We have this customer, who may or may not be a billionaire, but is certainly extremely wealthy. He has a legit pro-level golf course at his house. Apparently he had a hand in the invention of the bar code scanner, among other things. He's got to be going on 80 years old, if not more. (OK, OK, technically not a boomer, but the behavior tracks so it sticks).
He drives a 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC with over 700,000 miles on it in a George Washington's axe kind of way, and a ratty eggplant-colored 1964 E-type roadster which he bought new. I have bled on both cars several times. Today I told him I don't want to fix his R12 AC that I can't get parts or refrigerant for, and it would need to be converted to R134A, which requires everything and many thousands of dollars. And no one here wants to do it, because...
1: He is a pain in the ass, with unreasonable expectations.
2: His car is a pain in the ass, and is turning to dust. His dashboard would break in half if removal was attempted.
- We can't get parts for it anymore.
4: Mercedes-Benz R107s are awful pieces of shit that do nothing well and I hate working on them. (ok, that's my personal, professional opinion, but I am in a group chat of at least 6 other guys who unite over this single fact. Accept it.)
That's not why I have brought you here. No no! I have brought you here to share his unbidden rantings on humanity and all the things that our subsequent generations should do to survive the apocalyptic wasteland that his is nearly done creating! He does this every time he comes in, so I've taken to sparring with him for fun. I think we both enjoy it.
To be clear, I do not punch at this guy's level of intelligence, he is incredibly smart and has done a lot, but he is also out of touch with reality on the ground for the rest of us and is deeply eccentric in a crackpot inventor kind of way. One of those smart people who will tell you how smart they are, at length, while missing the forest for the trees. I think he enjoys our little back and forths, and only comes here because we're about the only guys who haven't become completely sick of his shit.
As (if) you read this, keep in mind that he sounds a lot like Ross Perot with less accent and a little Dana Carvey, and that I am openly laughing through the whole thing.
I often forget that as an Old, some of my references are lost on the yoots. If you are too young to know the Perot/Carvey thing, here is an example:
OK, background complete, here we go.
To protect the innocent (?) I shall call him... Tim?
I swear to you that this is as close to verbatim as I can recall.
Bold is him, italics me:
"Ok, got a minute? I'll tell ya something.. By my calculations, we only have 17 years left, max. The way things are, maybe 2030. Surface of the earth will be unlivable." (mind you, this is not because of climate change. It is nukes.)
Well who cares about your AC, then?! (I am clearly joking, in light of our previous conversation)
(office counterpart laughing, saying "disengage, disengage!"
"Know how we survive?"
Sure, Tim, rich people go to space, the rest of us live in squalor and fight to the death?
"You're wrong! We go underground! Do you know the temperature 10 feet underground?"
Yes, Tim, you've told me before. 58 degrees.
"Good memory, you've heard this! All around the world!"
Yes, I remember your last rant." (Yes, I said rant)
"You only need 2000 square feet 10 feet down for a family of 4! A vegetable garden above that footprint will grow all you need to survive!"
(nevermind the unliveable surface conditions, surely that will not affect food growth..)
Nice idea, but where, Tim? With what resources?
"You don't need resources, do it yourself!"
Diggers and land cost money.
"You don't need money, no, get a shovel!"
2000x10sq.ft with a shovel, huh? Where's the free land?
"All you need is dirt!"
Dirt costs money. Just the footprint is $150k around here these days, I don't have that. And I dug a 6 foot deep, 80 foot trench for my sewer connection, forget 2000sq feet down 10! (sensible chuckle, nevermind that most of the ground around here is sand & rock)
"Bah, you can... Did you know the Federal government owns 50% of the land in..."
They tend to show up with guns when you try to take it!
"Anyway, you get some dirt, you can do it yourself!"
"With my back surgery and metal in my shoulder?! I'm fit, but come on..."
"Where's the water, the power? Need to buy solar, that's not cheap"
"We need exercise! A bike! You put a generator on a bicycle, why, you can store 400W a day! You and your family get on..."
"Man, I ride bicycles 2,000 miles a year, it's the only time I find peace. I know that and I hate stationary bikes" (laughing)
"Ah, but... grumble... how old are you?"
"Hmm, you'll be 50... "(trails off, shakes head ruefully)
How old are your kids?
7 & 10.
"Those are the ones I worry about"
"Are they in public school?"
(shakes head) "Get em out of there!"
For what, private school? Speaking of resources, you have any idea what that costs?
"No no, self-taught, homeschool!"
Tim, it takes two jobs to support a family around here, my wife's only just been able to go back to work, and we were all just forced to homeschool our kids for a year and a half. No.
(Covid will get him fired up, too. It was a calculated risk bringing up the pandemic. You know how conspiracy theorist bingo goes).
"You can't lose hope!"
Too late! (I'm laughing loudly at this point).
"By the time you're 60..."
Come on, it's not like there will be social security waiting for us, and you just said we have 17 years, so who cares?
"Bah, you're being a fatalist!"
"Well yeah, welcome to late Gen X and everyone since. We didn't do this!
"But you can't lose hope!"
(laughing) Come on, all is lost!
"We've gotta work on you, I'm gonna come back and show you"
OK, Tim. Keep your windows down, get that fresh air while we can!
"I'll be back!"
This has been the first installment of ...
!The Rantings of a Wealthy, Eccentric Boomer!