In Other Words: 'I work for George'
Last week, I attended a holiday office party with my friend, Jim, a securities analyst with a large investment firm.
"I'll sneak you in," Jim said. "See how the big shots celebrate. They'll all be too gassed to notice you don't work here."
Being a writer who is holed up all day, I was anxious to see how the "real world" celebrated the holidays.
"What if someone asks who I am?"
"Just say you work for George," he said.
With some trepidation, I agreed to go.
George, I soon learned, was the name of the top three execs from the fourth, fifth and sixth floors. Half the people in the place worked for a George. I poured myself a glass of wine and tried looking inconspicuous. I hovered around a desk with a Bob Dylan sign: "Money doesn't talk -- it swears."
"Mingle," Jim whispered. "Who knows, you might meet someone interesting."
One fact was certain: all these folks might be individually engaging, but standing there collectively with mistletoe dangling from their ears, they looked rather pathetic.
A woman in a mini-skirt sauntered by holding a glass of champagne in one hand, hors d'oeuvre in the other. She offered me a bite. "It's pâte made from wild goose livers. Celia in Accounts Payable brought it in this morning."
I took an obligatory nibble.
"Do I know you?" she asked.
"I work for George," I said.
"Me, too. George on the fourth floor or George on the fifth floor?
"George on the sixth floor," I smiled.
I was starting to catch on. Jim winked approvingly from across the room.
A corporate type tapped me on the shoulder. "I know all the women around these parts, and you're new," he slurred. "You took over what's-her-face's position. Don't tell me, I know. You work for..."
"George," I said. "I work for George."
I sipped my wine, feeling smug. Jim would be pleased. I was definitely holding my own with the office crowd.
During the next hour, I met inside traders, analysts and portfolio managers. I was asked to do lunch, do drinks, do dinner. My "to do" list could be filled right through March.
"So, how's it going?" Jim checked on me every 20 minutes.
"I'm a regular one-of-the-guys," I said. I'm having drinks tomorrow with Evan somebody from the fourth floor.
Jim nodded. "Evan's a happening guy -- he's going places. Works for George. He's a real team player who's up to speed. Wouldn't surprise me if Evan were sitting in old George's chair in a few years. He's a good guy to know. He's on the inside track -- a real fast runner."
Evan's resume clearly depicted Olympic marathon material.
During the course of the evening, I learned about "crunching the numbers," "acid players," the "upside/downside," and "poison pills." I was told that "corporate raiders" steal companies and the "white knights" save them. Here were people on the fast track, who had power lunches and made million-dollar deals over drinks. My idea of a power lunch was brown bagging it on a park bench.
A man with graying temples and a cultured southern drawl joined me at the bar. Surely, he was one of the "White Knights."
"What do you think of the party?" he asked.
"It's a hoot," I said.
"What do you do?"
"I write," I stammered.
"For whom do you write?"
"George," I said. "George on the sixth floor."
He extended his arm, and gave me a hearty handshake. "I'm George on the sixth floor. You must be new. Welcome aboard."
All the way home only one question ran through my head: If I played my cards right, would George the sixth let me stay aboard?
Judith Marks-White is a Westport writer, and her "In Other Words" appears every other Friday. She can be reached at email@example.com or at www.judithmarks-white.com.