This person who many believe to be cold and have has even been described to me as seemingly “soulless” had just extended an offer to me to pay off a little over $100,000 in debt, with nothing in return.
This is going to be a weird post to write, because I don’t want to go into to many details and risk revealing anything about the person at the heart of the post. So if I’m vague, please understand it’s not because I don’t want you to hear the details!
Let me also just get this out of the way so that you can check out of this post if you were looking for some kind of salacious story involving some kind of “Indecent Proposal.” From that standpoint it’s boring, and has absolutely nothing to do with anything of a sexual nature.
Sorry to disappoint.
I’ve got an “acquaintance” who is very well off financially. To most people who knows this person, they are somewhat cold and emotionless. They are often seen as lacking of empathy and almost robotic in nature.
I am the type of person who sees this kind of personality as a challenge. I’ve always kind of been this way. I like difficult personalities, and I take a tremendous amount of satisfaction in myself if I can not only break through their wall, but ultimately develop a friendship with them.
So if I see someone who is outwardly cold or always seems grump, I start engaging with them. I chat and crack jokes, and in the early phases it’s almost always met with the expected response of furrowed brows and clenched teeth.
But over time I find that one thing it might be a joke that made them barely smirk, or that one subject I brought up that they responded to briefly. Then I start to build!
A case in point was at a previous company. We had a notoriously grumpy woman in her 60s who worked in collections. Her job every single day was to call customers and threaten them over the phone to pay their bill or risk being sent to collections. I’m not sure if it was her personality that led her to this line of work, or if it was the work that slowly shaped her into being aggressive and cold with everyone around her, but in any case she was feared throughout the office.
I tried coming at her from several approaches. I’d ask about the picture of her daughter on her desk, or I’d make a comment about her car, I’d compliment her necklace, or things of that nature.
I got nothing in return.
Then one day I said that her coffee smelled really good. She told me she had a son who lived in Italy and brought it back for her when he visited.
I said, “It must be comforting to sip your coffee in the morning and think of your son, knowing what a kind gesture it is for him to bring it back for you each time.”
She smiled a little smile. BOOM! There it was!
From that day forward she was nice to me. She’d say good morning, we’d chat a bit in the hall, I’d ask about her family, and then one day I came in to find a bag of Italian roast coffee sitting on my desk with a note that read, “Hope you have a great day!”
I had done it! I had cracked the nut!
We still send cards to each other around the Holidays each year. I miss working with her.
So this “acquaintance” of mine is a similar type of person, and while we aren’t sending each other cards at Christmas, we are friendly and I feel they are more open with me than probably 99% of the other people in our circle of acquaintences.
We were out for coffee one day, and this person remarked that I seemed stressed and looked very tired.
I was in the throws of my financial crisis, and was still in “we might lose the house” mode, so they were right to read that kind of stress on my face.
I explained my situation, and hit this person with the $100,000+ price tag on my outstanding debt. Their response floored me.
“Why don’t you just let me give you the money?” they asked.
“Come again?” I said as my heart skipped a beat.
“You know I’m financially independent,” they continued, “I also believe we should share the wealth. I have too much money for one person. Let me just give it to you so that you can pay off your debt and not have to worry about it. If you want to pay me back interest free you can, but if you want to just keep the money and never pay me back, I’m okay with that too.”
I was blown away.
“You have no idea how much your offer means to me,” I replied, nearly in tears, “but I can accept. I really appreciate it.”
It was not an empty gesture by any means, as the person doubled-down.
“Talk with your wife, and give it a day or two. If you still want to do this on your own, I can understand, but the offer stands. Let me know either way.”
This person who many believe to be cold and has even been described to me as seemingly “soulless” had just extended an offer to me to pay off a little over $100,000 in debt, with nothing in return.
I did as they suggested and went home to discuss it with my wife. We talked about it for several days, and I finally returned to the person, thanked them graciously, and officially declined the offer.
Why did I decline?
It’s pretty simple really: I needed to be taught a lesson. I needed to understand that this type of fiscal irresponsibility has repercussions. I frankly did not want a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Was it stupid of me to turn it down? I guess some might look at it that way. Heck… I guess MANY might look at it that way!
Cripes, you guys… come to think of it, now I’m starting to look at it that way. What in the hell have I done? SWEET MAPLE SYRUP, WHAT HAVE I DONE!?!?!?
Just kidding. I’m good with choice.
We just made the decision that we weren’t going to escape our problems via the good graces of someone else. Had it been a family member who had offered, that might have been different. This person I’m referring to isn’t family, and isn’t even that close of a friend. I just wouldn’t have felt right about it.
I also told this person that if they really wanted to do something with that money, they should donate it to a charity. Let it go to people who really need the help, and not just some dork who spent to much on a Best Buy credit card.
I often talk about ego on this blog, and how you shouldn’t let it get to you and make you purchase dumb things just to show off or keep up with others. Maybe this was a case of my ego getting the best of me in the opposite direction, but my pride wouldn’t allow me to accept this incredibly generous gift.
I’m comfortable with my decision, but I do often run quick scenarios in my head of what I might be doing right now if that debt had just kind of been wiped away.
I’d probably be talking to the guy who works at the deli downstairs in my office building. He’s covered in tattoos, never smiles, and for the most part seems to hate life.
I need to be friends with that guy.
Did I make a dumb decision? What would you have done in my case? Have you ever been in a similar situation to mine? What did you do? Let me know in the comments below!!!