Who punishes the tempter?

The other day I posted that I’m not a very good custodian of other people’s money. Look what happens every time I help mum prepare and distribute her de rigueur hongbaos over the past few years.

I’m too stingy in some cases and over-generous in others, besides missing out on a couple of persons who should have been given a hongbao but were not; due to confusion as was the case at the extended family’s reunion dinner; and perhaps because I overlooked the family significance of this or that person.

I could have inadvertently caused relatives, near or distant, to feel unfriendly towards mum because of a shortfall in the value of some of her hongbaos I gave on her behalf. Who knows?

Then came the latest debacle detailed here: about overlooking one donation to Breadline till the bulk of the collection from family members had been sent out.

So, given my ineptitude in handling other people’s’ money, it is always something of a surprise when people ask me for financial advice.

Like an ex-colleague who wanted to know if he should take a fixed or a variable rate for a mortgage for all of  >$400K over all of five years.

Naturally I advised: since your loan is so small and your cashflow is so strong, you are more likely to redeem your full loan be4 the five years are up. Even if you don’t, not worth worrying over the interest differentials, since it’s not as if you are borrowing $40 million.

Not very helpful advice, I’ll concede.

But the request to look after another person’s money that tops all must be the one that came from a total stranger on Jan 27 when I was having another joust with Marina Bay Sands’ slot machines.

I was happily concentrating on the Jackpot Party slot when lo and behold, the uncle sitting next to me, who was doing extremely well with his machine, asked if I could look after it for him.

I pretended not to understand what he meant, but speaking first to me in Chinese and then English, he declared he needed to go to the gents. I was tempted to retort “Then just cash out la” but overcame that wickedness and erred on the side of generosity, nodded my agreement.

After he disappeared, I took a glance at his accumulated credits and they were in five figures!

SXXX! What if he took a long time in coming back and I wanted to sample more slots? Why did I allow myself to be tied down by an incontinent stranger?

An even more wicked thought crossed my mind. Perhaps I should cash out his winnings and disappear?  Except I wasn’t desperate for his money and I’m among the majority kept on the straight and narrow because we fear the consequences of being caught.

That’s when I wondered if many of the casino crimes are not the result of  people like the uncle who asked me to look after his slot — or to place chips on their behalf — and expose innocents to temptation?

If I were a foreign worker who had gambled away my whole month’s pay and a foolish uncle — with a rich slot — asks me to take care of his winnings for a while, I may look at it as a go-sent opportunity for me to walk off with the money!

And if I get caught and get punished, shouldn’t the temptor be equally guilty?

You tell me!

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