It was the happiest of times, it was the saddest of times, it was a period of excess, it was an age of poverty. It was bonus time.
You never forget your first bonus. I had been with the bank roughly 6 months before mine was handed to me.
From the moment I first set foot in the building and took my seat, I felt its very presence all around me, like that of sinister portrait painting in old Dracula films. Never to be spoken about openly but constantly on everybody’s mind.
The ‘bonus’. Always there. Always reminding you of its presence. Aaah.
The days and weeks leading up to it
This is a pleasant period for many, barring a few unlucky souls caught up in badly managed or highly stressful deals.
The bonus was what much of it all came down to. All the sweat, blood, break-ups, divorces, arguments, ulcers and bald patches would be more than offset by the sheet of paper handed to you, as a knighthood was handed to a member of the warrior class in the Middle Ages. In short, people are excited.
Everybody more happily accepts doing extra work. Even the most miserable members of the banking caste, i.e. the interns and analyst, display an extra bounce in their step as they run to Starbucks on coffee or tea runs.
Happy days, ladies and gentlemen. Happy days.
Flats, cars, watches and luxury holidays
You saw it on everyone’s monitors. Everybody was surfing the web in search of new toys. New and used Ferraris, flats in Notting Hill or Monaco, Patek Philippe watches, Diane von Furstenberg ballet flats (for the male readership, I’m talking shoes), resorts in the Maldives, etc. All the bankers were exploring different ways of spending the upcoming bonus.
We even had a luxury car dealer set up a small stand in our cafeteria a few months prior to our bonus day. The flyers displayed the usual goodies: Astin Martin, Audi, Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, Porsche.
On the big day, after you were handed the letter, you walked out of the room thinking ‘it was the best of times’ or ‘it was the worst of times’.