And right now, as I write this, and am awaiting my introductory order as a new Executive in this exciting healthy dark chocolate business, my total assets are $40, as I also await my next Social Security check. When I paroled on August 24th from Folsom State Prison (yes, the one Johnny Cash performed at and sang about, though he never was an inmate there), I was given the standard $200 cash as “gate money.” I had to buy my train ticket to San Francisco, and coincidentally enough, my first purchase at a Walgreens drugstore was several brands of a product I had missed terribly for over a decade of incarceration—dark chocolate. I also had a check for $800, saved from earnings from my cartoon gagwriting. This was a fun and mind-stimulating activity that isn’t very profitable in real world terms, but the $80 to $100 a month that came in allowed me to have a relatively abundant prison lifestyle, with cans of tuna, sodas, summer sausages, etc. from the prison canteen. I had not ever been on The Internet, this is not allowed inmates, who are pushed out into an overwhelming cyber world with no preparation whatsoever. I had no place to live, since the friend who was going to take me in suddenly died. And the terms of my parole were that I had to live in San Mateo County, a place where I knew no one, for the next thirteen months. (can you hear the plaintive sound of violins in the background?) It was several days before I knew for certain that I would be able to collect $977 in monthly Social Security benefits, and my $1000 was going fast as I had to pay $80 a night for a motel room while I looked on Craig’s List for a room to rent. I was lucky that my friend, Susannah Lippman in Santa Fe, gave me the Apple PowerBook I’m writing this on when got a new one.
I finally found a room in San Bruno, in a house owned by a charming, kind man who emigrated from Fiji six years ago, though his ethnic roots were Indian, as are those of 40% of the Fiji Islanders. A beautiful Pacific paradise, but not much to offer in the way of jobs. The only furnishing in the room was a carpet, so I had to walk over to Target and buy a $70 air mattress, plus linen, to sleep on. I only had one pair of pants when I paroled, and had to get some clothes, a cell phone, a table or desk for my laptop, a printer, and high speed Internet connection. I was broke pretty fast as you could imagine, especially when my room rent was $650 a month. And thankfully, a beautiful and kindly case worker at the San Mateo County Human Services Agency approved my request for food stamps, so I get a debit card with $83 worth of food allowance per month. All this is a pretty humbling experience, but also exciting and challenging. I don’t focus on the things I can’t have yet, but on how much fun it is going to be to tell people, once I am solvent and prosperous again, how broke I was when I started my re-entry into society. So don’t talk to me about your shrinking 401K, or the fact your house is worth $100,000 less this year, or that you can’t afford a new SUV, or steak and lobster dinners, or had to cancel that cruise this past summer and go to the beach instead.
I am going to be wealthy as soon as possible, and the only way I can do this in this new business is to help make other people wealthy. I am sure some people I turn on to this opportunity will work harder and maybe even smarter than I will, and make a lot more money than I will. But my needs aren’t much, and after where I started out, even a modest amount of prosperity is going to seem like millions. I might even be able to get my first car in over twelve years, and a nice apartment, and a real bed. And I plan to have fun every step of the way! And share every step through these blogs. Maybe my next bestseller will be entitled: “From Prisoner and Pauper to Multimillionaire--Eating and Sharing Chocolate.”
You can be part of that amazing success story--yours and mine--contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org