Everyone says the stock market is a rigged game for the average joe, that you make more money picking stocks at random than by trying to pick up on the trends. When they say this, they cite charts and graphs and trends, friends and case studies. They don’t talk about me, though. Who am I? I’m just like you — or, maybe not you, but definitely at least one of your uncles, or the guy who drove the school bus when you were in high school. The point is, you know me. But I bet you don’t know that the stock market bought me my car — and it’s a really nice car. I take it in to get it waxed at least once a month to keep it that way, and the stock market pays for that, too.
So what’s my secret? I watch the nightly news. Kids these days, they think they can get everything they need from their social media feeds and the news roundup that comes through their smart phones, and it’s true that these structures offer access to a wide range of newsworthy topics, often handled in at least averagely competent ways. They forget about the intangibles that come from carefully following local reporting, though: the sense of community, the specificity of the weather report, the occasional flash of clairvoyance.
I know, I know, no one has cable anymore, the cord-cutter generation, etc, etc. But I’ve got a secret inside my secret, I’ve got a line that leads straight to the heart of the universe: once every couple of weeks, the nightly news on my TV comes in from the future. I think it’s a holdover from when my brother-in-law spliced some cords together so I could pick up my neighbor’s cable back in ‘98. No one lives in the house next door anymore, so these days I pay for my own cable, but it did something strange to the TV — and if you were wondering why the stock market bought me my car but hasn’t replaced my TV since 1993, that’s why.
Since you’re you, I know you’re wondering why I don’t do something a little more noble with my gift than make a little extra money, but it’s not that easy, you know? When I saw something bad happen to someone, I used to look them up in the phone book so I could warn them. They didn’t want to hear it. They always hung up on me. These days, I mostly try to send Facebook messages. I get blocked a lot. I’ve even been reported for threatening language and had my account suspended a time or two. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually saved anyone, but I wouldn’t know how to live with myself if I stopped trying. Still, it’s a pretty thankless non-job, and I don’t feel bad about using the perks to finagle a little payoff.
Besides, it’s not like my local NBC affiliate gives a really detailed list of which stocks are about to go up or down. Most of the local news doesn’t even touch on Wall Street, and when it does it’s only obliquely, so it’s on me to turn the information i get to my advantage. I’ve worked hard to hone my skills, and I’ve suffered a few big losses in the trying. On the other hand, I’ve got a few irons on the fire that I don’t think are really going to kick in for years.
Any tips for you? Yeah, buy stock in Amazon in 1998. I know, I know — you need to get to 1998 for that. Do you have any friends with a really old car?
Sidney Dritz is a former copywriter and current dirt enthusiast. Recent fiction publications include stories in Idle Ink and From the Farther Trees, and she writes about movies and television monthly at @dailydrunkmag. Follow her work as it develops on twitter at @sidneydritz.