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Reader Mail, Part II

Reader Mail, Part II

More from the mailbag…

Q:  I loved your reality show ideas, particularly FingerFork.  Who would be your ideal contestants on Celebrity Finger Fork?


A: The ideal contestant for Celebrity FingerFork would possess three key attributes: 1) Has already been completely disgraced; 2) Still feels no sense of shame; and 3) Open to receiving more publicity.  So I think you could choose 2-3 contestants from each of these pools and have yourself a nice competition:

Down-on-their-luck ex-athletes looking for a reduction in their prison sentences: Lenny Dykstra, Roger Clemens, Jim Leyritz (fuck you again for 1996, Leyritz!), Jayson Williams

Reality show morons looking to extend their undeserved 15 minutes: That chick from The Real World who’s been on like 85 reality shows since and is now about 40 years old, someone from The Hills, someone from one of the 70 or so permutations of the Real Housewives franchise, that Joe Millionaire dude

Financial shysters also looking to cut down on their Club Fed time: Marc Dreier (congrats on the sentence, bro!  Only 20 years?  You’ll knock that shit out in like six with good behavior – you can probably be impersonating the CEO of Brookfield before 2015), Dennis Bolze, Lenny Dykstra (in case he doesn’t make the cut in that first category; he’s a classy guy and needs to be on the show, although for him a better showcase might be Celebrity TongueFork) , Nicholas Cosmo

Others likely to be available and qualified when the show finally hits the airwaves in three years:  Ben Stiller, Lindsay Lohan, Tila Tequila, Shia LeBeouf, that fat kid in all those Judd Apatow movies, Perez Hilton, Paris Hilton, Matt Bush (nice pick, Padres), Richard Dreyfuss, Luke Walton, Drew Barrymore, my old trigonometry teacher, Artie Lange, Peter Criss

Q: Chilly, you have to choose between one of the following two options.  Makeup, surgery, etc are not allowed to obfuscate either alternative – only clothing reasonably expected to be worn by an average citizen is allowed.

Would you rather have:

a.) Peter Criss’ makeup permanently tattooed to your face, or

b.) A second penis located on the right side of your abdomen, exactly half-way between your armpit and your waist.  (For clarity’s sake, a penis only, no testicles involved – testiclez if you want to keep your format intact)


A: I have given this some serious thought, and will give you my abbreviated reply.  Obviously, your age at the time of decision is very important.  Given that I’m most likely over 50% as old as I’m destined to get, I have stepped back in time a bit to answer this question.  But not so far back that Kiss is cool, that would be unfair.  I’ll assume I have to make this decision when I’m 18 years old – post KISS’ prime, but in the wheelhouse for spending a lot of time outside.

Impact on job opportunities: Having the makeup opens up a few potential occupations: Kiss cover band member, tattoo artist, Hard Rock Cafe waiter.  But the makeup eliminates almost every mainstream occupation.  The second penis keeps most jobs open (assuming that you wear a Brooks Brothers non-iron shirt, those things are baggy as fuck), eliminating only lifeguard, lion tamer and romance novel cover model.  It also opens up new career opportunities in niche pronography and carnival sideshow performance.

Edge: Second Penis.

Impact on romantic opportunities: While offputting for most, the cat makeup still leaves you in good shape with blind chicks, Kiss groupies, tattoo freaks, and sensitive types who “get” people only on their most emotional level.  Second penis would be an unwanted conversation piece in most amorous situations.

Huge Edge: Peter Criss makeup.

Impact on social life, non-romantic: This is close to a toss-up.  With a second dong (oh, speaking of, all you HSBC folks, did you know your internet admin is Jin Dong?  Solid) you could keep your current group of friends, for the most part.  But would you really want them?  They’d be giving you a ton of shit for never taking your shirt off at the pool, etc, and if they ever found out?  You’d have to hit the road and find new friends like Bill Bixby at the end of every episode of The Incredible Hulk. With the makeup, yeah, you’re hanging out with freaks and weirdos, but they probably think you’re pretty awesome for tattoing your face permanently into that of the least popular member of Kiss.  Close call.

Slight Edge: Peter Criss makeup.

Conclusion: I’ll take the makeup, please, and put me in touch with a fourth tier booking agent while you’re at it.

Actually pretty innocuous if you're pale with facial hair and bags under your eyes
Actually pretty innocuous if you're already pale with facial hair and bags under your eyes

Q: Chilly, whose legacy would you rather have: Martina Hingis’ or Anna Kournikova’s?


