Wednesday, April 30, 2008

5. Black Cars

5. Black Cars

Statue of Liberty. Empire State Building. Yellow taxis. All sights that come to mind when people think of New York City. Taxis are everywhere in New York and are easy to get, especially late at night on a weekday. Investment bankers are intrigued by these yellow objects, but opt to ride in stylish black Lincoln town cars and spend double the money for that ride home.

I could easily leave work at midnight, hop in a cab, watch the meter go up, and pay the $10 in cash or credit card (most cabbies claim the machines are broken or have failed to obey the rules and install the credit card machines, tiss tiss). Why would I ride in these ugly yellow cars when I can instead hop in a car that will take a few minutes longer, be driven by a guy talking on his cell phone the whole time, and pay $20 on my credit card. Easy choice, right?

I am guilty of opting for black cars but I have my reasons. The main reason is a bad experience I had with a cab driver. Soon after cabs installed credit card machines in late 2007, I hopped in a cab at 1am after work and headed home. When I got to my apartment I hit credit card on the TV in the cab, picked a tip, swiped my card when the screen said to, and then the screen told me the transaction was complete and that a receipt was printing. I asked the driver for the receipt and left the cab. The driver then started yelling at me and telling me I didn’t pay. He got out of the cab, called me a cheat and other names, and told me I had to tell him if I was using a credit card so he could hit a button. I obviously did not believe him since the TV told me I had paid and he gave me a receipt even! So I walked into my apartment and told him to piss off.

Fast forward to March 12, 2008 at 3am. After a late night at work all I wanted to do was get home and hop in bed. I get into the first cab I see and immediately relax thinking the stress of the day is over. I tell the driver the cross-streets and he starts chatting, “I remember taking some guy there once. That cheap motherf*cker skipped out on paying me and probably six-figures. I’ll never forget that guy. He lived right beneath that restaurant right there. He kind of looked like you.” Cut to me sweating profusely and fearing for my life. I never thought I would go out like this. I always figured I would die from taking a bullet jumping in front of a woman and her baby, not being murdered by a cab driver at 3am. He continues, “Yeah same kind of build as you, but he had darker hair. If I ever saw that little shit again I don’t know what I would do. I’ll never forget what he looked like. He tried to use the credit card machine but didn’t tell me and so he just skipped out on $10. I could’ve used that money more than him” I’m breathing a bit easier at this point, wishing I had taken a different cab, said a different address, or could be the invisible man. I respond by saying, “That’s awful. I didn’t even know you could pay with credit card. I always take the subway. This is my first cab ride in months. Are these credit card machines any good?” Smooth banker boy, smooth.

Only two minutes to go before I’m home free. He tells me I’m a fool and that even he wouldn’t take a subway so late at night, they’re just unsafe. Little does he know how unsafe being a cab passenger can be! We near the cross-streets and I tell him to drop me off on the opposite corner. I pay with credit card, of course asking him first if that’s ok. He tells me no problem and wishes me a good night. Despite being 3:15am I decide to go to the gym because I’m too wired from the ride. Just another night in the exciting life as a banker.

I’m guessing all i-bankers have had similar situations happen to them and that is why black car usage became so prevalent. No other logical reason to use the black cars unless you think the leather in the cars smells like rich mahogany. It’s science.

Monday, April 28, 2008

4. SeamlessWeb

4. SeamlessWeb

SeamlessWeb is the brilliant invention that allows us Generation X’ers to continue our avoidance of telephone use by instead placing food delivery orders online. Who wants to walk outside to the dozens of restaurants in a 2 block radius when you can keep staring at your computer screen and have the food come to you! And we wonder why Americans are obese?

For investment bankers, we are given $25 every night and $50 on weekends to spend on SeamlessWeb. We are told that these dollar amounts are “a limit, not a goal.” Obviously we adhere to this saying very strictly and are sure to only order the essentials such as six bottles of water and a couple red bulls. This $25 every night helps us save plenty of money since we don’t have to pay for dinner during the week. Non-bankers may think, “Wow that’s great, that money really adds up,” which is very true. But it also means that we are at the office every night of the week for dinner. It’s like giving a little kid ice cream after drilling in his mouth for cavities. To the other kids who just see little Billy with ice cream this seems like a great deal, simply going to the dentist to receive the ice cream. But they don’t really the pain and suffering Billy had to go through for that ice cream. Some bankers may go to the office for an hour on the weekend just to pickup that free $25 meal, but I value my freedom much more than that. $25 for an hour of my free time is too little, I’m more high end, like one of Spitzer’s women, minus the whole being a female thing.

I don’t want to complain about free food since it saves me a lot of money and is a nice little bonus. I simply want to point out the lazy lifestyle SeamlessWeb has created. It’s bad enough that people our age text and IM instead of call, but to not even be able to call a restaurant to place an order? How are we going to develop the skills to speak in front of an audience or in a meeting if we don’t even want to hop on the call to order delivery? I’m also just really jealous of the people who came up with the idea of SeamlessWeb because it’s a gold mine. They provide a sweet, easy-to-use interface and in return take a cut from all these restaurants. I want to think of a get rich quick idea like this instead of spending my days “livin’ the dream” in the land of investment banking. Hmmmm……

Sunday, April 27, 2008

3. Animal Ties

3. Animal Ties

I don’t know why, but for some reason it is not only acceptable, but normal, for investment bankers to wear ties with animals on it. I-bankers are conservative in all aspects of their dress, yet these ties are deemed appropriate. It baffles the mind.

