There is a man who lives in front of the building where I work. He has been living there for well over a year. I don’t mean he’s living in a neighboring building or he lives down the block or that he lives even in something so luxurious as a cardboard box. He lives, nestled under a particular window, in front of our building.
Before we found out his real name, we had nicknamed him the Random Number Generator. He spends most of his life standing under our window and calling out various numbers. There’s really little telling if they’re actually random or not. They are staccato and orderly seeming enough, usually interspersed with the names of cities, famous personages, and government officials. The numbers may well be ZIP codes, birthdays, social security numbers, phone numbers. When working with numbers all day, this is not the most helpful auditory experience.
The man was wearing a shirt today – it was warm enough that this might be in question, though he usually has many layers on. He was napping when I saw him on my way home from work, but the blue-green logo on his shirt was unmistakable. It was a Wachovia shirt.
He’s not the kind to ask for change (indeed, very few people do within earshot of Glide since we have so many free services), but he’d only need about six bucks to get a whole share of what he was advertising. Tomorrow, it might be four and a half.
It is a symptom of the homeless that, among many other indignities, they must suffer to wear absurdity. It’s a hand-me-down lifestyle to some sort of ridiculous extreme. A waft of shirts advertising some sort of discredited diet scheme filtered through the Tenderloin a while back… it was unsettling to see peppy shirts saying “Ask me about the ____ Diet!!” on thinning homeless men. Another version wanted you to ask the wearer how they lost so many pounds.
The Random Number Generator is clearly intelligent, perhaps a bit of a conspiracy theorist, perhaps a bit of a savant. It is hard to imagine that he’s totally unaware of the state of the globe at large, or at least what the pundits believe is same. Perhaps he takes a special sweet triumphant satisfaction in wearing Wachovia’s banner on his torso, a signal of a giant Goliaths felled by the coming Davids of the poor and previously forgotten. Were he to wander down to the Financial District (he never leaves), he might give several high-class brokers a fright. Here is the harbinger of their own future. There but for the grace of luck go I.
And luck is changing.
The focus of the media during the Columbus Day Rally was not on the previous times that the market had bolted up such steep percentage precipices. It was merely on the unprecedented height of the point climb, the towering reach for four digits of movement. In the margins, it was noted that the last time this happened (percentage-wise) was in 1933. 1933 notably not known for its economic recovery and triumphant financial hope. Followed, of course, by gains in 1931, 1928, and 1932. And then Monday. What good company for projecting a joyous financial future.
No wonder it’s only taken 48 hours to give all those miraculous gains back, while keeping just a little interest. By tomorrow, it’ll all be gone again.
Last night was the full moon; tonight the Ides of October. Tomorrow it seems the hurricane’s eye will finally leave us and the storm will resume. Already the inner bands of rain have started to creep in.
A deluge of sorts is also descending on the Blue Pyramid, with the most one-day traffic since May. While parallels could be drawn to the markets see-saw peaks and valleys (and indeed, it has been a mostly down year), I’m taking it while it lasts.
Wachovia’s merging with my bank, Wells Fargo. My bank wasn’t always Wells Fargo – it used to be called Norwest. Then Wells Fargo bought Norwest and said they’d still say I’d had a checking account with them since 1997, which sounded fine to me. I liked Norwest’s color scheme better, but Wells Fargo does have a strong, rich history in the West.
Norwest’s color scheme was just like Wachovia’s, come to think of it.
Sleep well, children of the Tenderloin. All this nonsense will be over soon. Or at least different.