What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It is a classic saying that holds a lot of truth. It does seem that the tougher the situation, the more you can learn from it. But each lesson opportunity comes at a cost.
Imagine being a 17 year old Dutch boy who satellites into the 5th anniversary PokerStars Sunday $5 Million tournament for $2. He plays for 14 hours and secures a final table appearance and negotiates an amazing $518k payday. He has arrived at life changing money, or has he?
A Dutch newspaper wanting to interview the account holder of record noticed some odd discrepancies between the father, who's name was on the account who played, and a young guy talking about the win. Some detective work later and it was discovered that although he tried to claim he was 19, the son who played the tournament was actually 17 years old which is in violation of PokerStar's TOC and age requirement. Poof...$518k gone.
PokerStars, after their own investigation confirmed the violation and will not be paying him the prize. For the boy, at first it may seem like a trivial lesson as the win came so easily to one so tender in age, but time will likely indicate how special and unique a run it was. That money may never be seen again.
It reminds me of a hard lesson I learned in my teen years. I had chosen to leave Pennsylvania where I lived with my mother, to spend the summer down in Florida at my father's. He had secured a job for me, through a friend, at the airport car rental agency, General Rent-a-car. I was essentially an executive gopher, helping office-staff in any capacity needed. I would run cars between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, deliver mail, process important papers, and run errands for the executives in the office building next door.
I worked hard that summer, and as the summer started to wane, my responsibilities increased. Each day I needed to take the afternoon mail and cash deposit to the airport post office and bank at the end of the day. One day they handed me a massive pile of mail for the airport, along with the daily cash deposit. The box with mail in it was over-flowing and required two hands, so I stuffed the thick cash deposit envelope deep in my khakis. After the short five minute shuttle ride to the airport in the company shuttle bus, I walked to the post office to drop off the mail. My hands finally free, I reached down to check my pocket and the cash deposit envelope was gone.
Upon my return to the office, I was immediately sequestered to a window-less office. I was grilled by management. Where was the money? Why had I stolen it? Did I realize that it was over $2500? (this is in mid-1980's money) No one had approached me, so a pick-pocket seemed unlikely. The shuttle bus driver pleaded ignorance of finding any envelope, which left just me.
I was required to take a lie detector test because they didn't accept my explanation or innocence. They demanded I pay it all back to the company. It took almost my entire earnings from the summer to do so, but I paid back every penny. I resigned out of shame and embarassment. No one from the office, friends or management, ever spoke to me again. I returned back to Pennsylvania never to spend another summer in Miami.
It was a tough lesson. I accepted responsibility in a tough situation where I was too cavalier with someone else money. As a result, I'm extremely careful with other people's money. In fact, I don't borrow or lend money as a practice. Money is such a sensitive area between friends, family and work situations. It paints all our lives, so I prefer to remove is as a bone of contention from as many areas as I can.
I wonder what the Dutch boy's long term reaction will be to his situation?