The best part about life, to me, is that stuff comes out of nowhere and just happens to you.
Then it is up to you to derive your own meaning.
A few days ago, my brother and I decided to take a day off and go to a Chicago White Sox baseball game.
While the game was remarkable, with all the twists and turns a 9-8 extra-inning game has to offer, the truly remarkable event happened before we even made it to the parking lot.
It only cost us $40, and it gave me a great idea for a business class I am teaching this fall at Saint Mary’s College.
I had been to the ballpark many times, so we didn’t even Mapquest it. We somehow turned off the Dan Ryan Expressway one exit early and ended up driving north toward the stadium lot on a side street.
The street led us to a short traffic jam, caused by a line of cars waiting to get into a parking lot for the game.
We were turning left, trying to squeeze into line for what we thought was the parking lot, when a nice-looking young man wearing an official-looking yellow blazer told us, “Parking is $40, and you turn up there by the policeman.”
This was a daytime game against the Minnesota Twins, not the World Series. Forty dollars sounded way too high.
My brother’s wallet was open, so he handed me a $20 bill. The young man replied a little tersely, “I said $40,” and looked a little nervously over his shoulder. My brother found another $20, and the young man said, “Turn into the lot right there by the police car with the blue lights on. Tell them Lot D.”
I said, “Thank you,” just as that police car roared up and our nice young man took off running in the opposite direction. The policeman stopped quickly and asked us if we had just given the guy money. I said, “Yes,” and as he screeched away in pursuit, he yelled “He just stole your money!”
Somewhat startled, but not wanting to hold up traffic, we drove two more blocks north to the real parking lot where we paid $27.50 via credit card (the White Sox don’t take cash, but the kid sure did) and happily went to the game.
The entire interaction with the young man took less than 20 seconds. The guy was smooth as silk.
So, was I scared? Appalled? Angry?
Not at all. At my stage of life (age 69), $40 is not as much money as it was when I was 25.
To be honest, I was impressed by the creativity and the chutzpah of a young man, who apparently needed the $40 more than we did.
In addition, I view this as a great way to introduce the concept of entrepreneurship to my fall class at Saint Mary’s College.
If you go through all the requirements to be a successful entrepreneur, this kid had all of them. He was highly motivated, well-prepared, had a specific idea and executed it extremely well, even under the eyes of a policeman.
The biggest requirement of being a successful entrepreneur is to be a risk taker. This young man was certainly that.
It fits right in to my first lecture, which is “There are no rules in business. There are laws and there are ethics, but there are no rules.”
So, the kid had figured out a way to get $40 for nothing. Yes, he broke laws and was not ethical. The ultimate entrepreneur. Just like the people who created and then inflated cryptocurrency.
Do I think the kid should be tossed in jail? Nope. Did I feel scammed? Yes. But did I feel scammed by the cryptocurrency people? Yes. I guess I don’t see the difference between the two.
In fact, maybe I should ask the kid to teach a class or two about entrepreneurship. I could give him $40 and maybe he would show up at Saint Mary’s. If he doesn’t, that’s a lesson as well.