Friday, October 08, 2004


The covers of this book are too far apart

If you wonder why I bother to use a nom de plume and keep certain details of corporate hilarity obscure, look no further than this unfortunate young lady's blog. Her employer has suspended her for the offense of blogging, on the nominal pretext of her publishing a photograph of herself on said blog dressed in a company uniform. A lapse of good judgment to be sure, but the young lady in question has published details of various corporate hilarity that would be instantly obvious to someone with a reasonable knowledge of the situation, and as such could easily become embarassing public knowledge for the company. Of course, since said young lady's employers are in an industry that will soon be demanding massive relief from the government either in the form of Chapter 11 filings or being excused from little things like pensions, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there's a certain reasonable stewardship (pardon the expression) of information that those of us with knowledge of various hijinks have to maintain in order to protect the innocent. I wish it were as easy as Jack Webb made it seem, using the same three people in Dragnet every week for various permutations of victims and villains.

In my case, since my beat is financial services, the community is a bit more insular, and as such I edit myself carefully (of course that's when the spelling and grammar errors creep in) whenever I tell a corporate hilarity tale. There's rarely six degrees of separation in my world, it's never more than three. At one memorable Christmas dinner a few years back we were chatting with a client we called Colonel Klink (all bark, no bite; his boss, surprise of surprises was indeed saddled with the moniker of General Burkhalter, and he had the same charming "Klink, shut up" disposition. The poor slob entrusted with running the technology deployment was a deer in the headlights type who of course became Sgt. Schultz). The conversation drifted to past lives, and we asked Colonel Klink where he was prior to Stalag 13 (which of course is one of the most eminent investment institutions on Wall Street), and he mentioned that he was at another large institution (now thankfully subsumed into another Even Larger Financial Services Firm) that several friends of ours were alumni of. We dropped a couple of names, and Colonel Klink indeed knew the gentlemen, and then we asked, "Do you know A?". A being a very good client of ours, for the simple reason that this person has the definitions of micro and macro reversed. "A" does indeed have a nickname, but that nickname is well-known in the Wall Street community, and I will not use it here. However, A does have a very distinct Noo Yawk accent and way of speaking, and Colonel Klink launched into a hilarious impersonation of A, leaving all of us rolling on the floor with laughter. (I should note that I consider A a personal friend in addition to being a good client). We were convulsing over the humor when the realization suddenly hit us that things like this tend to get back to people on our beat. In vino veritas, you know. A has a big consulting budget and it wouldn't do to offend the controller of that budget.

While the nicknames may be sardonic, they do serve the purpose of both relating the story in understandable terms for the casual reader, and protecting Klink and Schultz (both of whom became personal friends as a result of that gig; Burkhalter can take care of himself quite nicely thank you, but again, no reason to offend someone who controls consulting budgets).

The young lady who got herself into a pickle with her employer did so through what might be considered an indiscretion. Woe betide me, as someone with a bit of knowledge of skeletons in the closet in certain areas if I don't show discretion in my writings.


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