I had a feeling this was not going to be a typical first day on the job. For starters, my boss encouraged me to come in early, so that he could “show me around”. In the financial services industry, the work day revolves around the Stock Market, which opens at 9:30. I came in at 8.
My boss was already there waiting for me in his spacious, ornate corner office. It must be nice, I thought, knowing that I would be in a cramped cubicle on a busy floor. A few other people were milling in the lobby outside his office. They weren’t particularly friendly, and their expensive suits told me that they were important people.
As a unique signing bonus, I was granted $10,000 worth of a special company stock. This particular stock was named after my new boss. While I commuted into the office on the train, I checked on the stock price and noted that it was listed as “on hold”. I thought this might be the case because I had just started, but when I mentioned it to my boss, he was clearly alarmed.
He quickly logged on to a website to confirm for himself, and then slammed his fist against his desk.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m going to have to ask you to wait in the lobby.”
The men who were waiting outside his office walked in, and the door closed behind them. An “animated discussion” ensued.
Given my unexpected spare time, I looked for news about the company on my phone. Trading on this particular stock had been suspended for unspecified reasons, and the company itself – based upon a tip from an anonymous source – was about to be investigated for “financial malfeasance”.
The well-dressed men exited the office in a huff. My boss had tears in his eyes and was visibly flustered.
“I just got divorced,” he explained, “and my ex-wife’s family is trying to shut me down.”
I tried to be supportive, but I what I really wanted to know was if I still had a job.
“It’s all lost,” he said, staring at a corner of the tall wooden ceiling.