What Do Rich People Look Forward To?
a cranky re-run from August 2011
Mrs. Cranky and I are buying a new dishwasher. Soon. We are looking forward to a dishwasher that is quiet, dries the dishes, and does not require washing the dishes before you load the dishes to be washed. It is nice having something to look forward to. You plan, you save, and you brag to everyone about what you are going to do. Getting stuff never seems as great as looking forward to getting the stuff.
What if whenever you wanted something, you made a phone call and 20 minutes later you had it? Sounds nice, but there is no anticipation glow; nothing to look forward to. What do rich people look forward to? I don’t mean just rich, I mean stupid rich. The kind of rich where you never ask how much, you only ask when it will be delivered.
Do the uber-rich know the joy of looking forward to something? I’m talking 6 year old Christmas Eve anticipation.
Howard Hughes was the richest man in the world in the nineteen sixties. He had done everything and every woman. He had everything he could ever pay for and yet he spent his last years as a recluse. He had nothing more to look forward to.
He may have wished for a 52 inch TV mounted to the wall with access to 200 channels and every movie ever made on demand by merely pushing a button. He may have wished for a telephone that he could carry anywhere in his pocket. A phone that would take pictures and even video clips. A phone that could then send those clips all over the world. A phone that could access all the information known to man in seconds.
He may have wanted a thin tablet that could order any book and it would be available for reading in 30 seconds. He may have wanted a box smaller than a deck of cards that would hold as many song recordings as you could possible listen to in a life time.
He may have wanted a five pound machine that you could use to send messages instantly around the world, messages, videos, information all in seconds. A machine that had access to the dictionary, an encyclopedia, film and music libraries, could calculate the most complicated problems in an instant; a machine that could store, sort, and organize information that would require a large building in the nineteen sixties. Howard Hughes may have wanted these things, but they did not exist. They were things he could not even imagine. Things that he could not look forward to.
I don’t have all these things, but they are within my reach. They are things I can look forward to. I guess that makes me wealthier than Howard Hughes ever was.