June 19, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Friday, 15 January 2010 12:02
A friend of a friend of a friend — or something like that — had a relative with lots of money, so much money he was ranked as one of the top 500 executives in the world, or maybe it was one of the top 500 executives in South Jersey.
He was clearly a force to be reckoned with when it came to the time-honored tradition of making money.
While she was at lunch with him and his wife, she spent the greater part of the afternoon listening to them talk about success — his successes, their mutual successes, the successes of their children and their upcoming successes. That’s a lot of success to endure. Needless to say, it made for a tremendously boring lunch, listening to them brag nonstop.
We’ve all been in situations when we realize we could be having a more enjoyable conversation with the waitress, or waiter, depending on your preference. Usually my mind starts to wander, and I fantasize about things I better not write about.
Whenever I’m assaulted by Trump-like egos, who make me feel like Jiminy Cricket by comparison, I start to assess my life, the square footage of my house, the odometer on my car, my ancestry, my complexion, my credit-card debt and my crooked teeth. Then, I ask the hard question: Where’s the success?
I never gave a commencement speech. My kids didn’t compete in the Olympics. I never won a 2-foot-tall sports trophy, or even a spelling bee trophy, although in eighth grade I took first place in the PTA poetry contest. My father thought they were flying us to Florida, but all I got was a blue ribbon left over from the town dog show. I know because it had a space on the back for “breed.” (I still have that ribbon.)
To interrupt this incessant bragging, she finally blurted out, “So did you make any New Year’s resolutions?” The fellow, who may actually have been one of the top 500 executives in Ronkonkoma, exclaimed, “I plan to renovate the ancestral villa ... and make more money.”
I’ve thought about making that my goal, but if I make more money, I’ll spend more money, and I already spend too much money.
At that point, I would have left the lunch, wondering, “Why isn’t my life more like theirs?” Why? Because I suffer a chronic affliction shared by millions of people: I am “ordinary.” Don’t you hate that word?
Worse than just being ordinary, my life is usually filled with trials and troubles, challenges and obstacles, not to mention misadventures, pains, sorrows, and a heck of a lot of yelling. Some people give the illusion of having perfect lives while the rest of us feel we’ve been stamped “irregular fit” from birth.
Nevertheless, I’ve come to admire people who share that quality of “ordinariness” because their depth is measured by more than titles and assets and headlines.
The good news is the National Park Service already renovated my ancestral villa ... on Ellis Island.
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