  We hugged, and I discovered that she had filled her nappy.  Handing her back to Long Suffering Wife, I retreated to a safe vantage point and recalled Joe Crystals’ last words, “You’ll leave Brisbane soon, probably end up back in Gladstone.  Mind you,” he had said, staring sadly at me, “you could do a lot worse.” 

It turned out that Joe’s crystal ball was spot on.  And watching my wife grappling with a messy nappy that fateful day, I recalled another piece of advice he had given me, “Always try to get someone else to do your dirty work.”  He was a clever man that Joe.


Filed under Columns, Writing