I was coming home from a party one night with a group of friends and, as the designated driver, was behind the wheel. I unexpectedly hit a speed bump and, after we all bounced a bit, happened to see another one up ahead. So I did what any American kid would do … I sped up and hit that next bump at a fairly good rate of speed … we all hit our heads on the roof of the car … and laughed in unison (except for Steve, who spilled a drink all over himself).

I was coming home from a party one night with a group of friends and, as the designated driver, was behind the wheel. I unexpectedly hit a speed bump and, after we all bounced a bit, happened to see another one up ahead. So I did what any American kid would do … I sped up and hit that next bump at a fairly good rate of speed … we all hit our heads on the roof of the car … and laughed in unison (except for Steve, who spilled a drink all over himself).

Did I care about damage to the car? Of course not. It was a rental.

Through the years I’ve thought about this event many times … not just because of the fun we had or the friends I miss dearly … but due to my nonchalant approach to the car … just because it was a rental. For any damage … as long as it wasn’t obvious … was for someone else to worry about … and someone else’s future problem … once I safely returned the vehicle.

But I recognized something recently … a speed bump along my journey in life … for I realized that even without a contract in hand, I am surrounded by rentals.

The chair I am sitting in … the one with the broken arm and missing a wheel … was an inexpensive purchase … and as soon as I replace it, I will return it to … wait … I’m not sure. Will I toss it in the trash or donate it somewhere? Trash? It is made of plastic. That means this chair … or at least part of it … will be around long after I am gone. And donate this broken item? Do I really believe someone else will find comfort sitting in a chair in which I am tremendously uncomfortable to be in … or is this just a feel good gesture on my part … as the donation center is actually doing me a favor by taking it off my hands?

I never thought about it before, but the chair was actually a rental. I paid a fee up front and borrowed it for a few years … only to turn it in a while later. To whom? To where? Does it really matter?

My grill? Rental. My laptop? Rental. Television? Rental. In fact … almost everything I presently hold dear (except my wife) can be considered a rental.

But it goes further than that.

This planet we are on … Earth … we can mistreat all we want … after all, it is also a rental when we think about it.

But I don’t know where we can turn it in at the end of its days … for we risk leaving it broken and very much beyond repair.

Joseph Witthohn

About Joseph Witthohn

Mr. Witthohn is Vice President for Product Development and ETF Strategies of Emerald Asset Management PA, LLC. He is responsible for expanding the investment products offered by Emerald and its subsidiary companies. Joe formerly was part of the Investment Strategy Group for Janney Montgomery Scott and earned a Master of Science in Finance degree from the Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College following his receipt of an MBA from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at University of New Hampshire. He received his undergraduate degree in Marketing and Management at Philadelphia University. Holding the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, he is a member of the CFA Society of Philadelphia and brings 18 years of investment experience to his role.

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