So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Thursday, March 28, 2013
Blue Collar Millionaire
Back in my firefighting days, my ladder truck driver was a millionaire. He certainly hadn't made his money as a firefighter. After he got out of the army, he and his wife opened a little mom and pop store. That did pretty well, but he was a shrewd stock market investor and that's where he really made his money.
He enjoyed being a firefighter and driving the ladder truck. He did it 27 years before retiring. I had the pleasure of working with his the last years of his employment. Paychecks piled up in his wallet. The secretary had to remind him to cash them. For him paychecks were literately pocket change.
Except for the fact that he and his wife took expensive vacations, one would never know he was so rich. His house wasn't anything special. Every seven years he'd pay cash for a new car. By year seven the old car always looked pretty beat. Appearances never bothered him.
Management was afraid of him. The guy was good at his job and generally followed orders well. The only time there was trouble was when he thought an order was stupid. Then he did whatever he wanted, and always got away with it.
Once the Chief gave an order that we could no longer wash our cars at the fire station. The millionaire never washed his car, but that day he did. In fact, he made a show of it by washing it right in front of the station. The Chief came out, didn't say anything for a few minutes. In a quiet voice he requested that cars get washed behind the station from now on. To this day the guys still wash their cars at work but nobody working there now knows how that came about.
I thought it would be the greatest thing in the world to have that millionaire attitude. What did that money really signify anyway? Independence. Not caring what other people thought. Not having to do stupid things just to keep a job. While I didn't have the money, I adopted the attitude anyway. It worked for me.
My lovely wife eventually adopted the same attitude. It wasn't too far below the surface in her anyway. It's surprising how many people just assumed we had hidden inherited wealth or a lot of political power. It wasn't money that allowed us to act independent, but frugality and self reliance. In the end, it was just as good as millions.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.