Landon wished me well. We shook hands, and he headed off in the other direction. I went back up to my desk on the trading floor at 120 Fleet Street. ——— The op-ed was finally scheduled, for Wednesday, March 14. I edited it up until the very last minute. It was fact-checked thoroughly, and I was proud of what would be published. On Saturday the tenth, I went in to the office at around 8:00 P.M. to clean out my desk. I’d specifically chosen a Saturday night because I knew there wouldn’t be many people around. This was a firm that had been my entire working life, and I didn’t want to rush out of there. I wanted to take my time packing up my belongings, reminiscing a little bit about my career. The trading floor was empty; it was just me and a security guard. Most of the lights were off, for energy conservation, as was the air-conditioning. It was hot and stuffy. I sat at my desk, rolled up my sleeves, and took off my watch. I
had a few bites of a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish I’d picked up around the corner. Then I started clearing out my belongings. I saw the deal toy for the Turkish communications company and the button Rudy cut off my shirt after my first trade. I thought of my days with Corey and all he’d taught me about the business and how to be a person of integrity. I found the dusty picture book from my summer internship: out of the seventy-five who started at Goldman in that summer of 2000, there were only seven of us left. I packed an old Springbok rugby ball, and the cricket ball I used to toss around the trading floor in New York during the old days with Daffey. It occurred to me again just how much the tone and the culture of the place had changed in the twelve years that began with my first day in the Open Meeting. For the next four hours, I sat, alone and utterly calm, in the midst of the eerily quiet floor—no traders shouting, no phone lines ringing—carefully listing everything I needed to do to make my departure at midday on Tuesday as quick and unobtrusive as possible. I was planning to fly back to New York, to begin the next chapter of my life, whatever it might be. When I walked out the door, I wanted the break to be as clean as possible. I wanted my desk empty of personal effects. I wanted to leave the office with no i undotted, no t uncrossed. Finally, a little after midnight, early on Sunday morning, I logged out of my computer, took my backpack and a small box that contained a decade’s worth of memories, and left. Goldman would later tell me they had surveillance video of me walking out the front lobby with my box and backpack. They thought I had larceny in my heart, when all I had was freedom.
Afterword I landed in New York at JFK International close to midnight on the day the op-ed was published. My picture had been all over the place, and I wasn’t sure if people would recognize me, so—perhaps stupidly—I wore a makeshift disguise: a dark brown straw fedora and an unshaven beard. I headed straight for Phil’s place on Seventy-Ninth Street and Third Avenue. Phil had arranged a blow-up mattress for me to sleep on, and said I should come straight over when I landed.
- Fall '19
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