A: This would seem to be an easy one – Hingis was ranked #1 for four years, won five Grand Slams in singles (and a bunch more in doubles) and dated Sergio Garcia.  Kournikova never won shit and was ranked in the top ten for a blink.  But I’ll take Anna’s legacy, all day, every day.  I prefer the epitapaph: “Widely considered one of the sexiest women in the world for a decade, made a ton of money, also pretty good at tennis, once considered one of the ten best in the world” to “Extremely successful, yet homely, tennis player ranked #1 in the world for 209 weeks, won five grand slam singles titles, but let’s be honest, three of them were the Australian Open, and that’s like the PGA Championship of tennis, so really she won a Wimbledon and a US Open, which is great, but she probably wished she was hotter.”

Seriously, Hingis never won the French?  Seems like that’s the one she should have won.  Mix in the borderline racist (and definitely idiotic) sound bites and the positive test for cocaine during a 2007 comeback, and you have a cocktail of meh.  Anna, on the other hand, seems to be a pretty good ambassador for that World Team Tennis thingee, was a top-ranked doubles player (albeit with Hingis) and other than getting absurdly skinny, hasn’t made many missteps.  I’d rather have been the uber-hottie who was pretty good at tennis – call me non-old fashioned.

Not that difficult, really
Not that difficult, really

Q: Chilly, thanks for the Office Etiquette 101.  I’m new to the office environment and suspect I have benefited greatly as my initial instinct upon hitting the cube was to play Guitar Hero on my Nintendo DS.  One topic you didn’t hit was office romance, any rough guidelines?


A: A couple things: if you are an intern, you should not make any rash romantic moves until the offers have been made or are 99% finalized.  I’ve seen offers un-extended for “inappropriate” activities (even though they may have been completely appropriate, but somehow offended the delicate sensibilities of a more senior banker).  Also, if there is a community space where exhausted people go to catch a couple hours of sleep after multiple all-nighters, I would highly recommend that you DO NOT EVER FOOL AROUND IN THAT AREA.  At the place I worked, the community couch room was being analyzed by a Tufts task force in full biohazard suits – apparently, powerful new communicable disease strains were being created on those nougahyde petrie dishes every night.  I wouldn’t even sit on those things if you can avoid it.

Aside from staying off the couches, the key advice I can offer in any office courtship is this: make sure there is a TON of alcohol involved when you broach the topic with your potential friend.  Plausible deniability is imperative.  If something happens, but one or the other of you regret it, you can always chalk it up to “man, I was drunk last night, I don’t even remember what happened after we drank our seventh shot of Wild Turkey 101.”  This is better for everyone involved.  And not in a date-rapey sense either, more in a convenient-excusey sense.  Helps minimize the awkward the next day.  Trust me on this one.

This is a pretty involved topic, actually, I will expand on this in the next Etiquette 101 (that actually may be a 102 0r 103 level) but the wisdom above is all you need for now.


Office Etiquette 101, Lesson #2

Office Etiquette 101, Lesson #2

Okay, let’s get back to the subject at hand.  I was in the process of giving the young-uns sage advice upon how to act in the office (once they get to that exalted spot).  So here’s lesson #2.

How To Not Be Hated By Everyone In Your Office (Lesson Dos)

7.  Know when to not look at your Blackberry – Newbs typically are pretty fired up to get their ‘berries – maybe not so much anymore as everyone and their brother has some kind of phone that is also a camera, television, sewing machine, etc.  But back in the day it was a pretty big event. (When I was getting started on The Street, I got one of the old school assed Blackberries that looked like pagers and showed three lines of text.  And yet somebody figured out a way to play Donkey Kong on that tiny mofo.  Donkey Kong!  Okay, it was a poor facsimile, but a strong effort anyway – a step up from upside down 58008 on your TI calculator.  And those little Chunky bar-sized motherfuckers were awesome, fitting seamlessly on your belt.  The new ones definitely destroy the lines of your outfit, if carried in stylish belt holster.)

The widescreen berry - best ever
The horizontal berry was the best ever

While your Blackberry can sometimes by useful, it should ultimately should be seen as an electronic slave collar, leash or catheter.  You are suddenly at/near work, 24 hours a day.  Which is awesome.  Dinner with your parents who flew in from Ames, IA?  Better have your shit on vibrate so you can bounce to the office if some important analysis is required on Friday night at 9:30 PM for a Saturday internal call.  But that hardly ever happe – actually, it hardly ever doesn’t happen.  There are no excuses once the thing is on your person – 2:00 AM emails should still be read when you are low man/woman on the totem pole.

