educator, writer, speaker, devoted family man, amateur philosopher, chess enthusiast, basketball junkie, connoisseur of fine hip hop, and purveyor of wit and wisdom
My half-brother DJ and I love challenges, and a few days ago we made a simple bet. Make $100 cash in 24 hours. If I fail to make the whole $100, I would have to hand wash DJ’s car, and if he failed to make $100 he would wash my car. If we both fail, we both wash each other’s cars. Real simple bet with only two real simple rules:
We chose Friday June 21 as the 24-hour period because we both had that day off. Here’s a summary of what happened that day.
It turns out that DJ properly pre-planned the day before by calling up folks to arrange odd jobs to be completed on Friday. He woke up early and drove 45 minutes to his mom’s house. He spent so long there doing different odd jobs that he practically gave her a new house. He pulled weeds, trimmed trees, cleaned dog cages, and pretty damn near landscaped her front and backyard. He even washed her car with no water hose by using some 2-bucket system in which he washed, rinsed, and dried one section of the car at a time. He worked inside and outside of her house for about 3 or 4 hours and she eventually gave him $60. Then he lined up a number of other odd jobs and car washes with friends of his. Around 1:00 in the afternoon, he sent me a text with two words: “I win”. By the end of the night he made $125.
See what had happened was…
I started the morning with dropping the boys off at day care and going to my dentist appointment. That ended around 11:00 and then after running an errand, I came back home and went through the garage to see if I can find things to sell at a pawn shop. I piled some things in my car and drove to three different shops with no luck. The last shop decided to take some of my old comic books for $20. That was around 1:00 when I got DJ’s message telling me he was all done.
That was when I had a brilliant idea. I could actually take the $20 I earned from selling the comic books and use that as seed money to turn it into $100…at the casino. I have faith in my hold’em skills, so I hit the poker room at the San Manuel Casino in Highland around 2:30 in the afternoon. After an hour or so, I was up $50 and feeling pretty good. Then something happened and the cards just turned against me. My two pair would lose to three of a kind. My three of a kind would lose to a full house. I actually had a full house that lost to a dude with 4 of a kind. How often does that happen?
Anyway, long story short…I lost my $20. Plus an extra $75 I had with me that was going to buy some extra groceries later on.
Now that today is Saturday and I’ve had time to reflect a bit, here are the lessons to take away from our $100 challenge:
Lesson 1: Everything being equal, hard work wins every time. The thing about putting in some solid physical work is that you control the work. Effort goes in, reward comes out. You negotiate the terms before you start working, you get an idea of the time and effort required, and you get paid the exact amount you agreed upon at the start of the job. It’s not as sexy and exciting as poker, but hard work is predictable enough to bank on it.
Lesson 2: Trust your instincts. Earlier in the week, I came up with 2 or 3 good ideas that would have required a lot of strong effort on my part, but they would have worked pretty well. Instead, I tried to take the lazy way out and gamble my way to success. If I would have just stuck with my first couple of ideas, I would have been okay.
Lesson 3: There’s’ honor in hard work. Not only can you get paid for your time and effort, but there’s a unique sense of accomplishment that can only come from a job well done. Late this afternoon, the kids and I drove home after spending the day in Long Beach. When we drove to the house, we saw DJ outside getting ready to wash his car. I reminded him that I lost the challenge so I need to wash his car. That was the deal. He said never mind…he was always planning to wash his car today anyway. He said he’s really particular about taking care of his car and doesn’t trust anyone else to do the job as well as he knows he can.
With that, I went inside and ate a slice of humble pie.