Authors: Danny Wallace
ALSO BY DANNY WALLACE
Are You Dave Goreman?
(with Dave Goreman)
Random Acts of Kindness
SIMON SPOTLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
An imprint of Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
Text copyright © 2005 by Danny Wallace
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
SIMON SPOTLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT and related logo are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Yes man / by Danny Wallace.
1. Wallace, Danny. 2. Conduct of life. 3. London (England)—Biography. I. Title.
For my mum and dad, And for Sammy
“The wise man can pick up a grain of sand and envision a whole universe. But the stupid man will just lie down on some seaweed and roll around until he’s completely draped in it. Then he’ll stand up and go, ‘Hey, I’m Vine Man!’”
It was nearly midnight. I was standing in the rain, outside the house of a rich banker in Las Vegas
I checked my pockets. I had everything I needed. The photos. The keys to the car. The silver pocket watch.
Most important, I had the gun.
Because I had been asked to kill a man.
And I had said yes.
I wasn’t, really. And I hadn’t, really.
I mean, when was the last time
were asked to kill a man? It very rarely happens to me. And I’m not sure I could even do it, to be honest. If you asked me today whether I would kill a man for you, I’d most likely flat out refuse, and even if I asked for more details, my decision would still most likely be not to do it.
“No,” I’d say. “Surely you can resolve your issues with this man another way?”
And you’d see my point, and say yes, and I’d suggest you beat him at chess instead, and you’d walk away shamefaced yet impressed by my wisdom.
Nope. I can honestly say I have never killed a man. Not on purpose, anyway. And the only reason I forced you to imagine me on the verge of undertaking a messy assassination in Las Vegas was to give you an idea of how my life
have gone. How this story
have started. Me, standing in the rain, charged with a terrible and sinister mission, gun in hand. I mean, I
rain. And I’d look
with a gun. I wouldn’t
be out on my own after midnight in Las Vegas. I rather frown upon murder. And I really don’t know
a silver pocket watch comes into all this.
So thankfully the real story doesn’t start this way. But the real story did take me to some strange places, meeting some strange people, doing some strange things. And the real story takes place over the course of several months; not so
long ago. Several months which changed not just my life, but my entire
of life and my entire
I should just say thanks to all those people I’ve written about in the next few hundred pages. Their names are real, apart from those few cases where I’ve changed a name or detail to save anyone from any obvious embarrassment, or, in one rather central and vital person’s case, just because they thought it would be cool and so asked. There is also, I’m afraid, the odd occasion where I’ve moved an event to a slightly different time or place … but this is for your own good. I don’t want you falling asleep on me. I’ve got some very important things to say.
I wrote this book after keeping a diary. Some of that diary I have written more on than other bits, some I didn’t include at all, and some has made it in word-for-word. I recommend keeping a diary. Diaries are cool.
And lastly do me a favour. While you read this book—however long it takes you, and wherever you end up doing it—make a note of all the times you could have said yes to something. And think about where that yes could have led you. It might come in handy one day.
You look lovely today, by the way.
St. Petersburg, January 2005
I have started this diary to record all that is going on in my life. All so that one day I will be pleased I had recorded the things that have happened to me, for posterity If you are a historian from the future, please, save your thanks. Your time will be better spent reading up on my thoughts and philosophies.
So, with pen in hand, I say to you, Life: I am ready! Throw at me what you will!
It is quite incredible how a bus—a simple, red, London bus—can change your life
There were other reasons for why what happened eventually happened, of course. I’m not saying it was all about the bus. But the bus was pretty high on the list. Or, more accurately, the man sitting next to me on the bus. Here he is, right now, flicking through his
, checking his cheap, black watch, mere moments after uttering a sentence that, quite without him knowing, has had the most unexpected effect on me.
It’s like one of those moments in a cartoon, when a second of complete and total revelation hits an unenlightened fool, a moment in which they’re bathed in a golden light from the heavens above; their face a picture of comfort; the only sound the chorus of a thousand angels.
Of course, real life isn’t quite like that. I’m on a crowded bus in the East End of London, for a start, and so the only thing I’m bathed in is an unpleasant mist of sweat and coughs.
But it’s still an epiphany. And I’m still smiling from what I’ve heard, smiling from what I’ve learned. I start to wonder whether anyone else is feeling the same. So I sneak a chance to glance around. To see if one of my fellow passengers has been struck by the man’s simple message; his message of hope and optimism and all the things I hadn’t realised I’d been losing sight of.