A Different Direction
One trading desk took me to New York. I’d never flown business class before and it was a pleasure, except for having to do some work on the flight as it seemed to be expected by the trader. We did a few days’ negotiations with an enormously fat man and his goatee beard. This was hard work, mainly because it was quite a dull transaction. The evenings were filled with expensive meals and hard drinking sessions until 4 a.m. Then a full day’s meeting, followed by more drinking. After several days of this, the trader and I met up with the client’s lawyer and drove to their offices in a black stretch limousine.
After more meetings, I had to return to England and left the trader there for more negotiations. This time, I was met by a Chinese driver who couldn’t speak English and drove a beat-up old yellow taxi. The situation reminded me of a cartoon I once saw where someone polished the front of his shoes but not the back. When another person asked why, the reply was because he cared what people thought of him when he approached, but wasn’t bothered what they thought when he left. This was a bit like that, except they cared what the trader thought of them and weren’t bothered about me. It was a certainty the limousine was laid on purely for the trader’s benefit. I was just pleased to leave them all behind and get back to relative normality.
Then another trading desk took me to Hong Kong in order to meet clients. The flight was even better because I flew alone to meet a marketer who was already out there. This time, I could dispense with doing any work and settled down to watch films and have a good sleep in the enormous, reclining seats in business class. The trip got even better after I arrived because most of the meetings were cancelled so, apart from maintaining my London work remotely, I spent time going to the gym and sauna at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I wandered around the busy Hong Kong streets, taking in the sights and sounds in the heat of the day.
Back in London, things were always busy. Whilst my office hours weren’t as bad as they could have been, I regularly worked from home in the evening after a full day in the office. I tended to be conscientious to the extent of working during my holidays. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to be on conference calls at the edge of a steam railway station car park, by a lake, a forest or just walking home.
Whilst I was doing well at BigShots, I was aware my legal experience was limited to barristers’ chambers and banks. It may be difficult to achieve, but I decided it was time to leap into the unknown and apply for jobs in law firms. I had heard the hours were even more brutal there, but it should develop my skills as a lawyer.