Service Society
Chapter 11: Money Matters

Copyright© 2011 by Lazlo Zalezac

Dexter never did identify the time when he came to the realization that he was a multimillionaire. There wasn't an 'Aha!' moment in which he suddenly realized that he was wealthy.

He was considering a minor spending spree, until Charlie handed him a little report entitled, "Losing the Lottery." It wasn't about buying losing tickets, but about winning and then losing all of the winnings. The stories within the report were not pleasant. Relatives were hounding the winners for money. There were attempts to kill them to inherit the money. They were offered sleazy business opportunities that lost money, and they went into debt with major purchases. He was shocked with how many lottery winners declared that winning had turned their lives into nightmares.

With Charlie's guidance, he avoided most of the mistakes that the suddenly rich made. He didn't rush out and buy new cars, a large mansion, or send out a lot of gifts. He didn't advertise his sudden wealth, although it was a matter of public record.

In a way, his concerns over his heart problems had pushed thoughts about his wealth out of mind. It had kept him from talking about it. He also had the payment from the initial lawsuit. That helped temper his spending, as it hadn't been large enough to tempt him into a major spending spree.

His only major expense at that time, had been hiring Amber. That had been more of a necessity than an indulgence, anyway. Two days alone in the apartment had convinced him that he wouldn't be able to cope.

Since his initial meeting with Charlie, he had spent a day with his tax attorney. The funds for the children had been established. He'd had to pay taxes on the forty million.

Of course, he'd had to file jointly with Janet, since they weren't officially divorced. Also, she had not received the money until the day they had dealt with the tax issues. Dexter had not been present for any of the discussions with Janet.

It would be a year or so later, before she realized how much grief Mark and Dexter had saved her with the slight delay in getting the money to her. Her first meeting about the money had been with Charlie. He had explained all of the difficulties that she would face, as a result of getting it.

Being an accountant, she was well aware of the kinds of issues that would crop up in managing the money. She hadn't, however, given any thought to the sharks what would start circling around her. She took Charlie's advice to heart. Rather than quitting her job, she transitioned to part-time status. Rather then move out of the house, she stayed where she was. She didn't tell the kids about the money, knowing that they wouldn't be able to talk about it if they didn't know about it.

After paying taxes, the amount of money Dexter had available was significantly reduced. The one good point, was that the money left over was all his. As far as he knew, no one had a claim on it. He did know that someone, somewhere, would try to find a way to get some of it from him. Mark, and Charlie, were working hard to prevent that from happening.

Charlie's first investment recommendation was to put the majority of the money into a very conservative fund that would pay a reasonable return on investment. The amount of money earned would be more than enough to support Dexter at his current standard of living. The fact was, his website was already covering his cost of living expenses. After considering the matter, Dexter approved the investment.

His business also required a significant amount of attention. The explosion had destroyed his office. Fortunately, he'd had insurance that covered most of the costs. He set up two new offices, at two separate locations. One office was for Eric, and the other was his. He and Eric resumed their normal work schedule, once the initial surge had passed. They teleconferenced on Wednesday afternoons, to plan their work for the next week.

After several articles about lousy service at stores and restaurants, Eric had started interviewing employees of those same stores. He asked them about their working conditions, and what could be done to improve them. It turned out that waiters and waitresses weren't particularly happy about having to deal with so many tables. They didn't like having to be brusque with customers, in order to meet the demands placed upon them.

The two men had decided that change couldn't come from within the businesses. It would require customers to complain directly to management. In their articles, they maintained that the staff couldn't be blamed for the poor service. The customers had to point out the horrid conditions placed upon the staff as the primary cause of poor service. It was a campaign that started slow, but increased in momentum with time.

The expanded scope of the website drew more visitors. It turned out that a lot of people were dissatisfied with the service being provided to them. A subtle war among service staff, employers, and customers took shape. Stores and restaurants quickly realized that it was a war that they couldn't win. Dissatisfied customers simply took their business elsewhere, and good staff moved to places with better working conditions and pay.

Much to Dexter's surprise, some chains started asking to have their businesses advertised on his website. In the same way that businesses had advertised compliance with 'green' practices, they now wanted to advertise that they were service oriented.

The revenue generated by the website took a remarkable surge upwards. Dexter used a good portion of that money to improve Eric's office. His own office remained rather spartan. He didn't really care about the quality of his office. Eric was rather shocked when he discovered that he had a better office than the owner of the company.

Now that money wasn't an issue in Dexter's life, the question that he faced was what to do. He had a business that was basically a part-time job. He had money, and he had lots of time.

He remained lonely.

His principle contact with people occurred with the handful of businesses that he frequented, his financial adviser, his lawyer, and the owner of the gym. It wasn't much of a life, and he knew it.

There were still some things that he needed to do. His car was still parked at the airport in Reno, Nevada. He figured that the parking fees were probably more than what his little car was worth. Still, it was his car, and he was rather fond of it.

Undecided about what he was going to do, Dexter headed over to Eric's house. Eric had invited him over for a Sunday afternoon backyard barbecue, and to meet the rest of his family. On his arrival, Dexter was introduced to Susan, Eric's wife. The kids, Mike and Stephanie, showed up a little later.

After the introductions were finished, Eric and Dexter retired to the backyard to drink a little beer and talk.

Eric asked, "How are things going?"

"I'm bored," Dexter answered.

Eric asked, "So what are you going to do about it?"

"I don't know," Dexter said.

"Are you going to move out of that apartment?" Eric asked.

Dexter answered, "I don't think so. I like not having to maintain a house."

"You could buy a townhouse," Eric said.

"That would tie me to the area," Dexter said. "I'm not sure that I want to stay here."

"Why not?" Eric asked.

"I don't really have much of a life, here," Dexter answered.

"Like you have a life anywhere else?" Eric asked.

Dexter sagged in his chair. Eric had hit upon a painful truth.

"You're right."

"Why don't you travel a little?" Eric asked.

Dexter said, "I thought about that, but living out of a suitcase and going from one hotel to the next isn't all that attractive."

Eric snorted. "Get an RV. Drive to places and see the sites. Stay in campgrounds. Talk to people."

"That's not a bad idea," Dexter said giving it a little thought. "Aren't they huge?"

"You can get a smaller one, since you aren't traveling with a family," Eric said.

"That's an idea," Dexter said. "I could even tow a car behind it."

"Or you could get a trailer, and pull it behind a car," Eric said.

"I like that idea," Dexter said.

He remembered camping with his parents. He wondered if they still made tent trailers. Of course, he would want one with a toilet and an indoor kitchen, unlike what his parents had owned.

"People in campgrounds are probably friendlier than people in hotels. You might be able to talk to them and find out what is really going on in this country. Hell, if you're smart, you could even add a few articles to the website. Then you could claim your travel costs as a business expense," Eric said.

"I wonder," Dexter said.

He would have to check with the taxman. The idea of meeting and talking to a large number of people of different backgrounds was really attractive to him. The recent articles about service at stores and restaurants had drilled home the fact that he didn't know too much about the lifestyles of others.

"You can get an air-card, and work from anywhere there is cellular service," Eric said.

"That's true," Dexter said. "That's not a bad idea."

Eric said, "In a way, I kind of envy you. I'd love to do that, sometime."

Susan came out and took a seat with them. "Do what?"

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