Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another Plick in the Wall

She's young, bright, attractive, and is working on Wall Street.

She's also Australian, and that's how I got to know Faith, the junior commodities trader.

We were lunching late at an Alphabet City restaurant, and Faith was describing her new job - only a few week's old - and her week on Wall Street. I asked about derivatives - what exactly are they, and she explained. Interesting stuff but not as interesting as her account of a recent faux pas she'd recently made at work.

Most of us can imagine how competitive life must be on "The Street". Long hours, smart and ambitious collegues, and given the current state of the economy, a level of job insecurity.

Given that, and her determination to make a good impression, plus the American work ethic and the almost Australian edict, "Thou shalt not complain about your co-workers" (Translation: Don't dob on yer mates), it should come as no surprise that Faith was horrified at what she had recently emailed to several people in her office. She'd had a hard week, working till 11:00 p.m. most nights, and so when she discovered that one of those nights had been completely unneccessary, she was justifiably annoyed.

So she emailed the co-worker who'd caused the unnecessary work, CCing the co-worker's manager, her own manager, his manager and god knows who else. "I have no intention of working to ten at night" blah blah. And she hit the send button.

Immediately she'd realised she'd done a "BAD THING". She was mortified.

Did I menton that Faith is Chinese? Well she is, and was born in China, becoming an Australian citizen in her early twenties. Her English is perfect, but she's unaware of a number of Australian and American colloquialisms, and while her 'r's don't sould like 'l's, they dont quite sound like 'r's either.

Sometimes her accent - Chinese-à la Australian is a little hard to understand, and while I got the point of her story, I was too tired and hungry to be totally absorbed in it.

We finished our meal and over the last glass of wine she told me how she'd decided to "make it better". "Don't bother", I told her. "New Yorkers are forgiving people, just ignore it".

"Oh but I already tried", she said. "I sent another email saying I was sorry to be such a plick!"

"Excuse me?" I was shocked. "Why would you say that?" "I was solly [I exaggerate] and I told them that."

Hmmm. I had my coffee while she went on about her manager calling her in to explain that everyone worked long hours and that he understood her frustration etc etc. "I told him sorry to be a plick".

Should I tell her about prick, I was wondering.

Best to just change the subject, less said et cetera. Besides she obviously didn't know the word. "Faith" I said, "just forget it. It's over. Let's talk about something else! I'm sick of the plick thing!"

She looked hurt.

"You are a loser!" she said, obviously not fully understanding the word.

"Well", I replied, "At least I don't call my boss a plick!"

She looked puzzled and asked me what was wrong with it.

I explained and she was mortified, then burst out laughing and so did I.

"I thought it was just like 'jerk'. Is jerk OK to say?" she babbled on.

We paid the bill, left the restaurant and walked through Tompkins Square Park to catch our subways. Every few minutes we'd break into fits of giggles like school-girls. November tourists stared at us. Even the drug-numbed locals emerged briefly from their lands of nod to look at the two women apparently unable even to walk in a straight line because of the laughter wracking their bodies.

"Is plick American or Australian?" Faith asked.

To rub salt into the wound I said "Both: it's the male equivalent of the C-word". "Oh no!" she screamed and shrieked hysterically, setting me off again.

We reached the subway station and parted ways, she to head west, me to head north.

"You'll be OK", I texted her. "You have a lucky star."

"Beep" went my mobile; a message appeared.

"Faith: I do have a lucky star. A crazy risk taker and geek like me. Plick it is."

I smiled to myself. Yes, that gal will do well on "The Street".

No comments:

Post a Comment