My Poorest Friend Is One Of The Richest People I Know
It doesn’t matter what time of day I contact Jaabir to play tennis, he’s always available. Jaabir is a certifiable tennis junkie and I love him for it. It’s easy to go a little stir crazy working from home. Over the past eight months since I left corporate America, Jaabir has proven to be a wonderful outlet in the often lonely world of entrepreneurship.
You might think Jaabir has a tremendous amount of wealth to not have to work for the past three years. Skeptics might assume a rich spouse, government assistance, an inheritance, or a lottery win to provide him so much freedom. I can assure you that Jaabir is neither a self-made millionaire nor is he good looking enough to have a sugar plum. Jaabir simply found happiness by not requiring much at all.
Some would call the area where Jaabir lives, “The Projects.” Jaabir calls his place, “Paradise.” With his mother, brother, wife, and daughter all living together in their two bedroom, one bathroom, 980 square foot apartment, there’s not much quiet. No matter. There are two public tennis courts just three blocks away where Jaabir spends most of his afternoons. Not bad for a $1,200 a month rent-controlled apartment where he’s been living for the past 10 years.
One time I went over to Jaabir’s home courts to hit for three hours. During our session, eight different neighboring tennis players came and went. All of them warmly greeted Jaabir as if he were the president of the club where there are no dues. Instead of opening up a fresh can of $4 tennis balls, Jaabir kindly asks for his neighbor’s balls once they are finished. They usually say no, but one out of every three say yes.
What about income to pay for rent, food, gas, and his daughter’s education? I’ve wondered the same thing myself so I asked. Jaabir responded with a litany of things. He told me the one time he won over $30,000 playing poker in Vegas only to blow it all on “fun.” He mentioned his $50,000 falafel store he started and sold for $100,000 when he was 27, eight years ago. Jaabir also talked about his dreams of becoming a certified US Tennis Association instructor for $50 an hour, but he didn’t want to pay the $500 in instructor fees.
Where I saw Jaabir work his magic was at the Apple store when the iPhone 5 first came out last September. Jaabir dutifully got in line at 6am just for the chance of getting a ticket at 8am to buy an iPhone 5 at 10am when the store opened. After striking out several times, Jaabir decided to camp out over night. Over the course of two months, Jaabir managed to procure 24 phones and make a $4,800 cash profit. Jaabir even invited me to cut in line one morning at 7am in order to get two phones for myself to sell for $400. I was too lazy to get out of my PJ’s to stand in the cold.
“With $4,800, I’m set for the next four months, easy!” Jaabir told me. With Jaabir’s daughter going to public school, free public tennis courts all around the city, and $350 a month for his portion of rent, there’s no doubt Jaabir has it made. He makes money when he needs to make money. Any more time spent working is a waste.
Jaabir’s life is not perfect, but it’s wonderful to anybody who has to work for a living. He has no boss and has the freedom to play tennis any time he wants. Jaabir drives a beat up 1996 Toyota Corolla and always seems to wear the same clothes. He doesn’t even spend money on haircuts given Jaabir answers to no one.
Work to live not live to work. In this case, how about simply live to live and never work?
Readers, do you think there is an unhealthy quest to make money for money’s sake? Isn’t happiness the most important thing? Is desire the cause of suffering?