I worked in the wire room on the 13th floor.
The 13th was where all the teletype machines that sent and
received the orders were, along with the bond traders and the high end
institutional traders. My part was
working in the tiny newsroom. My boss
was Richie, a sixteen year old high school dropout from Arthur Avenue in the
Bronx…..hard core Italian all the way. He took me up to Arthur Ave after work one day.....and stole a car to do it. Cheaper and faster.
In the news room we had a Dow Jones teletype machine and an
AP machine. Our job was to watch the news
come over the teletype. Every half hour we typed up a short news bulletin. We had a big off-set printer to run off the
bulletins and a huge pneumatic tube delivery system. The tubes went directly into every office in
the building, including even the bond guys ten feet away from us.
Because we were on deck every half hour from opening to
closing, we were allowed special dining privileges in the company cafeteria. We got free food, and we could load up as
much as we wanted of anything we wanted. We had to either inhale it in 20 minutes, or
bring it back up to the news room.
The cafeteria was on the ninth floor, and I am sure nothing
like it exists today…..outside of Google or eBay. They had full time chefs and waitresses and a
wide selection of classic New York City food.
Best of all, were allowed anything we wanted to drink, including the
tiny bottles of concentrated Welch’s grape juice….an big status symbol for a 15
year old. Even then they cost at least
fifty cents or a buck….a small fortune if your take home was $64.50 a week.
The 12th floor was heaven to a 15 year old Irish
kid from Jersey: the International department.
The traders here had even better suits than the Institutional guys on 13……and
they had drop dead gorgeous secretaries and assistants. Model gorgeous. In fact, one of my fellow interns back in the
day was a gap toothed girl from Florida who became a famous super model in
short order. The International department
for some reason did not have tubes, or the girls wouldn’t use them, so Richie
and I fought over who got to hand deliver the news bulletins. I was always
almost on the point of trying out my high school French on the beautiful French
assistant, but could barely croak even in English. She was a goddess.
My job nowadays would be done by everyone’s cellphone
subscription to Bloomberg, but this was the heyday of paper. The million dollar checks that settled trades
between different firms and customers were even hand carried from office to
office. The P&S (Purchase and Sales)
department was on the 10th floor and was the destination of the
couriers. In those days the couriers
were always old, Eastern European and shabby looking. No such thing as superfit bike messengers.
On the day in question I got the early lunch shift and raced
down to the 9th floor for some New York chow mein and Welch’s. I inhaled my food, got back in the elevator
and punched in 13. Their was a guy
already in the car. My co-passenger was an old, short, fat Russian guy…..obviously
a courier with his crappy briefcase and ruined shoes. It was humid and rainy out and the guy’s old
wool overcoat reeked like dead wet sheepdogs.
Dandruff fell in drifts out of his oiled up hair. Worst of all, he had a soggy recently
extinguished cigar sticking out the side of his mouth that smelled like burnt
hair. He mumbled something like “Hello!”
and his sour breath drove me to the far corner of the car. He had punched in 10 for P&S, so I only
had one floor to ride with him. Thank God.
Up we went to 10. The
door opened and the guy made a move for the door. He paused for a second, took out his cigar,
smiled and let rip a huge, wet fart. It
was massive. Out he went, and the doors closed.
I shrank into my corner….stunned.
Up I went towards 13, safety and fresh air. No such luck. The elevator stopped at 11 while
I was still reeling. The door opened…..and
Voila! Twenty-one year old Lauren
Hutton, the French assistant and another of their model perfect girlfriends
stood in the door. I was trapped alone with
the fart, the burnt hair, the B.O. and the sopping dead sheepdogs.
The girls came in, pushed 12, and literally staggered when
they hit the stench. They glanced at me,
and all I could do was cringe in my corner.
What could I say? “C’etait pas
moi!” “It was a Russian guy!” There was nothing I could do or say. I was ruined. At 15, my life was over.
The girls exchanged looks and literally bolted from the car
The rest of the summer Richie made me do all the deliveries
to International. Every time I approached
the desk of one of the girls…..or their friends (the word was out)…..they would
push back their chairs as far as they would go and look away. Stinky is here.
Lauren left mid-summer and eventually went on to be the
girlfriend of Peter Revson of Revlon fame (who she probably met on the 12th
floor) and was off and running on a fabulous career. She is still around and looking
I bet if I met her today I would still turn
bright red and cringe. Heck, I am
cringing as I type this!