For those of us who are not very rich, the idea of having great wealth is very appealing and the focus of many a day-dream along the lines of: “If I had $100 million I’d….”
No mortgage to worry about, no tightening of the chest everytime an envelope stamped with “your bill enclosed” arrives in the mailbox, no having to fight with the person next to you for the shared arm rest on economy flights, and on and on it goes.
But the thought occured to me that perhaps being very rich can also be very boring.
I was struck by the idea while attending a commercial property auction (I wrote this story about it) as I found myself sitting next to one of the bidders in the River Room at Crown Casino.
Without meaning to sound to mean-spirited, I’ll say the bidder looked like a toad with fat lips and fatter jowls and liverspots, though I may be embellishing.
Up for grabs was a petrol station on a busy road in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, a dull, but valuable piece of real estate.
Bidding started around the $5 million mark and the price rose rapidly in $100,000 jumps with my toady bidding friend lifting his hand every thirty seconds or so to up the ante.
When it reached $7 million, he stopped and simply said to his rival bidder, like he was ordering a drink beside the swimming pool, in a lazy, nasal drawl:
“He can have it.”
Like spending or not spending $7 million was like deciding whether to buy an ice-cream from the vendor on the beach or deciding between a cappucino and a latte.
But what if this is what life is really like for the super-rich?
Where things lose their value, no matter how much they cost, be they petrol stations, mega mansions, luxury cars, or overseas holidays – because if you’re super-rich you’ve already tried everything on the menu and there’s nothing left to buy.
And then it occured to me that maybe that’s the reason why billionaires keep on working until they’re one foot in the grave and seem never satisfied no matter how many zeroes are on their bank accounts.
And why they’re always trying to reduce their tax bill.
Or denying their children their inheritance.
Or just keep complaining about everything (and making cheap looking preachy videos).
Perhaps, we with less should appreciate that fact that a good bottle of red wine, a new car (or even a second-hand one), or a holiday one street up from the beach rather than on the beach can be celebrated and cherished.
Even if we drop dead the next day from worrying about the size of the gas bill…