Aside from all the standard smartphone usefulness, probably the greatest attribute of the Blackberry is its functionality in helping you avoid awkward small talk. Are you stuck on the elevator with someone you either barely know, cannot stand, hooked up with or combo platter?  Whip out the ‘berry, make a disgruntled face while uttering a barely audible mild profanity.  Then start frantically typing.  Continue doing this until said person exits, someone you desire to communicate with enters or the awkwardness melts away from disinterest and lack of eye contact.

Keep in mind that people senior to you – no matter how senior, one day, ten years, it’s all the same in the “business world” – need your undivided attention when they are speaking directly at/to you or are otherwise confined in a room with you.  Seniors frown upon Blackberry use by juniors in their presence; they strongly prefer a grapes/palm frond/averted gaze approach.  So use a little common sense – when stuck on a conference call with the notoriously dickish MD, don’t pound away on your friggin Blackberry.  You will either be eviscerated on the premises (to the delight and amusement of all the other unlucky souls stuck in that office of horrors) or have a virtual knife implanted in the small of your back.  This is not a  great outcome.  If you are really working on something important and have a certifiable need to check your email, then grimace (for all to see), leave your materials at your spot at the table (but take a pen and paper with you) and urgently (yet quietly) exit the room and take care of business in the comforts of your own cubicle.  Check while you’re there – make the most of your momentary freedom.

One exception to any of this is if you are playing Brickbreaker; if you’ve got a strong game going, fuck it.  Once the man starts beating you down, you show him you’ve got 750,845 points and 127 men left.  That will earn you more respect than merely doing a good job and working hard.   In fact, you should always have a game going, it really improves the quality of life on those elevator trips (when you should be shutting the fuck up as per #4).

8.  Be careful with the Bluetooth headset – I have a Bluetooth headset; I wanted to get the full disclosure out of the way upfront, cuz that’s how I roll.  When I put on the Bluetooth, I look like an asswipe.  I realize that.  It’s a sacrifice I have to make sometimes because my SO’s apartment gets ZERO cell phone reception, and certain of my retarded friends insist on calling me rather than text, email, registered mail, courier pigeon, etc.  But at all times I am aware that I look stupid.

One thing you Paduans will quickly notice about the business world is that self awareness is in very short supply.  Most of the folks you will encounter have an image of themselves that’s vastly different than the way they are actually perceived in the world.  Career success and the monetary rewards that go along with that success often have unsavory side effects, such as self-unawareness.  So prepare yourself to deal with a lot of sleeve-rolled-up, headset-wearing nimrods pacing around their office and randomly barking banker-sounding jargon into their headsets, just as they’ve seen done in the movies.  (Wait a second – why would they have Bluetooth headsets in the office?  Wouldn’t they just use one of those telemarketer headsets?  Brace yourself, but some dickbag tech company came up with a Bluetooth headset that also picks up landline calls – it was the biggest development in office douchiness in 2007-8).

You will see a few of those guys.  Don’t be that guy.  Only wear a Bluetooth outdoors and only when absolutely necessary – and take that shit off when you aren’t actively using it.

This guy?  You will never be this guy.  No way.
This guy? You will never be this guy. No way.

9.  Don’t go overboard with speakerphone – You may also wonder, why doesn’t Bluetooth Guy just use his speakerphone?  Because speakerphone has a way of pissing off people very quickly, that’s why.  Let’s run the math – the typical industry group at a bank has probably 110 people or so in some ghettoish common cubicle area  – they will try and spruce it up with a nickname like “the bullpen” or “downtown Baltimore” but don’t believe the hype.  I’m sure other office environments have similar setups.  You will become very, very familiar with all those surrounding colleagues during your career.  I could identify probably 30-40 different people solely by their gait and the sound of their footsteps during my cubist period, I shit you not.  I could also identify about 75 different personal phone conversations just from hearing a snippet of one side of the convo fifteen feet away – “Farsi baby talk?  Neeraj asking parents for a loan til bonus hits.”   My point being, you hear way too much from other people.

So if you are listening to an hour long earnings call on speakerphone, that means 10-15 colleagues are also hearing that shit.  Keep the volume down very low if you’ve got to go that route, or don the dreaded telemarketer headset.  (I never wore one as a matter of principle).  I have seen homicidal rampages ignited by a very loud (and even work-related) speakerphone conversation between two people who were about twenty feet apart, causing thirty people to endure their stupid argument over what multiple to use when they could’ve just quietly discussed at one or another’s desk.  When in doubt, walk over and talk to the person.  Better yet – email!  (I always tried to minimize the actual human interaction to the extent possible – less chance of getting the flu.)

This, on the other hand, might be you - if you're lucky.
You might, on the other hand, be this guy - if you work hard, apply yourself and get very, very lucky.

