During my first few weeks of work someone left a People magazine in my bullpen and every time a higher up came in he would open the magazine. He would laugh it off saying “Who brought a People magazine, newbie?” The funny thing is, that despite him trying to make fun of me, he would continue to read the magazine. I always saw my mom read People and I would peruse it occasionally to get my fill of gossip, but I knew it was a faux paux to be caught reading that “trash” in public, especially if you are a guy. Yet these big dogs who make seven-figure salaries would hang in my bullpen for 10 minutes to get caught up with the life of Lindsay Lohan.
While none are admitting to watching Gossip Girl and E!, no one is afraid to admit to reading the banker equivalent, Dealbreaker. Whether it’s news of the latest merger or the latest bank to layoff 10% of its workforce, i-bankers will email links back and forth. “Oooooo, Lehman is cutting 1,000 investment bankers, are we next?” “You think they might start firing analysts?” “Which associate is the next to go?” The gossip is non-stop.
When someone quits or gets fired the whispers begin. “Why do you think he was fired” “Do you know why she quit?” I think everyone wants to know for two reasons. In the case of firings, people want to know what they have to avoid doing in order to not be the next to see the door. In the case of people quitting, people want to know what else is out there and see if maybe they should leave as well. “He got that job? I’m so much more qualified.” Often people gossip out of jealousy. Talking is their way of venting their frustration, and i-bankers have a lot of frustration.
I used my banker money to see the Broadway show Avenue Q and there was a song that perfectly described i-bankers love of gossip. The word “schadenfreude” means to take pleasure in another person’s pain. Perfect for miserable bankers who are angry at the world because they are stuck in the office 24/7 and have shitty social lives, love lives, and basically lives in general minus the whole wealth aspect. When i-bankers hear about firings they immediately get nervous and pray it’s not them. As the firings occur they will act like they knew all along it wasn’t them, but still nervously ask around about who was canned. Then they will talk about that person’s faults and discuss their various shortcomings.
I personally think i-bankers are soft in their gossiping. A real man will read Page Six as well so they have bar conversation as well. Who the hell cares if Jimmy Cayne was out playing Bridge while Bear was going down? What I really want to know is which celebrity got a DUI and if I’m going to see Eli Manning at Nobu this weekend.