Saturday, March 18, 2017

NY missive no 147 - A Master of the Universe on the 5 train

Since last November our office has been based down on Wall Street. When Dad was visiting recently he asked if there are many “masters of the universe” hanging around down there (he had just read Bonfire of the Vanities). As it happens the area’s more diverse than you would expect – it’s not just bankers. But I did encounter one up front recently.

I’d stayed later in the office than usual to interview people in SE Asia, and got the 5 train from Wall Street station around 9 or 10 pm. Unlike the rush hours when the trains are packed, my carriage was relatively empty. There were about eight people in total, spread out sparsely on the seats.

Two Wall Street types in suits came in, sat opposite each other, and one proceeded to regale the other at top volume about his latest business developments. It struck me that that man had absolutely no consciousness whatsoever of any other person in the carriage than himself and his colleague, who was far too eager an audience. On and on he went, his voice filling the carriage. He spoke lingo much of the time, about dynamics between departments and challenges in his new role that he clearly wanted to portray he was taking completely in his stride. He talked as if he knew the answers to everything, and as if what he was talking about, was everything.

This went on for two stops. When they got out, I heard him continuing at exactly the same speed and tone as they ascended an escalator, until finally they were out of earshot.