15
Nov
11

Money,greed,and entitlement

I wanted to write about this topic while I am still angry…sort of strike the iron while I’m still hot ! Why am I angry? Someone just hit me sideways with a resentment from thirty some odd years ago having to do with my accident and the money I received. And because I guess after living on this planet for 52 years I still can’t believe the gall of some folks. In this case,I’m pretty sure that it’s not gall,it’s probably a mix of ignorance,misinformation and entitlement. There is only one thing worse than greed. And that is greed mixed a with a sense of entitlement. As some of you know I received an out of court settlement as the result of the burn injuries I sustained in 1979. It took over three years to prove our case and finally settle. The oil company ( then the third largest corporation in the world! ) used every dirty trick in the book and some new ones they came up with. But their vast resources and lies thankfully didn’t prevail. Instead I was awarded the largest out of court settlement in the history of the state of NJ. It sounds like a big deal and it was at the time. But only because it was the only tangible thing that they could give me to compensate me in some very small way for their gross negligence. I was unprepared for what came next. I was raised in a very modest home with many children and not much money. As a result I learned the value of a dollar and a good work ethic. Overnight I went from a disability check of a couple hundred dollars a week to receiving a check that made me a millionaire. I had people who tried to warn me and protect me. They knew in advance what might lie ahead for me. I had lawyers,financial advisors and others who told me what to expect and still I was amazed at what I experienced. I’m not going to go long on this topic because everything I write about will be covered in detail in my book, Beyond Recognition: An intimate view of a burn survivors life and recovery. I’ll just say a few things…One of the worst things that happened was that the settlement was made public. The media splashed the amount across the pages of all the local papers in South Philly and South Jersey and everyone who read that paper and who might have known me had a piece of very personal and intimate information. Something I was totally against. I don’t believe that people who have to go through ordeals like the one I dealt with should have to have the financial details of their life made public. It is absolutely NO ONES business how much compensation someone receives for a catastrophic injury. Could you imagine a total stranger asking you how much money you make a year or how much money you have in the bank !? Secondly NO ONE is entitled to any of that money except the person who suffered for it. It still amazes me that people think ” wow , he got millions of dollars”.  Are you nuts ? I was almost burned to death ! My family and I were torn to pieces by this event and it took many years for us to have any kind of normal life. I had total strangers soliciting me for money. People I never meant asking for mortgage money. I was all of 24 years old and all I wanted to do was have a chance at a decent life and some stability. The money I received was nothing compared to the pain I endured and to the struggles I’ve since had to deal with and go through. Even now today ,32 years later, I still struggle with issues from the accident that affect my relationships. You can’t compensate someone for pain. Its impossible. I was compensated for the income that it was calculated that I would lose as a result of my injuries. The calculations were wrong. I lost much more than any statistician crunching numbers could ever imagine. I’ve wandered from one thing to another for years trying to find something that gives people that inner feeling of satisfaction that we derive from knowing that our hard work is what supports us and makes our life happen or not. I’ve gotten other things on the inside that you cant find on the job. Ive found parts of me that Id never have been able to access had I not been injured. But make no mistake about it ,it wasnt worth the money. You couldn’t pay me to go through that again. No amount of money would make me say yes to that. Anyone who saw me in the burn unit and in the first few years afterward would say the same. But money does strange things to people. They kill for it,die for it,sell their souls for it and end up with nothing but an empty hole inside. Believe me I know. I wanted that money I received to make everything better for me and for my family. But it didn’t. It only meant that for a time we didn’t have to worry about where it was coming from or who was going to pay the hospital bills for all my surgeries. For that I am extremely grateful.I know many who have not been so fortunate. They have no income and no one to look to for help in paying hospital bills and long-term care expenses. My family and I didn’t have much when I was growing up ,but we had all that we needed. We experienced having just about anything we could want and that didnt make us any happier.  Many misquote the old saying by stating that ‘ money is the root of all evil’. It’s actually ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’. Money doesn’t make people happy. As my friend Dutch says ” Happiness is wanting what I have”. Just for today,I want what I have. There for I am happy. 🙂

 


3 Responses to “Money,greed,and entitlement”


  1. March 10, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Do not trust people. These are able to greatness.
    Real riches are the riches possessed inside.

  2. 2 Jan
    November 16, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    John – you have every right to be angry but you are channeling it well. I am so looking forward to reading your book and seeing the documentary….

  3. 3 Jan
    November 16, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    John – you have every right to be angry and what you are doing with that anger is great.


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Beyond Recognition

An intimate view of a burn survivor's life and recovery

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