Friday, March 28, 2008

What the heck are Bear Stearns employees doing?

JS, a male Bear Stearns employee talks to me in this third installment.

Me: It's been about two weeks since the merger with JPM was announced. What are you doing at work?
JS: My main business in pretty much dead. We're really not seeing any customer business. But I'm there because I'm waiting to see what the next step is. So I've been trying to develop a prop trading strategy. It's been at the very least interesting.
Me: Why would JPM want to buy a building with no business?
JS: I think we can get customers back. But we need to know what our current situation is because no one is going to bother getting customers until we know the status of our jobs. Until we know, we're just a shell.
Me: Anything newsworthy or juicy that only a Bear employee would know?
JS:People go on interviews and they basically do it confidentially [without telling anybody], when they're on those interviews, they also see their coworkers interviewing at the same place and same time. It's always a funny moment.
Me: Um, how do you know this?
JS: Personal experience. It happened to me.
Me: Someone at HQ was very angry as he relayed to me that they blocked He conjectured that they must have figured out that too many employees were wasting their time there. So what websites are you going to?
JS: I don't go to websites that are not reasonably relevant.
Me: No for you?
JS: No
Me: How can you take it? Just sitting there?
JS: I'm not just sitting there. There are middle office people who are trying to pass themselves off as traders. So they've been picking my brain asking endless questions about trading to pass themselves off as traders. The funny thing is there are some questions they ask that I have to tell them it's really outside the scope of what their brain can comprehend.
Me: What happens in a moment like that? How does it make them feel?
JS: They accept that.
Me: Don't they think you're a prick?
JS: I AM a prick. But they respect that I'm sharing my knowledge because no one else would take the time. My knowledge is broad and deep.
Me: Do you think they will be successful as traders?
JS: I don't think they'll be able to get a job like that.
Me: Why not? You've mentioned to me that interviews are just conversations, not really interviews.
JS: They are at the higher levels. At the more junior levels they are more detailed and less conversational.
Me: What if they wore a headset and you talked in their ear telling them how to answer each question?
JS: It could work with a lot of practice.
Me: So how do you get an entry level job as a trader?
JS: It's very difficult. Most people join after having a stint with a summer internship program or two.
Me: So the barriers to entry are high. I had no idea what I wanted to do junior or senior year of college to get it together and get specific internships that would lead to a full time job right after graduation...
JS: Yes, the job itself pays very well and it's not that hard.
Me: Are people still going to work on time?
JS: No, the place is thinning out. There aren't as many people there. And they come in later and leave earlier. I think a lot of people are taking time off right now.
Me: Are they getting paid for it?
JS: You can stop going in and still get paid.
Me: How do you know that?
JS: I think it'd be fine.
Me: How was the executive cafeteria compared to the regular cafeteria?
JS: I just found out that anyone can eat breakfast for free in the exec cafeteria if you wear a tie. Maybe you have to be an SMD but nobody checked. So I'll be going on a regular basis.
Me: What kind of offerings do they have in the exec cafeteria?
JS: Honestly it wasn't very good. Yogurt, fruit, juice, milk cereal. Some pastries. Cold bagels.
Me: What about the set up?
JS: Service is like a hotel and the set up is nice but the food is pretty basic, not impressive.
Me: Have you ever been in the executive bathrooms?
JS: Supposedly Ace Greenburg has a bathroom on our floor. But it's hard to believe that there's plumbing on that side of the building. But people seem to believe that it's true.
Me: I heard that the 14th floor has exec bathrooms.
JS: I only knew about the 14th floor having conference rooms. I'll go check it out [to see if there are any exec bathrooms] on Monday.
Me: Why?
JS: Our bathrooms are sucky. They're crowded. They stink.
Me: What do they stink of?
JS: Feces.
Me: Are people not flushing, is there poor ventilation; what's the cause?
JS: Large stinky dumps.
Me: Do you dump at work?
JS: I try to use a handicapped bathroom.
Me; Why is that better?
JS: Higher toilet seat.
Me: How does that help?
JS: Keeps my balls out of the cold water.
Me: I think that's a good end to this interview. Thank you very much, JS.

Addendum: After the interview and when my disgust for JS's final answer subsided, I thought about how it doesn't make any sense. The distance between the toilet seat and the water well / bowl would have to be greater than a regular toilet[for his balls not to hit the water], but when I think of handicapped toilets, I think of a higher base/stem/pedestal. I don't see how a higher base would help his situation.


js said...

there's also higher clearance from the water in the handicapped toilets.

frank said...

This is a wonderful interview - much better than anything I've heard on NPR. I'm so tired of news stories making splashy headlines for a few days and then the matter disappears with no regard for what happens to the people left behind. Rest rooms ARE important and clearance from water surface to male appendages can be downright frightening!