Saturday, July 16, 2005

Fruit of the poisonous bush

I work within spitting distance of a prominent financial institution. Every day, I see its legions of bankers in business casual flood and then abandon the neighborhood. They represent a carefully calibrated mix of ethnicities and nationalities, yet they all dress exactly alike, to the point where you have to wonder if Brooks Brothers had that damn shirt on special and they all went shopping the same weekend. Even the women are all wearing identical dress shirts and pants, apparently skirts are not business casual enough for this fine place of business. (Although I do remember hearing that for interviews in business, skirt suits are verboten because they don't want to be accused of hiring you for your legs. In law, however, we were told to wear skirt suits to interviews because they are, I guess, totally open to hiring you for your legs - uh, so where's my job, guys? - but that's perhaps another story entirely.)

Besides the varying shades of blue and grey biz casual, the other two things these young whippersnappers have in common are a) their attitudes, and b) their Blackberries. These two are often encountered simultaneously. Yesterday as I was walking to my boyfriend's apartment from work, I saw a smug banker chick looking self-importantly at her Blackberry as she crossed the street. In her total absorption, she narrowly missed getting hit by a bus. I was awfully tempted not to yell, "Look out!" but I did anyway because I'm just nice like that.

I've been able to discern two distinct types of Blackberry users. First, there are people like my friend R. He works for another (more prominent) financial institution and regards his Blackberry with a mixture of annoyance and wariness. He does not take it out while walking down the street and smirking. Rather, when it goes off, he apologizes before taking it out and examining what his greedy bosses want and whether he can blow it off or not. Second, there are people like the bankers next door. They walk down the street in packs, all consulting the Blackberry as though it were an oracle telling them that they were about to inherit $5 million from an uncle they had never heard of. They smile at it, they finger it lovingly while it is clipped to their belts, and they probably kiss it goodnight. They don't seem to understand that, while it is a status symbol telling the public, "I am indispensable and practically saving lives here," it is also just another leash and that there are hordes of other slaves just waiting in the wings for them to fuck up so they can take their Blackberry from them at a lower salary. A second reason it's dumb to be so excited about it is that it just encourages your juvenile friends to send you inappropriate personal e-mails, since you can be reached at all times, and it's easy to forget that someone, somewhere is reading your e-mail and laughing at you, not with you.

Luckily, given my prospective unemployment, Blackberries are the last thing I need to worry about. Unless, of course, I end up becoming a migrant worker.

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