By – James Altucher
On the staircase I passed a woman who was a prostitute but she was dressed like a Viking and she was crying.
I knew she was a prostitute because we lived in the same building for many years and she had one of the most expensive rooms.
One time I saw her come in at 3 in the morning and I asked her, “what do you do for a living?” I was trying to overcome my shyness.
She said she worked as a “party planner”. As a rule, everyone I asked this question to when I was in the lobby of this building, lied to me. One time a 15 year old kid rode his bike into the lobby at three in the morning and said, “he was visiting his mother”.
And the more beautiful the woman, the more likely she was to say, “she was a party planner”.
But ok, that told me nothing. The desk clerk told me, “she’s a hooker. She’ll do it with you if you want.”
This one time, though, she was crying. I don’t know why the Viking suit. I saw her from at least three floors away. I lived on the ninth floor and always walked down.
One quick story. One time I asked someone in the elevator (ok, I didn’t ALWAYS walk down) what was the strangest thing he ever saw on my floor.
He said that girl in one of the rooms was late on her rent. She had painted all the walls in her apartment black and would stay there for days at a time.
The room next to hers was occupied by a drug dealer and there were always lines of people out the door but occasionally she would be able to dabble.
One time, Stanley, the manager from downstairs, called her and said, “you need pay your rent.” She was three or four months late. The guy in the elevator didn’t know.
She said, “I’ll be right down”.
And then she opened her window, moved back so she could get a running start, and ended up splattered in the center of 23rd Street.
“Come to think of it,” the guy in the elevator said, “the next day you moved into her room.”
Which, now that I’m writing this, explains all the black walls I had then.
So the prostitute in the Viking suit crying on the staircase while pretending to be a party planner wasn’t really unusual.
I wanted to talk to her because of a cognitive bias called the “halo effect” which told all the biochemistry in my brain that she was actually a smart, sweet, kind, beautiful person who would take care of me forever once she got rid of that Viking suit, her tears, her ugly job, and decided to share her beauty only with me. Forever.
But I just walked around her. I was too afraid to talk. And for the next seven floors I kept saying to myself what a bad person I didn’t offer to comfort her. I still hear her crying, as if she were some baby whale in the middle of the night trying to avoid whoever it is that still stabs baby whales.
I saw that with my own eyes. I heard her cry. I felt the tension in my chest when I saw an impossible future shine around her almost like a distorted aura that I ten tip-toed around.
I felt my chest punish me when all I could think was regret for the next seven floors.
Back in the laboratory, a scientist took notes of everything that was happening. Notes in a language my feeble brain will never understand.
He then passed everything on to his boss. Who passed it on to his boss. Who then put it in a giant thing we might translate as a computer but it really wasn’t.
“More,” the computer thought, as I went on my way, to work, to marriage, to parenthood, to divorce, to starting and selling and failing and wanting and needing and loving and lusting and giving up and being humiliated.
“More,” the computer though, when I was desperate and scared. When my house was shut down. When I came back from the dead. When I met someone to love. When I wrote another book. When I looked out at the sky. Into distant space, into the curvature of time painted with pastels of black, purple, and rain.
“More”. And right now this second, and only for this second, everything is exactly where it is supposed to be. Where the boss’s boss’s computer’s computer wants me to be. How proud He is. “Nothing less, nothing more.”