Money talks and we all listen. There is a certain attractive aura around a wealthy person that engenders respect, admiration and, if he plays his cards right, groveling.
Money is one of the main ingredients of power and power must be catered to. There is also the mistaken belief that a very rich person might give away a few handfuls of cash occasionally or at least remember favorite grovelers in his last will and testament.
It’s possible for us underdogs to get temporary VIP treatment by persuading others to believe our financial status is higher than it actually is. However, rule number one is: Do not try to impress the wrong people. It’s okay to convince the bank’s loan officer that you’re a person of substance and a good risk for that few thousand you need for “odds and ends during a short period of low liquidity”. He doesn’t have to know the “odds and ends” are food and clothing and repair parts for your old Chevy.
But don’t hint at hidden opulence when being interviewed by the IRS or while the mechanic is adding up the repair bill for your old Chevy. A cry of poverty would be more in order. “You’re taking my children’s food off the table!” I once told a greedy transmission fixer. His exhorbitant bill was unchanged, but he gave me three Nathan’s coupons. “Hungry kids love hot dogs,” he said. What a great guy!.
A few brief remarks during a conversation with high level execs at a company conference can have the appropriate effect. The phrase “Land is money!” uttered loudly and with conviction, can be effective, even when unrelated to the topic under discussion. And if you later casually remark, “I’ve got to get the rolls back to the shop,” it wouldn’t be your fault if they assume your expensive British sedan needs work when you’re merely returning stale bakery goods.
Once at a social gathering I casually mentioned I was a particular favorite of my very sick agriculturist uncle. That was onlypartially true. He had, in fact, been dead for six months and you can’t get sicker than that. We were very good friends, both die hard Mets fans, so that was true. He’d been a less than failing farmer and when I said I was willed the receiver of his stock. That was also true. His stock consisted of two goats, a milk cow and several chickens.
Remember, being rich 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is the burden of the actual rich. We pretenders can slip back into comfortable indigence when it’s no longer necessary to influence a stuffy maitre d’ or to energize a sluggish clerk.
Sometimes you might have to work in the opposite direction to convince someome you’re more indigent than him. Returning from a posh Manhattan cocktail party, on foot, since I couldn’t afford a cab, I was approached by a large man who kept one hand in his coat pocket and asked for a handout in a threatening way.
This was no place for a rich man. I hunched over, with one hand reaching for a nonexistant weapon, looked furtively around and grunted, “Beat it Mac. I’m woikin dis side o’the street!”