Mom said, “Grandpa Paul left you five thousand dollars.”
It was another beautiful California day. Ready to head for work, I was feeling joyless. I would be eighteen in five days and worrying about whether my light blue Subaru, now ten years old with one hundred and forty thousand miles and about the same number of rust holes, would make it through the week. My older brother, Rory, was in the Air Force. He’d just celebrated his second year, and had a bought a seven year old Mustang. I was beginning to think joining the military might be the way for me to go.
Five thousand dollars was a fortunate. When I think of Grandpa Paul, I think of hams on Easter, Pall Mall cigarettes and Iron City beer. I couldn’t believe Grandpa Paul had left me five grand. I’d loved the man when he was alive, and now I loved him more.
“I can buy a car,” I said. I’d been picking up the Auto-trader and a couple of those other paper rags that have car ads and ogling them like they were Playboy magazines.
“You should save it for college,” Mom said. “You’re going to need to pay for classes and books, and you won’t be able to work as many hours.”
She always made that speech. I’d argued against it but her logic was better than my emotions. I knew I couldn’t beat her. Feeling bitter about life’s unfairness, I said, “I know,” and stormed out because I knew that she was about to start talking about how important a college education was and all that bullshit.
Out in the Subaru (which started on the first try, after cranking it until the starter began slowing down, thank the fucking gods), I let out my frustration in a spew of swearing and a few hot tears. While I was doing that, I saw Salazin’s list.
I remember that day well, because that’s really when I made the decision that let me become a billionaire.