Saturday, August 22, 2009
"I Know Clever Carla From Cornell." Cinda from CitiBank With Good News On the Strivers and Their Lifespans.
I don't literally know her. But I know her type well enough to feel pity. I'm not an English post doc, but a banker of sorts. I deal with sociopaths all the time.
I follow RYS the same way that I'd witness a nineteenth century Marquesan orgy: it's a fascinating ethnography into a culture that seems a strange to me. But Carla from Cornell inspired me with enough pity that I had to get on my knees in the sand, so to speak, and write this note.
Carla's disdain for the nickel-wrapper is exactly like the hedge fund manager's contempt of the little people who actually make any organization work. Myself not included: I'm a happy middle manager who punches my clock, rides down the dinosaur at 5 pm sharp and is home in time to cook my daughter a healthy organic dinner every day. The dinner that she dumps on the floor, complaining it's not as tasty as the daycare hot dogs. Of such joys is a happy life made.
But Carla's type is the 20-something striver. Only the psychos make it though; the ones without friends, family obligations, a sense of fun or vacation time. I'm nice enough to them (might be my boss one day), but I keep as clear as I can. For their lack of soul, they will burn through a median 3 marriages, 2 kids that they never see, and will die of heart attacks at 60. But die incredibly, unimaginably rich.
Which is what I find so pitiful about Carla. She's got all the incivility and lack of introspection, but none of the earning potential. Instead, she comforts herself with her "narrow and important" field (no contradiction there: perhaps she will love reading my memos on delta hedging commodity-linked derivatives as much as I'd enjoy reading her fine work). Perhaps she just didn't understand how important it is to master math to be a proper jerkwad. A promising pillaging career ruined by an inability to invert a matrix.
So Carla wouldn't ask me for career advice, but it would be thus: be a decent human being and respectful above all. It's how to be happy and healthy. But if you must be an asshole, at least be a rich one. Otherwise, prepare for mockery.