Skip to main content

29 Year-Old Banker Attempts To Make Sense Of It All With Only One Hand Showing

  • Author:
  • Updated:

When one is struggling through something, trying to figure out how he got to where he stands, and the point of this called life, the best thing to do is sit down at some adorable little cafe in the West Village, not a Starbucks but one of those places that draws designs in the foam on your cappuccino and bakes its own desserts, and pleasure oneself to the sounds of one's own voice. It's a little obscene, and common decency (not to mention the law) would typically advise you to not do so in public but this is something that you can't help. You just sound so good. Of course you'd want to do you.

On a recent drizzly Sunday afternoon, a 29-year-old New York banker was sitting in a West Village cafe, eating biscotti with a mocha cappuccino and a glass of grapefruit juice. "I want to retire early and maybe do something else," he sighed.

Oh, don't you love you when you top off cliched statements with that reflective sigh thing? I bet when you paused you had a look of contemplation on your face, too.

"I had these big dreams when I was a kid to help people. But it's much harder than one might think," the young man said. "You have to do your job. You're in the Army, and they send you to Vietnam. It's not a good war, but they tell you to shoot. You shoot. It's very complicated, but people don't see that. I have a job. I tried to do that the best I could."

It is hard. You know what else is hard? You, realizing that analogy sounded even better out loud than it did in your head. Lady Gaga probably would be too, if only she were lucky enough to be a fly on the wall during this conversation.

THE HANDSOME YOUNG BANKER has olive skin and black hair, but slightly mean-looking eyes. He doesn't like working out, though he has shirtless photos of himself on Facebook. His girlfriend is three years younger. He likes The Economist and house music. He owns a few nice suits, which are Hugo Boss and were bought on sale: "I love," he said, "making good deals." He goes to private openings of meatpacking district clubs with colleagues, where they can party while talking business. Last month he saw a Lady Gaga concert with friends: "She puts on a great show, but the music is not that great."

A banker, philosopher and music critic, too? Are you about to lose it thinking of the look on mom's face when you bring home to her? This conversation is going to over in less than two minutes unless someone has some desensitizer on hand.

Early last year, after Wall Street had been brought to its knees, his bonus was only $45,000. "When you work really, really hard--my group was working from 7 to 9 every day, sometimes weekends--to be paid $150,000? I could have been making more." Friends left his bank. "At hedge funds, if you make money, you get paid."
But afterward his salary was raised to $200,000, and he was told about the $650,000 bonus he would get this year if he stayed. He did. Still, that sum didn't turn out to be what it seemed. "Every bonus I see as a jackpot. If I get it, great, if I don't ..." he said, trailing off. "I mean, you're very disappointed, yes. Imagine that happened to you."

Wimper. Don't be afraid to cry. Some of the best sex you've ever had with yourself comes with tears. Makes it that much more intense. Two kinds of release.

"There have been lots of abuses on Wall Street, but Wall Street is a lot bigger than banks. There can't be just one bouc émissaire," he said.

I see you learned at an early age that use of French terms is the ultimate panty dropper. Doesn't much help, since yours are already around your ankles but, you know, good for future reference.

Over another cappuccino, he talked about leaving to travel and start up cafes. His father is an engineer who eventually started a farm, restaurants and an oil company. "I said to myself a long time ago that the day I have enough money to work for myself, I'll stop working. I don't like working for other people."
Then he started thinking about Wall Street people who have to look at screens for 14 hours every day, and that got him wondering about people in general, especially mothers pushing each other on Black Friday to shop for Christmas presents. "It's like, really?" he said. "That's what mankind has created?"

Oh my god, yes, philosophizing about Black Friday and mankind and consumer culture, yes, yes, you're putting yourself over the edge, yes! Do it! Do it to yourself now!


Leon Cooperman's Beef With President Obama Involves An Unsolicited Copy Of His 14 Year-Old Granddaughter's Self-Published Memoirs And Not One Handwritten Thank-You Note In Return

Last November, hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman penned an "Open Letter To The President Of The United States of America," in which he detailed the many ways Barack Obama was pissing him off. The Omega Advisors founder accused the President (and his "minions") of engaging in class warfare, expressed disbelief that he could attack "capitalists who...fill store shelves at Christmas" and still sleep at night, and advised Obama to "eschew the polarizing vernacular of political militancy," lest he lose* Cooperman's vote the next year.  While LC says that he received a major outpouring of support for his words ("[he] keeps a bulging manila folder of congratulatory notes in his office"), others were less than pleased at what they saw as a guy who actually has done pretty okay under Obama lashing out because his feelings were hurt on the occasions the president was perceived to have a "tone" in his voice when discussing the mega-wealthy ("If I knew where you lived, I’d put a bomb in your car," one person wrote Cooperman to say). Similarly, Cooperman's suggestion, on at least two occasions, that America should be worried about the startling parallels between Obama's rise to power and that of Adolf Hitler,** was met with mixed reviews, including one by his wife in which she called him a "schmuck." And while some*** have found it preposterous that Cooperman would paint himself as a victim of Obama, their astonishment speaks to not knowing the whole story, i.e. exactly what this man- no, this monster- did to Leon. Last July, before he had written the letter, Cooperman was invited to the White House for a reception to honor wealthy philanthropists who had signed Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least fifty per cent of their net worth to charity. At the event, Cooperman handed the President two copies of “Inspired: My Life (So Far) in Poems,” a self-published book written by Courtney Cooperman, his fourteen-year-old granddaughter. Cooperman was surprised that the President didn’t send him a thank-you note or that Malia and Sasha Obama, for whom the books were intended as a gift and to whom Courtney wrote a separate letter, didn’t write to Courtney. (After Cooperman grumbled to a few friends, including Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, Michelle Obama did write. Booker, who was also a recipient of Courtney’s book, promptly wrote her “a very nice note,” Cooperman said.) Now do you understand? Now do you understand? Even Hitler would have sent SOMETHING. Super-Rich Irony [New Yorker] Earlier: Leon Cooperman Doesn't Like The Tone Of President Obama's Voice *Just messing about him ever being in a position to "lose" it, of course. **Settle down, he wasn't saying Obama IS Hitler, would would be biologically impossible, he was just saying Obama is the second coming of Hitler, which is something people should be aware of: “You know, the largest and greatest country in the free world put a forty-seven-year-old guy that never worked a day in his life and made him in charge of the free world,” Cooperman told the New Yorker in May. “Not totally different from taking Adolf Hitler in Germany and making him in charge of Germany because people were economically dissatisfied. Now, Obama’s not Hitler. I don’t even mean to say anything like that. But it is a question that the dissatisfaction of the populace was so great that they were willing to take a chance on an untested individual.” ***Mrs. Cooperman, for example.: She is still a liberal, a position that puts her in the minority in their social circle. “She can be a socialist because she’s married to a capitalist,” Cooperman says of his wife, who is strongly pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. She calls Todd Akin, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry “morons,” and she worries about the underclass. “I care more about the disadvantaged people of America,” she said, comparing her politics with those of her husband.