People who spend their money on the slim chance to win millions are derogatorily referred to as gamblers. “These people have a problem and need to get help,” but I understand the satisfying feeling of spontaneous and beneficial discovery. Or in their case, discovering their bank account several times larger than it was mere seconds ago. These people aren’t really addicted to spending their money. They’re addicted to serendipity. And sure, some extra money is a pretty shallow victory. But with a more altruistic goal in place, serendipity tends to be a pretty satisfying experience. It’s the reason I’ve gambled upwards of 100+ hours of free time in the past six months to helping strangers improve themselves and their lives. It can be difficult for people to understand why I go out of my way to help others, but that’s only because they are looking at the short-term benefits. In reality, I find a wealth of benefits that come from listening to other people’s struggles and then helping find ways to solve them.
I just had the most unusual conversation with a customer service rep. I was calling to ask about a magazine subscription that I didn’t remember making. I had recently been getting “bills” from the mag but wasn’t sure if they were really bills due to typical marketing campaigns which elude to a balance owed, but it’s really just getting you to subscribe. More importantly, when I called the customer service number I was greeted by an automated system. I provided my account number and it responded with a list of available information.
Just to be sure, I verified my current subscription status. And wouldn’t you know that even the automated system gives a “ball-park” answer: “With the payment of $10, your subscription will expire with the last issue being received in July, 2012.” What the hell? Can’t the automated system just tell it to me straight? So I asked to be transferred to a live human. The following exchange ensued: