Search Box

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Human nature the same at Goldman

It's always gratifying to be proven right: I had guessed last May that the Goldman Sachs elevator tweeter was just making those quotes up. On May 4th, I linked some of the quotes, and said:

I highly doubt that these quotes were actually overheard in the elevator there; they sound much more like some writer's conception of how people who have successfully devoted their lives to making money must talk. I worked there for twelve years, and the people I knew there were just not this witty. Plus, anybody overheard boasting this way would probably have been fired.

Then, on May 5th, I quoted some of the funnier (harsher) things I'd actually heard while at Goldman, and added: 

I still doubt that the so-called overheard-in-the-elevator quotes are real, since most of them are more macroeconomic, so to speak, about general differences between the rich and the poor, which is generally not what Goldman workers talk about on a daily basis. They, like corporate employees everywhere, are far more likely to talk about what happened at the office that day, or how much they dislike a particular coworker.

Sure enough, this morning The NY Times revealed his identity: John Lefevre, who never worked at Goldman. All of those supposed quotes were merely the product of his fevered imagination.

The entire time I worked at Goldman I heard maybe two or three general comments about how it was better to be rich. People at Goldman, like corporate employees everywhere, just don't make the kind of sweeping pronunciamentos the infamous Tweeter attributed to them.

They were far more likely to discuss intra-office politics, or how much they resent a colleague, or the girl in another department whom they want to screw, or how much they had to drink the night before, or the stupid thing someone on their desk said that day, or their golf game, or their children, or the fortunes of the Knicks. If they were going to boast about their money, they would do it obliquely, by mentioning a vacation house they were thinking about buying, or their new car.

In other words, they talked about the same stuff, in the same way, that people at corporations everywhere do.

Conversational patterns don't suddenly change because you get a few extra bucks. And people at Goldman don't walk around thinking about how wonderful it is to be a master of the universe. Mostly they just worry about hanging onto their jobs and stew about coworkers who get paid more. 

No comments: