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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Price of Mammon

"Indecision may or may not be my problem." - Jimmy Buffett

***

Voices of finance: banker's ex-girlfriend

"I remember the first time on a Sunday morning he told me he'd have to go into the office. I was appalled. Then I thought, wait, this is his way of telling me it's over. Turned out, quite the contrary. For him it was completely natural that if his work summoned him, he'd go.

This is what wrecked our relationship in the end. He was married to his work, not to me. He was working for a big investment firm, running a kind of a hedge fund. I'd tell him, just quit. You have made enough for us to live on for years to come. What's stopping you? We can travel. You are destroying your health, you can't sleep without sleeping pills any more, then in the morning you need more pills to get going.

And he'd say, I know you're right, this job is taking over everything, I am losing you. Give me 10 more years and I'll never have to work another day in my life, I'll never have to go back.

We both knew that he would never quit, He loves his job, it's his life, his identity. He'd call me up from New York, all cheery that his company put him in a double suite two floors higher than his peer which meant they'd spent $200 more than on him. Then he'd tell me it was foggy and the higher up you were in that hotel, the worse it got...

These were 21-year-old boys when they went into these banks, fresh out of university and they have been slaving away for years. Working your way up the ladder for such a long time you get used to measuring success in terms of money and status...

I do know for a fact that he is actually terrified of losing his job in a new crisis. I wonder if everyone in the industry has that secret fear...

He wanted to make me happy and spending money on me was the easiest way for him to do that... this thing about money and status, pitting himself against taxi drivers...

Bankers like him have this need to impress, and when they can't use money to do that, they don't know what to do...

We'd go out for a meal, but sometimes restaurants would have closed already. I remember that time we ended up in a kebab shop. He was so uncomfortable! I was really hungry and I simply wanted a kebab sandwich. And there he was, in his very expensive suit, trying to get me to order salad, and rice, and a coke, and what have you. He just couldn't handle the idea that we would simply have a very cheap kebab sandwich. Would get bossy and obnoxious to the owner. I swear, he would have been happier paying £400 for that sandwich than £4...

I thought people in finance would be really intelligent. They definitely are, though only in a narrow sense. Their overall intelligence, or understanding of the world, is often quite limited...

All of this is quite painful for me to talk about, to take my mind back to a time when I would often been seen as an accessory, as a non-person...

In London, 'banking' is a lifestyle. The funniest thing is going for an after-work drink (I used to work in the City myself for a while) and watching men who are trying to look like bankers, making attempts to pick up a trophy girl for a night. Ironically they always end up with a 'fake' trophy wife. The 'real' trophy girls are very good at telling an expensive watch from a cheap one, they check the cuff links, a suit's cut, they know who they're talking to immediately"
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