The RIF Monster
I mentioned that my first project had been
controversial in the IT department. The thing is, at
my previous job I really hit the ground running. On day
one I saved them from purchasing a software license
that was going to cost more than my salary for
I convinced them we could use an open-source version
of the same software without paying the vendor
anything. I had the proof-of-concept up that same
day. They loved me instantly for that. From there I
went on to take over the whole project. That was my
model for how to start a job.
I walked into the bank intending to do more or less
the same thing. But banks are different. I came to
them proposing a new framework for analytics apps to
"complement the existing standard."
The organization reacted to my presence in
much the same way as the Perfect Beach. The managers
were the bees trying to take my juicy project away.
The org-chart was the poison ivy keeping me contained
in my designated area. The standards were the dirty
water that could solve my problem but not really.
And my direct exposure to the desk, while coveted,
could easily become a source of danger, in much the
same way as the late-summer sun.
So my influence was strictly contained to the project
I was working on, but I was permitted to proceed with
my work. I kept deploying my own novel solutions, but
I didn't try to promote them to a wider audience
I was learning how to survive.
Still, I was having the feeling that my career on
Wall Street would be a short one. I had revealed my
ambition in a pretty careless way, and I was certain
they would let me go at the first opportunity.
Investment firms regularly cull the least-favored
tier of employees in annual or semi-annual events
known as RIFs. It stands for "Reduction In Force."
I imagined the RIF monster as a giant, flying beast,
constantly circling above us, on the lookout for
anyone who poked their head up too much.
But the infamous RIF monster came and went and
somehow failed to take me. Then came bonus season,
and I expected to get nothing as a less-expensive way
of telling me to fuck off. They were known to do that
But after all of that fear, when "comp day" came I
was shocked to receive the "star" bonus. While it was
a tiny squirt of money by Wall Street standards and
headlines, it was huge to me. More importantly, it
had meaning; that my career there was not over. They
still wanted me in spite of my arrogance.
I felt relief.
One day I was scared for my job and looking for the
nearest exit. The next day I was feeling like some
kind of big shot. I felt like I had finally found my
perfect spot in the sun. Like capitalism loved me in
a way that nature never would.
And I finally felt like I could love capitalism back.