Archive for July 3rd, 2013


Before the train stopped at the platform he was visible.  At a distance he looked like a dandy –  slicked back hair and a full-sized umbrella firmly planted at his side as though it were a gentleman’s cane.  His posture was precise as he waited for the doors to open.


When he sat he placed the curled handle of his umbrella over the partition next to his seat and on his lap he placed an old  canvas gym bag, beige with brown leather trim.  It was the kind of bag that you’d have seen being carried in New York in the late 1990s.  It looked as if he had carried it around since then or if had been inherited from the estate of a favorite uncle.  It had sentimental value or he wouldn’t have carried it.


His navy-blue blazer was not purchased at the same time as his dark grey slacks.  From a distance they appeared to be the same color but they were not and even the worst sales clerk would not have let this go unnoticed.


The pin stripped shirt did not have french cuffs.  His oxford  shoes were buffed but where not of fine leather nor did they have leather soles.  Roman numerals marched around the face of his watch though its face was larger than it should have been and thus, not even a knock-off from Canal Street but something even less expensive.


From his bag he extracted a Blackberry – the final clue that this man was trying to appear impressive and knowledgeable.  He scrolled through a list of messages.  He was putting on a show of some sort, not for anyone on the train, but for the people he was about to see at his destination.


If he worked at a desk he’d only be seen from the waist up and under these conditions he’d appear almost perfect.  Respectable.  Staid, even.  Though even with a desk job you have to stand to greet people.  If he worked behind a counter his non-matching slacks might go unnoticed simply because of the added distance.


He didn’t work at a start-up company because guys at start-ups wear jeans.  He wasn’t in high-tech because guys in tech don’t wear navy blue blazers.  He wasn’t in finance, as the men in finance here wear only the finest suits.  He may have been in commodities, which would explain the canvas bag bursting at the seams, but he looked a bit old for a commodities trader and commodities traders don’t have to impress the public.


This man’s job was to impress people who were slightly below his social rank and to inspire their confidence.  He dressed like the kind of man who would try to sell you an over-priced mattress pad for the sake of a slight bump in his commission check.  The look on his face said that this was his last chance.




Read Full Post »