How a $75 Parking Ticket Almost Ruined My Life

This story is featured in my new book, Soldier of Finance, now available at all major book retailers

Dear parking ticket: I don’t like you!

I was quickly on the path to becoming a loser all because of a stupid parking ticket.

That parking ticket made me initially lose hope and give up on myself.

It’s one of the few times in my life where I can remember saying out loud, “F*** it.  I quit!“.

You’re probably wondering how a trivial parking ticket could have such a drastic impact on my life.

Let me explain…..

******

My father was a college dropout and spent most of his life trying to make things work.

I knew that he was disappointed in his choices, and he didn’t want to see me follow suit.

He constantly encouraged me to go to school and get my degree. I had just enrolled in Santa Monica Community College, and was looking forward to making my dad proud.

When it came time to pay for tuition and fees, I handed the school’s cashier my mom’s credit card. To my surprise and disappointment, they didn’t accept it because it wasn’t my card, it was my mothers.

I figured I’d just come back another day and pay.

A few days passed and I returned to the same cashier to pay, this time with a check. I was ready to get this over with. I just about puked when the lady told me that I had missed the deadline to pay and the classes had been closed.

I had been dropped for all of the classes I enrolled in.

Are you freaking kidding me? Did I really just allow this to happen?

I could not believe it. I was in denial and disbelief, and I just felt like crap.

Missed Tuition DeadlineI asked the cashier what my options were, and she said that I would have to go around to each class and talk to each teacher individually to see if there was any room in the class. She also gave me a warning that many classes now had waiting lists, so it would be even more difficult for me to get in.

Not Giving Up…Yet

At this time, I was still determined that I was going to school and I was going to get the degree that my father desperately wanted for me. So, I went around to each of the teachers to beg them to let me back in.

The first two teachers I visited gave me some disheartening news. The classes were full and the waiting list was already ten people deep in each class. They told me there was little hope for getting into the classes this semester.

Once again, I felt sick. I couldn’t believe that I allowed this to happen to me. I still had some hope that maybe some of the other classes would allow me in, and that maybe I wouldn’t be full time this semester, but I would at least have some credits to my name to get things started.

I had this hope until I walked back to my car and found the $75 parking ticket that was on the windshield.

I found myself in another state of disbelief.

Of all the crap that I had gone through the past few days to now have a $75 parking ticket on top of it!

It was a low blow. At that exact moment, I remember saying out loud “<see expletive above>”

A $75 parking ticket took all the wind out of my sails, took all the motivation that I once had for getting my degree and threw it out the window.

When I think about the $75 parking ticket and how I let it control me and potentially sabotage my life and career.

I think about how stupid I was to let something so minuscule have such a large impact on my life.

Luckily, I did go back to college. I did finish my degree and because of that, and many other factors, I have proven to be very successful.

I think it’s easily understood that without my degree I wouldn’t have attained nearly the success that I’ve had. I never would have gotten an internship to A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc, which turned into becoming a junior broker, which then led to me becoming a financial advisor, which then led to me breaking off and co-founding my own independent firm, and then subsequently, creating my own RIA, Alliance Wealth Management, LLC.

None of that would have happened if I had not gone back to school and reapplied myself – and to think that I almost let a $75 parking ticket, a piece of paper about the size of a number ten envelope, dictate my future!

What little things in your life have you let get to you that have stopped you from pursuing your dreams and your passion?

When you take a look at them in the big picture of your life, are they minuscule?

Is it ridiculous that you’ve allowed something so trivial to have such a tremendous impact on your life? If so, it’s not too late.

Do what I should have done (I should have taken that $75 parking ticket and paid it off and told them to shove it) and then get on with your life and pursue your dreams.

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Comments | 11 Responses

  1. says

    The parking ticket itself wouldn’t have been as big a deal if you hadn’t already been having a tough day. We all have days where nothing goes our way and it seems like the whole world is out to get us. It can be frustrating and make you want to throw in the towel but when you look back years later you’re more objective and realize it was just another challenge you had to overcome on your way to success.

  2. says

    Your reaction was completely understandable. Like Mike says, the ticket alone isn’t what triggered your reaction, but rather it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Fortunately, you had the right long-term reaction. A successful person is a persistant one. Everyone experiences roadblocks, speedbumps, and other obstacles on the path to achieving any goal. The true champions expect them, deal with them, and move on. I’m glad that’s what you did!

  3. says

    I’ve often found that the biggest sense of desperation and anger can come from the smallest things. That’s because they make you think: if I can’t handle even the smallest setback, who am I fooling on everything else?

    I’m not proud of the little things I’ve lost my sh$t over, and I’m glad that they are few and far between. But if I ever give up, it will be over something small like a broken shoelace.

  4. says

    I am a VERY efficient person, so most of the time I get extremely frustrated over menial things, like my lawnmower clogging or traffic. I hate things that slow me down because I can’t get that time back, but I also find the things that slow me down are the things that teach me patience and build character. They allow me to answer the question, “what kind of person do I want to be?” It sound like you answered your setbacks by getting back up and pursuing your dreams with vigor! Great work!

  5. says

    Great story, Jeff. I would have loved to see you drop that f bomb. Funny thinking about it. But I feel your pain. Kick me when I’m down, right? I’m glad you persevered.

  6. says

    Bad things always seem to happen all at the same time. I’m glad you got over it and went back to college because it was definitely the right decision. When things like that happen you just have to take a step back and remember it is just money. Did you try to get it waived by chance?

  7. says

    In my family it is fairly well known that I can handle the big things – the really tough things that try most people – then I lose my cool over something really small…sigh. We laugh about it and fortunately I do see the humor in it…just not in the moment.

    Glad you were able to step back and keep things in perspective.

  8. says

    As Britt above says, it’s the “final straw” syndrome. We know we’ve hit rock bottom (if that doesn’t sound too melodramatic) and the only way is up. I know it’s a cliché but I reckon most of us have experienced something similar, as you so eloquently put it, a “F*** it moment”. :-)

    We get annoyed at the time but later, maybe even years later, we can point to that incident, that moment in time, and say “That’s where I turned things around”.

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