10.  Carry a pen and notebook with you everywhere you go –  I know you are probably thinking “this old fucker has straight lost his damn mind, pen and paper?”, but this is something that needs to be strictly adhered to.  See, when you are a junior person, people senior to you think of you as a “resource.”  That may sound okay to you, but the type of “resource” they consider you is more a fax machine or coffeemaker than an elite member of  the Army Rangers.  Consider yourself a very basic resource, like say an adding machine – all cogent thought and input comes from the user, the machine itself merely provides an orderly, legible represention of the requested information.

When senior people see you, what you think they think, and what they are actually thinking, can be quite different.

Fiction:  “Say, isn’t that Donald Markson, the bright young man who fought his way from Purdue all the way to Wall Street?  I’m gonna check in and see how he’s doing, just to make sure he’s set up and getting off on the right foot.”

Fact: “Is that fat kid the one who was in my office with those other gimp on that Sears acquires Intel pitch?  What is his name?  Why doesn’t he get a haircut?  Fuck it, I’m gonna have that bushy-headed fucker go through every retail or semi M&A proxy from the last ten years and conduct a synergy analysis as part of my unrequested followup materials package.”

Translation: On your way from your desk to the printer, you can expect 3-4 people to stop you and ask you to do shit for them.  You won’t remember it all, and if you don’t carry around something to write everything down, you will be fucked.  Burning bridges before you even get started is poor strategy.  I recommend a small notebook and a Zebra pen – thank me later.

Damn, I’m rambling again, this is too long.  Gotta break it off, guess there will be a lesson #3 at some point.  Feel free to fire in your own thoughts on office do’s and don’ts.



Office Etiquette 101

Office Etiquette 101

I saw some interns ringing the opening bell for the NYSE the other day – I completely forgot it’s intern season, seeing as the goliath that is is run by only Chilly.  No interns.  It’s pretty sad, actually, because I loved intern season.  As a green associate at TARP BANK I, it was great having interns because they served as additional reinforcements to do the idiotic tasks required by the retarded senior bankers.  Lots of research project type stuff.  At TARP BANK II, I got more involved on the hazing side of things, so it was more of a personal enjoyment type scenario.

Anyway, I used to help these newbies understand a few things about how the cubicle world works for their first few days on the job.  While this stuff has a bit of a banking tilt to it, I believe it translates to practically any work environment, such as consulting, forensic sciencing or coal mining.  Feel free to add anything I’ve missed in the comments below.

How to Not Be Hated By Everyone In Your Office

1.  Turn off your fucking computer speakers – Do you hear that “ding” sound every time you enter an incorrect formula in excel?  No, you don’t hear it?  Well, you apparently don’t have the well-trained ear of a seasoned banker.  Those fucking dings haunt my nightmares.  They are almost as bad as the dreaded extra space in a line of text that is client-bound.

Turn off the speakers – we don’t need to hear the dings, the ESPN video commentary that you get when just trying to get a simple recap of the Braves game, or the audio from that hilarious “awesome beer pong shots” video on YouTube.

2.  Don’t even think of turning on some music – Being new, I know you want to show how cool you are by making your indie music preferences known to all by plugging in your iPod speakers.  (Heaven forbid if you even consider doing this before 8:00 PM – the penalty for that shit is death)  Great, everyone else who is stuck in the office gets to hear your awesome playlists.

Reaction you think will happen – “Man, Wilco really is more than just a bunch of sterling reviews, this new kid is allright!”

Reaction that actually happens – “Whose fucking music is that?  That new fucker??  Goddam I should go rip his throat out!  I can’t get a return greater than 3.0% at anything less than 25.0 DEBT/EBITDA for a pitch due tomorrow AND I have to listen to some fucking retards whine about how tough life is on a bus?  No way is this kid getting a full-time offer.  He’s done.  And I’m going to make sure he gets staffed with Dr. Urgency all summer.”

3.  Be a responsible printer user – I could without question write a 300 page treatise on printer etiquette alone, but my editor (a bottle of Menage) has asked that I be brief.  So, a few key points:

Don’t print 10-K’s, 10-Q’s or other absurdly long documents on local printers – send that shit down to the print shop and have it double-sided and bound.  That way you might actually be able to, you know, use the fucking thing rather than having a 600 page slab that a binder clip can barely corral and that you cannot navigate through with any real purpose.

Seriously, these printers suck, DON”T PUT SUPER-LONG SHIT IN THEM.  They will break down, causing everyone who uses that particular printer to have to move to another printer.  This printer migration is basically what caused the beef in Darfur, so heed my words.

