Beverly Hills, California, 1969: As the night clerk at the Beverly Rodeo Hyatt House, on fashionable Rodeo Drive, I met interesting people.
I’ve seen Hendrix stumble out of the elevator, on his way out to gig, so stoned that he couldn’t get through the door because he was holding his guitar case sideways.
Chuck Berry signed in one night with a young woman, giving me his American Express. He wasn’t doing his duck walk, so I wasn’t sure it was Chuck Berry, and later I called American Express. As it turns out, they called his home. He wasn’t there, but his wife was.
Ginger Baker (of the rock band Cream) and I broke into the kitchen one night to make sandwiches. Taj Mahal said hello. David Nelson was in and out. Miles stayed there sometimes.
But the most interesting guest was Ralph D.
Ralph D. was a well-to-do guy in the real estate business, short and squatty, nicely groomed with nice suits, from La Jolla. Often, he stayed overnight at the Beverly Rodeo Hyatt House. He liked dinner in the Chez Voltaire room, and he liked the bar pretty well, too.
In that bar, a hooker named Gina was often in and out, in a manner of speaking, and she was Ralph D’s favorite. Alas, she appeared to fall in love with him, and this didn’t really work out for her. But that’s another story.
One day I asked Ralph D. how he made so much money. He didn’t exactly answer my question, but what he said was much more valuable. He said, “If you want to make a lot of money, you need to work in a field in which it is possible to make a lot of money.”
This caused me to stop and think.
I’m embarrassed to say, now, that my paucity of vision, then, only let me see part of this truth. I did see that working as a desk clerk would not be a field in which it would be possible to make a lot of money.
I pondered this idea, and realized that, as long as I worked for someone else, they would be making part of the money from my labor. Therefore, I figured, it would be wiser to work for myself. Then I could collect the payment to the worker (me) and also the payment to the employer (me).
Now, looky back, it’s clear that he really meant: you can make more in some fields, like Real Estate, than in other occupations, but I didn’t really grasp that key point then.
Years later, in San Francisco, I made my first attempt to use the valuable information he had given me. I decided to become a freelance bookkeeper. I would work for myself! I’d make the money of the employee (me) but also the money of the employer (also me), since I was working for myself. What a great idea!
Yes, bookkeeping would be the field in which I would make a lot of money.
Haw, haw, haw, haw, haw!