On the streetcar this morning, a very obnoxious guy in his mid-to-late twenties was having a loud conversation on the phone. The first thing I heard was “Hey man, can you lend me fifteen hundred or two thousand? I need to buy some stocks but I’m flat broke right now.” He was on the other side of the streetcar, so I wasn’t intentionally trying to eavesdrop but it was hard not to hear him.
He was Italian and he had his slightly long hair greased up and slicked straight back, almost forming a mullet. He looked like a member of the Mafia with his trench coat and suit and slicked hair.
Based on his conversations, it sounded like he was a stockbroker. When the person on the other end of the phone asked him where he was, he replied “I’m on the streetcar. I didn’t have any cash for a cab, so I had to take the streetcar. I only have US $100s. He then continued to tell his buddy about how he had a crazy night the other night and didn’t get home until 5:30AM. He ended up at For Your Eyes only (strip club) and ended up taking 2 girls back to his buddy’s place. He couldn’t wake up in the morning to get to work, so he missed the morning at work.
In my days in Toronto, I’ve met several stockbrokers who make a ton of cash. Most of these guys are raking in 400,000 a year and up, some of them over a million. But they blow all their money on living the lifestyle, and a large portion of them are heavily into Cocaine and other drugs. They live the lifestyle, but they always want more. It’s still never enough. Thousands of dollars get blown at the strip clubs, but they’re never happy. Sometimes when you’re younger and less mature, you crave that lifestyle because you think about how fun it would be. I think the novelty would probably wear off after 6 months and you’d probably be more conducive to depression. I find that people who fall into this trap bring everyone else around them down with them and eventually nobody wants to be around you anymore. I’ve seen the opposite effect as well, but I think the majority of people fall into the trap.
What is the moral to the story? Money can be the devil if you let it control you.
On a side note, I walked home from work yesterday and it only took 25 minutes. So I’m still close enough to downtown which is a welcome realization.
Hahaha … you work for a bank. You should be used to this sort of crap by now.
I think that you are mostly correct except that there is a bit more to it than that.
My perspective is that these conspicuous consumption types do this for two reasons.
1. Traders are typically adrenaline junkies but not of the physical type. They get off on the risk/reward factor of trading. They struggle with what zoologist Desmond Morris calls the Stimulus Struggle. Basically, without the constant flash and zoom of trading or fast living they don’t know what to do with themselves.
2. Just because you know how to make a buck doesn’t mean you know what to do with it. Many people who finally “make it” in the financial services industry came from nothing. The flash and pomp of it all can be quite overwhelming when, just a few years back you were getting by on Mac and Cheese to feed yourself through Uni. That becomes especially easy when surrounded by other dick swinging commandos on the trade floor that are more than happy to show you the ropes of this fabulous new lifestyle.
Its pretty easy to be seduced by having an 8 Ball of coke and a new pretty woman on your arm for any given evening while you get ushered in to any number of high end nightclubs on a daily basis.
These dudes think that they are living the high life. And they are. The problem with that is that the honeymoon ends and pretty soon they will realize that the party is over when they blew 1/4 mill last year on partying and all the new friends, women and drugs are gone when the cash runs out.
Some revolve in this cycle, some wise up. I have seen this happen many, many times.
Anyway, nice to see your still around blogging.