"Baby needs new shoes!" (The Tale of a Mediocre Broker)

Welcome to my life. This series loosly chronicles my beginning as a stockbroker in the mid 1990's. Had I not been there I would not have believed what went on behind closed doors of some of Wall Street's largest firms. This story is not unique, it happened everywhere, but it is my story with my own unique and crazy perspective. Happy Reading Keith A Campbell




(The tale of a Mediocre Broker)




I think I can pretty much hold my own when the water cooler banter turns to, “What did you do before coming here to work?”


My first thought is to regale my new co workers with tales of triumph and calamity in the trenches of the Stock Market. The temptation to stand tall, beat my chest and roar at the top of my lungs it too much to resist as I flash back to my days on Wall Street.


I grab the ringing phone on my desk, listen for a moment, then parrot back the message to a throng of enthusiastic stockbrokers.


Listen up guys, Jon just called from the floor. He's got fifty thousand Xircom, with a stick on the way in and a teeny on the way out.!”


Having said my piece I clamber back down off my desk and scan the computer in front of me for a clue as to what the heck Xircom is. And while I am wondering, what is a stick and a teeny? No point in asking now. To a man, every broker in the building is on the horn trying to bully their go to clients into adding yet another tech stock to their already tech heavy portfolios. And just what is a go to client?


Before making the call each and every one of us has already calculated, to the penny, how much we will make the next time we pick up a phone. Well, everyone of us except me that is. Still on my second day in the business, I have yet to figure out what Xircom's trading symbol is.


A word about computers. I am new. I get one company issue computer. The guy in the back office must be the manager, he has three company issued computers, and one personal one. They guy next to me has a respectable three.


The four computer guy from the back is yelling at me.


Hey Keith, did I just leave my palm over there?”


I look back and he is pointing to the counter to my right. All I see is an antiquated fax machine and reams of paper. No palm, no fingers- no hand at all.


The phone on my desk squawks to life, and I nearly fall out of my chair. I grab for the handset knowing that this could be a million dollar account on the other end of the line. I only manage to beat out everyone else to the phone because everyone is busy buying Xircom.


Cali Discount, this is Keith, how may I help you?”


Even the way I answer the phone shouts newbie. I have yet to adopt the rude, 'I'm too busy to deal with your piker account', phone attitude.


Don't even ask me what piker is. All I know is that it is not complimentary.


Hi Keith, what's going on with Cisco? Should I just dump it or what?”


My vote is for, 'or what?' I have no idea what Cisco is. Time to ask the masses. I stand up and yell.


Hey what's the trading symbol for Cisco?”


Someone is kind enough to fill me in.


Its CSCO. Hey do you need to know the symbol for IBM?”


Yeah, ha ha, very funny.


It's day one and I am giving out advice on a company who's Nasdaq symbol is the extent of my knowledge.


I sit back down at my single computer desk and listen in on the conversations of a cell phone carrying three computer employee of California Discount Corporation. He punches out the number of one of his best go to clients.


Hey buddy, what's goin' on?”


Everyone is Steve's buddy, even the eighty year old bond investor with no interest in trading volatile tech stocks, is his buddy.


Hey look, I just talked to our floor trader and somehow he managed to come up with five thousand more Xircom at twelve and a quarter.”


A short pause as he listens patiently...


Lets try to grab two thousand while we can,” Steve shouted to his client. That may have sounded like a question, but it was most definitely a strong suggestion, bordering on an order.


He stops for a second and looks at something on computer number two.


Nope, let's just jump in and out for a point and a half today.” he yells in response to his callers question.


He reads back the order to his client. “Okay buddy, were buying two thousand Xircom at the market. Is that correct?”


A short pause.


Alright your done at twelve and a quarter.”


I break out my calculator and shake my head. Steve just made a little over a thousand dollars with a three minute phone call.


When you get to speak in code, swear...worse than a sailor, and at the top of your lungs, while furiously gambling away other peoples money, I'd say you got a keeper.


Lunch time only furthers the circus like atmosphere. Mike has just come back from the burger place down the street, and is loaded down with fifty chicken nuggets. What the hell, I wonder, is Mike gonna do with that many nuggets. I follow him and everyone else back into the semi private kitchen where our resident clown is up to his usual antics. Gary is taking the bets as 'PJ the Clown' loosens his tie and dumps Mike's chicken nuggets into a bowl in front of him.


Can PJ eat fifty of the things in fifteen minutes? Looks impossible...but for PJ, impossible is nothing. At least that's when it comes to food that is. He manages to do it, and he even keeps them down long enough to grab a waste can to empty his stomach into.


I had no idea what a professional group of people stockbrokers are. I think I may just fit in after all.



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  • Doralynn

    July 23, 2009

    This reminds me of a frat house... especially the nuggets and the trash can. Lots of new terms for me. Sorry this is so short, but I gotta go google Xircom, and a stick and a teeny.

  • Ray

    July 28, 2009

    Hey, this was a great read, hope to see more in the future,,Ray

  • Ray

    July 28, 2009

    Still coming along, looking forward to see what happens next.d6d

  • TCA

    July 28, 2009

    Quite an Education!

  • TCA

    July 28, 2009

    Funny, but wondering what happened to the baby?

  • VSWorld

    July 29, 2009

    Awesome start for the series, bro. I've enjoyed your works of art for some time now and this one is no exception. You have an uncanny knack for humour that shines through in this post too. Keep on keeping on with the good stuff, Keith. Zack

  • Cadfael

    August 04, 2009

    Great fun Keith, shall be reading the rest shortly! It's obvious you financial gurus are all mad, but perhaps you need to be LOL



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