Monday, August 13, 2007

A farewell

From the outside looking in, banks may seem like massive, impenetrable structures without any of the concerns us mortals face. But like everything in this increasingly interconnected world, they sometimes face their own struggles to survive. Little did I know, when I started this journal, that the bank I worked for would barely outlast my own temporary employment within its grand halls.

ABN AMRO Bank N.V., one of the most internationally recognized Dutch companies, and one of its oldest and biggest banks, is currently set to enter a merger that will see the company effectively disappear - either as a junior partner to Barclays, or broken into pieces and distributed to a consortium composed of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Spain's Santander Bank and the Belgian-Dutch bank Fortis. Either way, the green and yellow shield of ABN AMRO will disappear forever, and many of my former colleagues will be made redundant.

As for me, I stopped keeping this journal because I left Amsterdam and moved abroad. My time as a corporate lackey is over, for now. If you peruse The money tower blues and find anything you like, by all means search out my new online location. Catch me if you can.

Green Ghost

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Company hierarchy

Courtesy Hippiechyck.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Plans for the future

The scene: a pathway along a canal on the outskirts of a mid-sized European city; trees overhanging the water, ducks paddling along peacefully. A two-year-old scampers through the underbrush along the path, discovering new things with each step.

Wife (hopeful circumvention): "Nice houses along here."

Husband (lost in thought): "Mmm."

Wife (wishful thinking): "Would be nice to have a house like that."

Husband (passive agreement): "Mmm."

Wife (innocent query): "When will we be able to afford one of those?"

The husband snaps to attention and looks at the millions of euros of real estate on the other side of the canal.

Husband (freelance writer/editor, soon to be re-unemployed): "Uh, never."

Wife (evident disappointment, quite possibly re-thinking life choices): "Oh."

The two-year-old emerges from behind a bush to chase some birds. He doesn't get very close before they fly off.

Husband: "You're not going to catch those birds, sweetie. Life's hard that way."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Quip as artform, IV

Post-quip contemplation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

They really do the golfing thing

Reality always kicks harder than fiction, doesn't it?

I was called to an informal meeting in the office of one of the bank's senior department heads. He was a tall man in his 40s, young for the position. He gave a relatively short but serious speech about some of the problems the bank faces. As always when someone in a suit starts talking to other people in suits, I lost focus after 35 seconds and my mind and eyeballs started to wander.

The big wrap-around view from the corner office certainly was inviting, but I thought staring straight out the window would be a little obvious. Instead I kept my eyes pointed downward. This caused me to notice a golf putter propped against the far wall of the office, with four golf balls on the floor next to a small practice cup.

Now, I know what you're thinking - come on, get real, only in Hollywood parodies and bad TV shows do bank executives actually practice their putting in the office. But there it was: a putter, four balls and a plastic bracket stuck to the floor. I stared long and hard to make sure it was not an illusion.

After seeing the alchemists and the monkeys in the coffee machine I've learned to take a moment to focus and make sure that reality is what it seems. And oh yes, it is: bank executives really do practice their short game in the office, with a bad carpet as a green and their desk chair and garbage bin as obstacles.