The Warren Buffett You Don't Know – Part 1

Warren Buffett is returning to the U.S. from Europe in a private jet. As his plane nears its destination, the flight attendant gives out landing cards and a warning to all eight passengers aboard. ”The customs inspector here is utterly humorless,” she says, ”so no wisecracks or he will tear the plane apart from fore to aft.” Buffett, who quips as reflexively as he breathes, takes his card without comment.

In the terminal, a surly looking man with a crewcut and a pistol on his hip sits behind a small table. Buffett hands over his passport and landing card to the inspector, who does not seem to realize that the professorial-looking 68-year-old standing before him is America’s second-richest man. Or perhaps he just gets a kick out of trying to take the high and mighty down a peg. ”You left some things blank,” the inspector says peevishly. ”Do you have $10,000?”

The question could have launched a dozen snappy retorts, but Buffett restrains himself. ”I have what I left with,” he says carefully. The inspector furrows his brow–was that some kind of joke?–but does not press the issue. He asks Buffett if he has any anything to declare. ”I was given two books,” Buffett says. ”Well, you have to put it down, then,” snaps the agent, who fills in the blank himself.

Buffett shows not a flicker of annoyance at being treated like a misbehaving child. He stands mute and impassive before the inspector, who, after a few more curt remarks, can think of nothing else to do but let ”the Oracle of Omaha” be on his way.