Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Smell of Commerce in the Morning

Having once possessed an actual paying job, I must say: I miss capitalism.  I know it's not a popular notion right now, but it's true.  Sitting within a stone's throw of the head corporate honchos, I often had a unique sideline view of year-end earnings, meetings with rating agencies, and the whispered hints of pending mergers and acquisitions.

Of course at the time, I was bored senseless. 

Don't get me wrong, I loved my actual job.  But I worked in insurance.  Insurance.  No little girl goes to bed at night secretly hoping to land that big job at AIG.  I would ask all potential English majors to heed my warning:  English is not a practical major.  Minor?  Yes.  You'll be able to jot off a stellar memo.  But as a major?  You'll be the red-headed stepchild in any field outside of academia. 

Just saying.

It took the monotony of 3 kids in 3 years to help me appreciate the excitement of American capitalism.  Sure, a lot of  Fortune 500 companies botched it over the last 5 years, but insurance companies have pretty much held their own.  I'm sure having an army of actuaries drawing up models and financial forecasts didn't hurt. 

The pinnacle of my career came when one of the companies I worked for went public on the New York Stock Exchange. I got to witness first hand the opening bell at the epicenter of global capitalism. Prior to that day, I hadn't been that enthralled with business as a whole. I secretly planned to go back for my PhD in something rewarding...like 18th Century English Romanticism.

Yet that day.  That day.  I got goosebumps watching Wall Street in action.  Tiny little Maria Baritromo stomped across the trading floor scaring the dickens out of anyone who crossed her path.  Traders frantically signaled to each other about what, I still don't know.  The energy was palpable.  It was incredible. 

 At the end of it all, representatives from my company all received an NYSE medal. My kids recently found it in a box and were very intrigued. They wanted to know what NYSE stood for and if they could use "the coin" to buy some gum.  I told them it was a very special medal that I got all the way in New York from a short, bald man named Dick Grasso. 

"You only made one quarter, mommy? You should have gotten a different job. Maybe then we'd at least have a Wii."

While I may not have always appreciated the spirit of free enterprise back in the day, I embrace it now.  It was such a thrilling ride compared to pairing hundreds of faded socks together week after week, year after year.

It is with this same entrepreneurial spirit I will begin plotting my return to capitalism.   I have been carefully biding my time and waiting for just the right moment.  That time is now.  It has been 4 long years since I've conducted a garage sale.  I was stymied by the obvious liability issues associated with my cracked-up driveway.  With new concrete and a smooth exterior, there is nothing to stop me.  Except a Chicago garage sale permit and perfunctory ads in The Beverly Review

Thank you America for affording me this opportunity to hock old baby bouncers and outgrown toys.  Thank you for giving me a chance to rise through the ranks and earn a little extra for all these piano and violin lessons.  God bless you America for being that last great hope, that beacon in the sky. 

At long last I will again experience the smell of commerce in the morning.  It may not be the New York Stock Exchange, but it's all I got.


  1. I know I'm not supposed to be a downer, but are you really going to have a garage sale? I never understood why people put themselves through that. Random people in your yard trying to give you a quarter for something you spent $100.00 on last month. I'll pass!!

    Somebody else please write something encouraging.

  2. Hey,

    You passed 10,000 clicks!!!

  3. Mary - I still love them. I love going to garage sales, too. Last time we had one, there was a Grandma who stocked up an $100 worth of used baby stuff for her first grandchild. She was thrilled. I was glad to be of service. (: 10,000 hits! I thought I'd be happy to get 1,000 hits the first year.