Here’s a brilliant idea, we’re stuck in a bear market, so I’ll wear a tie with bears on it. That will look so professional and cool at the same time. And look, Ferragamo makes just that tie! I’ll probably be the only one to buy it too because my coworkers would never shop there…

Ok, I’ll admit it, I own a tie with bulls on it, but it was a gift from my cousin, so lay off me. I also rarely wear it because I see no reason to wear a suit and tie when I will be sitting at my desk all day and only seeing a client if my boss thinks the presentation sucks and wants someone to kick every time the client sees a mistake. But I digress. The point is, if you are going to wear a suit, it seems a bit silly to pair that with a tie with rubber duckys. Might as well throw on a pair of sandals and join an a capella group, d-bag

Sure dogs are a man’s best friend, but do you think it’s professional to wear your best friend around your neck when you meet a CEO to discuss $20 billion mergers? You don’t see me wearing a tie with photos of my best friend Steve, do you? Sure he’s not as cute as your little dog, but Steve would kick the living shit out of your foo-foo dog.

Investment bankers feel the need to try to be creative with their ties since it’s the only part of the wardrobe they really have a say in. Problem is, if a fellow banker likes your tie he will flip it over to see who makes it so you have to make sure it is one of the two acceptable brands, Hermes and Ferragamo. This limits your choices a bit, so you wind up going for the hippopotamus or seagull tie to try to be creative, instead of just picking a turtle or bear, since those are overdone. Needless to say, when everyone thinks this way, we all wind up looking like shmucks with stupid looking ties. I say we all take a stand and decide as a cult of investment bankers to stop wearing these silly ties and stick to stripes and solids that fit better with our conservative nature. Long live lameness!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

2. Blue Shirts

2. Blue Shirts

We investment bankers are not known for our creativity, but rather for our analytical skills and our ability to make large companies to do useless things that will earn us a hefty fee. Due to this lack of creativity, some banker of the yesteryear decided that we should stick to the colors that we are given to wear at birth, blue or pink, and those shall be the only acceptable business attire. During the first few years of life these colors separate young boys and girls so onlookers can know the sex of the child. When a child blossoms into your dream come true, an investment banker, these colors can both be worn to show that you, as an investment banker, embody all qualities that men and women should have.

One look in the walk-in closet that I share with my fellow banker roommate reveals a wide variety of shirts ranging from Brooks Brothers to Charles Tyrwhitt and striped to solid. The one thing these shirts have in common is that they are 95% blue with one pink shirt each for “casual” Friday. Outsiders may think that sticking to basically only blue shirts is lame and unstylish, and these outsiders would be right. But the truth is, when we bankers go to a bar after work on a Friday, we don’t want to be losers and have to give out of business cards or show our work id. So, instead, we just wear our blue shirts as a badge of honor and dedication to the job, and you can see from a mile away the women at Dorian’s and Phebe’s flock.

During my first few months on the job I tried to be rebellious and wear a yellow shirt or gray shirt but began to notice some weird looks around the office. People began whispering to each other, “Who does this kid think he is? Did he not read his banker guidebook? Does he think he’s better than me?” Truth is, I was not akin to the dress code of banking, and figured everyone could have their own style and be an individual. WRONG. What separates bankers from other professions is that we all merge into one being, a miserable, tired, blue shirt-wearing being. With spring in full bloom, I occasionally sneak out of the office during daylight hours and see girls in tank-tops and guys in sandals and cutoff shirts and I’m reminded of the good ol’ days. So, in order to make myself feel better about only wearing blue shirts day in and day out, I’ve decided to only wear undershirts with vulgar words, liberal sayings, and naked women on them so I can still feel young again. And I figure it will make for a great way to exit if I decide to quit and rip off my blue shirt on the way out.

1. Money

1. Money

Why else would we want to work 100 hour weeks? The pay per hour may be comparable with other salary jobs, but those jobs assume a measly 40 hour work week. Amateur hour. Investment bankers ("I-bankers") talk money all day long. Whether it's how much to acquire a company for, how low bonuses will be this year, or how expensive Banker A's new genuine alligator shoes were, i-bankers can never get enough money talk. As Gordon Gekko said in Wall Street, "Greed is good."

You may ask, "But don't all people want to earn more money? What separates investment bankers from others?" Besides their abnormally large brain size, investment bankers differ from others because they believe that money CAN buy happiness. Their money also buys hours of therapy and divorce lawyers since there's no way they can sustain a marriage. While it is true that money can allows investment bankers to fund their addictions to red bull and blue, striped shirts, it is difficult to spend money when you work an inhumane number of hours.

Investment bankers don’t just get joy out of making boatloads of money, what really gets them going is talking about it. Oh yea, that hits the spot. When bonus time comes it’s basically another version of the classic machisimo game, “Whose is bigger?” While doing great work may give most people joy, i-bankers define their success by that bonus number. This means a lot of ass kissing by usesless associates to make up for their lack of other qualities, but I’ll save that for another entry.

During these tough times in the market, many investment bankers are getting laid off, and bonuses are lower, which means all the more reason for i-bankers to complain. “Ugh, I’m only going to make $140,000 my first year out of college? Are you kidding me?” I admit, I too have been sucked into this thought process of “money, money, money” but I’m going to be on cloud 9 come bonus time….as long as I don’t get kicked in the nuts with a sub-$50k number. Most Americans would be happy to make $50,000 in a year, but my fellow i-bankers will jump ship if they make less than $100,000 this year. Absurd? Yes. Elitist? Possibly. Are you jealous? Obviously.

In the words of Nobel Prize winner Notorious B.I.G., “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.” But also mo’ money, more useless vineyard vines ties and mocha frappacinos.