When life serves you windfall gains

Through the lens, lightly


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Fri 17 Mar 2023, 12:42 AM

Last updated: Wed 26 Apr 2023, 11:22 AM

Somebody had once told me a story, almost parabolic in nature. It was like this. When you go against the grain of penny-pinching — in layman’s terms being a cheapskate or a skinflint, or, if you are not a big fan of Thesaurus, a miser — and don’t really keep track of how much money you are dragging out of your bag each time you do a transaction, chances are you will be surprised. “Once, I was convinced I had exhausted most of the cash in my bag because I was on a ‘generous’ streak, so I did a quick stock-taking,” she said. “And I realised I had much more than what I thought I did.” Her grandmother had, in fact, told her that the more you give, the more you get back, and sometimes this happens right inside your wallet; it’s like some mysterious Mr — or Ms — Money Bags drops a dollop of largesse inside your purse when you choose to be extravagant… for good causes (obviously).

Many of us don’t use cash anymore, so it’s difficult to keep track of the loose, or not-so-loose, change lying around the inner recesses of your clutch or tote or pochette (take your pick). And that’s the reason why I hate credit cards and Apple Pay and bank transfers. They never make you feel rich enough.

It’s always such a pleasant surprise when you find a Dh100 note tucked away a little compartment of your favourite handbag, all zipped up and snug, that you had forgotten about. Or when you take out a pair of trousers that you haven’t worn in a while, and discovered you had stashed a couple of Dh20 bills in one of the pockets because you were in a rush or in an awkward position, and didn’t have time or room for manoeuvre to open your bag and place them in. For me, these are all forms of a windfall gain.

I’m fairly sure I’ll never win the lottery — never mind the inspiring stories I get to hear of people becoming millionaires overnight when they hit the jackpot — so these are the little ‘lottery’ earnings that give me immense pleasure.

I have another friend who told me this rather unbelievable story. He had lent a sizeable sum of money — Dh30,000 — to someone, and the day this person came to pay him back (in cash), my friend was leaving for the airport to catch a flight; he was going out of town for a two-week vacation. “I didn’t want to lug the money with me, so I put it in a box and kept it in a drawer, pushing it back inside as much as I could. This is Dubai, so it was absolutely safe, but I did choose the drawer in an unlikely part of the house… you know, just in case.”

By the time he returned from his vacation, he had forgotten about the Dh30k completely. “You know, every time I saw — or remembered — this person I had loaned money to, I would somehow believe that he’d paid me back via bank transfer. I had blanked out on the crisp notes lying in some forsaken drawer in the loneliest corner of my house.” (Clearly, he’s rich enough to be able to gloss over Dh30k in the real sense.)

A couple of years later, his wife was doing a spot of spring cleaning, and happened to open the drawer where the cash had been stashed. “WHAT ON EARTH IS SO MUCH MONEY DOING HERE?” she screamed at him. “WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO?”

That’s when the penny dropped.

“But it was also a windfall gain for us — because it was like we had stumbled on a pot of gold when there was no rainbow in sight.”


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