Optimism Tax

Around 1:00 am on Halloween, I hailed a cab with a friend. “Drive around to the front of this building. Can ya leave the meter running while I go inside to tell our friends that we’ve left? Thanks, man… I appreciate it.”

A few minutes later, the cabbie told my friend to run inside and get me because he was in a hurry and had someone waiting.

John “Halcyon” Styn beginning a story on the Optimism Tax, which I paid today in the form of a GPS, some sunglasses, and an original PalmPilot. “[A] small price to pay to be able to continue trusting people.”

34 thoughts on “Optimism Tax

  1. I have an original Palm Pilot in a drawer. Still works perfectly and it worked better than and it outlasted the Palm V and Vx and it will outlast my Treo 650. It’s still got the infra-red add-on but somewhere along the line I’ve lost a modem I bought for it and never used. Have had it since the first week they went on sale in Fry’s in Palo Alto. I don’t know if I’m attached to it or not! I do also have a serial to USB cable which is a legacy of a later model. I might be persuaded to give it to you in person, if you make it to London and if I’m here at the time.

    “Optimism tax” is an odd euphemism. Better, I think is the idea of how one would live in the next life if all one had to live on was what one gave away. See


    I am not convinced there is a next life but I like the idea anyway. We can all give a lot more than we realize, as we discover from time to time.

  2. Hm, not a bad price to pay — curious, how’d you lose them? Excellent link by the way: I enjoyed it immensely.

    I haven’t lost all that much from my own optimism taxes. When I was younger — my savings of about $170 were stolen from my house in Costa Rica.

    Since then I’ve lost a company, pride & a few computers but nothing I couldn’t live without. Worthy sacrifices if I do say so myself.

  3. What I had stolen was a few things from my car, which was unlocked and in my garage at the time. Not a huge deal, but a bummer that shook me a bit until I remembered the story and hunted it down. I think everyone should read it.

  4. Yeah, without opening the linked post, it’s quite confusing.

    I think there’s a difference between optimism and foolishly hoping. I think you should take every means to secure your personal safety and the safety of things that are important to you, but after that, don’t worry. As long as you’re safe, things are just that. Thing.

  5. Errr, things rather.

    This is coming from someone who had his house burglarized in the past month. It sucks, and shame on me for not locking up better, but in the future when I do, then at least I know I’ve done my best.

  6. What a great story. Sorry to hear about your car though. I don’t think I could ever be that optimistic, but it’s a great goal to work towards…

  7. Well try third world countries, i don’t like the definition but a friend’s car was stolen at gun point one week ago. Yeah it’s strange that after playing Counter Strike you know what an AK-47 looks like!

  8. Letting bad thrive is not good. Securing ourselves and our close ones is a good thing. Don’t feel bad about being prudent and careful; much the contrary. What price do we pay as a society for trusting those who are not trustworthy?

  9. I paid my optimism tax about two weeks ago, on my birthday, in the form of my cell phone. My last payment before that was when I was 15 and my alleged friend stole my whole purse.

  10. I just got slapped by a ticket when deliberately taking an illegal left turn right outside my office campus šŸ™

    What gives solace is the fact that I broke the law about dozen times before I got caught.

  11. Yah but why not do the common sense thing! ….. friend grabs pack …runs in to get you. Now cabbie can stay or leave!….you’re not out anything except some time waiting for another cab! All you have to do is be a little more sticky. Think of it as a form of hygiene. Or will you consider to have sex without a condom? ….. roughly equivalent.

  12. Being robbed is the worst feeling ever. I’ve been robbed several times in the most unlikely places. The worst was when they stole my pictures of Asia and the only pictures of my grandparents that I had. Unfortunately I didn’t have any copies of anything. You have to think what kind of state of living a person has to be in to actually want to steal things. What comes around goes around.

  13. That’s a very “Hal” sounding story. I met him a couple times and he’s a really positive guy — always looks on the bright side of things, and somehow manages to get everyone around him to do the same.

    Consider yourself “Hal’ed” šŸ™‚

  14. Taking *basic* precautions is not being pessimistic. Just think this “if I lock my doors, then they will just walk on by.”
    If it’s in a monitored garage, then they’d be stupid to break the glass. Really, at that point, it’s just common sense, and **safety**. For God’s sake, I don’t want you to learn the hard way what could happen if you continue this behavior. It’s neglectful of yourself, and leaves your family worried. I’m glad you paid your optimism tax, but what are the rest of us going to take a hit on if something happens to you?