Put paper IN the printer periodically. I know these appear to be magical machines that churn out endless streams of documents, but do you see those huge stacks of reams of white paper sitting next to the printer?  Sometimes the printer actually disburses all the blank pages in its innards – someone has to put some of those reams of paper inside the printer for it to continue its magical journey of helpfulness.  Yes, you have to first remove the external wrapping from the paper reams, then you open one of the trays that make up the bowels of the mythical beast.  Don’t forget to shut the bowel door.

Don’t put in enough paper to do only your fucking job! Too many times in my unfulfilling, unsuccessful career I walked over to a printer that was completely out of paper before my job even started.  Couldn’t even print one page.  Sure, this could be just a coincidence, but most likely the bastard before me realized the printer was empty, but only had two pages left to print, so he/she put exactly two lingering blank pages in.  Again, death is a reasonable punishment here.

If you are the most junior person, and you are near the printer, it becomes partially your responsibility. I know that sounds idiotic, but everyone who has a problem with the printer will ask you about it.  “Is this thing jammed?”  “Does double-sided work on this one?”  All kinds of stupid shit.  So when you are junior, and are using that printer, take an extra two seconds to make sure there’s paper in it, and call the tech guys whenever it’s out of ink, jammed, or whatnot.  That’s your job.

(It could be worse – you could be seated near the fucking Bloomberg.  That was my curse for three years; ten people per day would ask me about obscure keystrokes required to attain obscure information.  Bankers don’t even use Bloomberg all that much!  Except for retard Directors who want to pretend they are digging deep for crucial information that they can leverage at their next important meeting – they are invariably just checking stock prices that they could just as easily check on Yahoo! Finance.  Oh, and where do you find LIBOR on Bloomberg?  BBAM, Go.  You’re welcome, now stop asking me shit like that.)

An all-too-common sight in any office environment
An all-too-common sight in any office environment

4.  Shut the hell up while on the elevator –  You’re young, possibly naive, and maybe even excited about your new job.  You are amped up to tell your newfound buddies all about the cool profiles you get to do on all the Defense & Aerospace companies that could potentially utilize ShamWow technology in their businesses.  Please, save all the loud talking and laughing for when you are out of the elevator, no one needs to hear it.  Consider the other passengers are likely either: 1) Enjoying the last few moments of relative solitude before returning to their personal pea-green carpeted house of horrors, or 2) Trying to enjoy a few minutes in their happy places as they run out for the only thing they truly have any ownership of: their lunch destination. (Don’t worry, these poor souls are rushing back with a to-go order so they can listen to the replay of an earnings call that their boss requested they listen to, as opposed to reading the word-for-word transcript.)

5.  Actually, shut the hell up in general.  Then, when asked to speak, know some fucking answers and offer them confidently. This probably goes back to my southern upbringing (“kids should be seen and not heard” or “kids should not speak until spoken to” or “I will hit you in the head with this brush if you don’t shut up about going to get an ICEE”) but there is a lot of downside to being too talkative.  Yes, in banking specifically there is also downside to being too quiet (never from me though, in my opinion quietness is next to cleanliness, which is alongside godliness), but as a very new person it’s best to shroud yourself in mystery.  Being the quiet guy/girl who knows all the answers is far superior to being the frat guy from the Big Ten who has already proven himself an idiot by talking about football way too much with people who are only familiar with squash and Hamptons summer rental pricing.

6.  Speaking of shutting the hell up, watch what you say on the phone.  It’s a cube, basically everyone can hear your dumb ass! Some interns/new folks actually believe their cubicles to be offices, complete with imaginary doors and windows.  Those aren’t imaginary windows – that’s just fucking air, which is a great medium for transporting the idiocies that are coming out of your mouth as you wait for your $60 of Seamlessweb to materialize.  Everyone on the floor can hear you talking to your boys at Iowa State about how you are going to parlay this banking gig into a job at Duquesne after one year (you aren’t).  And about how many girls you are going to score when you go back for homecoming (you won’t, and FYI – going back for homecoming, etc is mega-lame your first year out of school.  Man up and let it go.)

Man, this is getting long and I’m just getting started….will have to do a part II (and maybe part XXILLVXLV) as wanted to get something posted before noon…I’m not sure what’s going on with the font here, looks to have magically changed to Arial.  Ironically, one of the big no-no’s in banking was to have Arial text.  Arial was for Excel only, text was all about TNR.  Fuck it, I’m out of that world, I’m gonna let my Arial flag fly.

Part II coming – and let’s hear your thoughts on the topic!  Consider this our chance to make the world a better place,