It was my first day as an employee of a new bank and my immediate boss had come to pick me up from the bank’s reception. I was still a young buck in my twenties and I was as nervous as you’d expect a young buck in his twenties to be on his first day in what to me at the time represented The Big Time, a real proper international private bank.
I followed my boss up a quiet staircase and as we were reaching the top I heard someone behind me shout ‘Good morning!’ My boss stopped, I stopped, we turned around and at the bottom of the staircase stood a rather cross looking roly-poly fellow looking directly at me. He shouted again, a little louder this time, ‘Good morning!'
I realized that he must have passed us on the stairs (on his way down) and said something, but due to my nervousness, I was fully concentrated on climbing the stairs without falling over, which would have resulted in my face hitting the buttocks of my new boss. As I was only two minutes into my new job, sticking my nose in the derriere of my immediate superior might have been considered a little too forward.
Later in the day, as I was doing the meet and greet tour of the trading floor, I met the roly-poly fellow again at the currency dealing desk, where he immediately proceeded to educate me that ‘in this bank we have a polite tradition of greeting each other in the morning’ and that was why he had made sure that I greeted him back. I smiled, looked at his rather portly stomach and wondered to myself how I had not noticed a man of that size pass me on the stairs.
As the weeks passed in my new job I learned from my co-workers that this currency dealer was the most hated individual in the bank and in fact it was his habit to humiliate all new employees as soon as he possibly could. To top it off, apparently he never greeted anyone in the morning.
Possessing no degree in psychology I quickly analysed the psychology of the individual and came to the conclusion that he was a typical paranoid bully, scared out of his wits by life in general and because, in his delusional mind, every person was a threat, they should all be attacked and put in their place from a position of power before they could do him harm.
When is a person at their weakest possible position at work other than in the first few days into a new job?
I’ve always liked to give pet names to people I’m in contact with so I named him Winnie-the-Pooh on account that he and Winnie shared exactly the same body type and both were equally as threatening. I also made the decision that given the opportunity and the probability that I could get away with it, I would chin him at the first opportunity. Not very gentlemanly I know, but what did you expect? I was in my 20s, had a bit of a temper and I was a banker. Enough said.
Later I came to understand that the currency dealer’s infantile behaviour could only be the result of prolonged childhood trauma probably caused by a combination of being on the receiving end of schoolyard bullying and a lack of hugs from mummy. With this in mind, now, as I look back, my opinion of the fellow has mellowed and I view him through the peaceful philosophical teachings of Mr. T: Now I simply pity the fool.
I’m not sure really, but I was reminded of Winne-the-Pooh the currency dealer when I read Lucy Kellaway’s own reminiscences of having to work with FX dealers in her article “Big Bang and financial crisis did nothing to the City bullyboys” published in the Financial Times this week.
It seems to be a job that attracts rather unlikeable individuals. Why is that?
Well, I do have my theory, but I’ll save that for the next blog post.