I can count on one hand the number of times I left the office before 5pm (New York time) the first six months at the bank. I was 5 hours ahead in London as well. Understandably, it was not unusual for me to have dinner away from home most nights. More often than not at my the desk whilst staring at one of a handful of computer screens.
But let’s get this straight: I didn’t have to eat at the desk on each of those nights. It wasn’t imperative for me to be there each and every moment. I was at liberty to sit and dine in a restaurant if I so desired. Yet most of those evenings I mysteriously felt drawn back to my chair. As if it called to me. Like the precious…
Sitting in the ergonomic comfort of my chair had become second nature. With its delicate support I helped European titans of business acquire peers, Arabian sheikhs realise multi-billion dollar constructions fantasies in the desert and Spanish banks raise capital with ease. The chair was born to ensure its master was comfortable during the course of his or her job at the bank. So when I would walk over to the local Italian restaurant in the evening to grab a bite, and the Italian girl with the nose ring and striking dark eyes asked if I would be dining in the establishment or order take away the answer was almost always the same. I yearned for my chair. Take away, please.
You develop an inexplicable attachment to your seat when you work for a bulge bracket investment bank. When I would sit at my chair I rarely felt discomfort. On the contrary, I felt I returned where I belonged. Home. The sheer number of hours, day after day, week after week and month after month spent sitting on my chair created a special bond between us. God help someone if they tried to swap chairs with me.
On occasion, when there was a slight backlog of work which could very well be completed on a Monday I never the less willingly chose to go in to the office on a Saturday morning. And every time I walked into the building, took the elevator up and entered the floor to find a relatively empty area, it was simply surreal. Only yesterday the place was being drowned with the sound of phone lines ringing off the hook and people nervously running about with stack of papers while getting high off of the smell of the next billion dollar deal. From hyper activity to ghost town.
On such Saturdays I would get twice as much work done as normal. Mainly because there were no interruptions. No annoying pests asking you to help out on random projects. Phones lines were silent, apart from the occasional ring or two but, let me be honest, I rarely answered the phone. After all, you seldom saw senior bankers in the office on a weekend. More importantly, answering the phone was like playing Russian roulette in a bank. If it were up to you, you’d never ever answer the phone.
Once finished with whatever work I came in to do, I would spend some extra time sitting there surfing the web, planning my exit, working on a potential side business or call family and friends. One would think I’d want run out of the place as soon as possible. Not always. Sometimes the resources at my disposal and the comfort of the chair gently persuaded me to spend an additional hour or two there. Remember, in a twisted way, I sometimes felt at home sitting on that chair.
Just as every individual within an investment bank plays a part in the organisation, every object, too, plays a role. Your chair was tasked with one mission: keep the banker seated as long as possible.