Friday, January 11, 2008

Finding Wisdom In Unexpected Places


This just in from the Department Of Randomly Encountered Truisms: Money is bad, and getting too hitched to the notion of having it isn't good either. Now, I don't usually adjust the way I live my life based on the graffiti I see in my daily perambulations, but this message painted on an air compressor sitting in front of a roadside shop in Laos did give me pause. Made me think about stuff, too.

This compressor had apparently had a lot of experience with people getting too worked up over money. It used to work at a gas station just outside of Vientiane, Laos, and for a good many years, its services were provided for free by its owner. And everyone in the surrounding area was happy to have it as an option for filling their car tires and soccer balls.

But later, the owner decided to start charging people a small fee for using the compressor. And within a short space of time, the owner had made a fairly large sum of money, and started spending it on frivolous things, like a Ferrari made of Swiss chocolate, and a gigantic glass sculpture of a dung beetle. Before long, the owner went bankrupt, and was forced to sell all his belongings, including the compressor. A cautionary tale, to be sure.

These days the compressor sits along the roadside in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, silently offering this poignant nugget of wisdom to passersby.

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