Saturday, February 3, 2007

Another Story of Wall Street

I went into my colleague KL’s office last week to discuss how to advise an entity about to increase its outstanding debt from 30 billion to 90 billion over the next five years. He hemmed and hawed before arriving at some reasonably good thoughts. We agreed to convene a broader group for the broad question, then he stopped me on my way out the door he said there’s something on your pants. He asked me to turn around, and then said, “there’s hole in your pants!” I asked him what he thought I should do and he said in the near term you should tear a patch out of your cuff and glue it onto the butt. I hope our clients get better advice than this.

What I did was I went to the dry cleaners. They said they could fix it, but said I would have to take off my pants while they worked on it. They pointed to the small cubicle where I would be sitting. I asked if they took credit cards. Cash only. So I went out to get some money and something to read. Weirdly, I couldn’t find a newsstand—I work in lower Manhattan—but a Fedex Kinko’s had about 10 bookshelves of old paperbacks for sale, a few on the front step and then a few more inside. I asked the salesgirl, “what’s up with all these paperbacks?” She couldn’t make sense of my question, so I offered her my dollar and took a Ken Follette book.

It was damn good. I gave the seamstress my pants through the closed door and sat in my underpants reading. The central character was a highly intelligent postal worker who made keen observations about England’s war preparations, just by observing phenomena on the street and in the post office most of us would miss. His landlady makes a fuss over him; he’s coolly aware that she is looking for a husband. He was an interesting character, a stud, a prig, and an iceberg, with a lot going on under the surface. Soon to be revealed as a heroic spy I’m sure, but his pretext was well-drawn. A frenetic pounding on the cubicle door informed me my pants were done. I opened the door and knew that no one being there was a result of my privacy being respected. Everyone on Pearl Street could see me in my underwear, but my recently hired seamstress was hiding behind the door with my pants being offered back to me in her outstretched hands. I closed the door and inspected her work. The material is a little informal for Wall Street. I think it’s a twill, but a very soft and sleek twill from Tommy Bahama. Sweet and supple, but if you sit on your butt for 12 hours a day like Bartleby the scrivener, you will rub a hole in it eventually. I had three holes and they were all repaired with very nice work from the sewing machine. Black pants, black patches, black thread. Twenty dollars, well-spent.