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A Coffeeshop BankerSome of us may have had the pleasure, or displeasure, of knowing people like Tom. A bullshitter of epic proportions whom everyone knows is a bullshitter, yet who carries on bullshitting without respite because with the passing of time his bullshitting knowhow has evolved and overtaken his capacity to tell fact from fiction.

By way of background Tom was an Egyptian lad who was raised in the US. I met him years ago in Washington DC, before he became an alleged investment banker. What I recall most from that first encounter was thinking to myself: “My God, this guy is an extreme exaggerator.” What I didn’t give him enough credit for at the time, however, was his creative capacity. Only now, looking back, can I admit that he infused high levels of creative genius in his stories.

The way his brain fabricated these tales should be the subject of a National Geographic feature on the intricate workings of the human brain.

Everybody knows a Tom

In practically every group you’ll find someone like Tom. The usual suspects generally exaggerate anywhere between 25-30% away from the truth. Outliers like Tom, however, will occasionally hit 100%+. For instance, someone will ask him how many women he’s been with and, without hesitation, he’ll double where he thinks others in the group would fall. So not only does he fabricate rapidly but he gauges his surrounding, constantly adapting output in accordance to input.

His are stories we love listening to even when we know they’re unfounded. If he accidentally bumps into a cute girl at the bar, excuses himself, walks away and reaches the group and someone asks him what just happened, he’ll reply something to the effect: “oh, she asked me if I was alone but her breath was kicking like Van Damme so I had to escape.” A kiss on the cheek in the real world would translate into wild sex in his matrix.

Initially, Tom used to tell everyone he was Italian. Even though his surname was as Middle Eastern as shawarmas. He figured it would yield better returns with the American girls. As we got to know him better and learned that his only link to Italy was a 1-week family trip to Rome when he was eight, he skilfully preempted any attempt to question him on his nationality and dismissed the whole Italian topic as a joke.

Fast forward some years and we’re both in London working in financial services… [READ MORE…]