I work in London in the financial district, where I regularly interact with people who appear to ‘work’ in banking, and who hand me business cards which have esoteric job titles like Accounts Manager or Director of Marketing Operations on them. They are always Director or Manager; these firms don’t appear to have any junior staff. Maybe they don’t get lunch breaks or business cards because they are all slaves, I mean, unpaid interns.
I’m not sure what it is these bankers do, they mostly seem to wander around with small paper bags filled with pseudo-health foods, and bark into their iPhones that they are very busy when in fact they are in my shop buying energy gels to sustain them for the 5km JP Morgan fun run.
Now I don’t believe in free will, which is a subject for another post, so I don’t blame anyone for their behaviour, and of course I’m generalising, but it is very, very difficult to like these people. The fact that they have ended up in the finance industry says something about them and their ideals. Of course, some of them may not be happy there and will get out; maybe those are the ones who are nice to people who work in shops.
They have a practiced air of ambition; they speak in clipped, demanding tones, sometimes not even using full sentences, presumably to show me how efficient and competent they are.
“Shorts!” is one of the things I hear most often. I reply, “sorry, did you mean, ‘excuse me, I’d like to buy some shorts?’, because what you actually did there was shout a noun at me. Or are you playing a word association game? HATS!”
I’ve become largely immune to it, but something I saw recently really made me want to smash things.
It was a shoe shine stand. In Broadgate Plaza. Bankers were sitting down, having someone shine their shoes. Why should this bother me more than any other service people pay for, like having their car washed for example? Because shoe-shines are symbolic of the class war that has plagued British history. I imagine the business man returning home, and a 7 year old, sooty-nosed boy clambering out of his fireplace.
There is something obscene about it, something Victorian and offensive. Something Tory. And what makes it even more offensive, is that these people are not even that wealthy or posh. But they like to think they are, and they want someone to get down on their knees, and clean the dirt from their shoes.
They actually think they work hard. They actually think their job means something, and that they are contributing to society. They think they are better than you and me, and they want you to clean their shoes.
Maybe I’m being unfair. I used to have a well-paid job and a nice car, I used to think that meant I was doing well, but I was wrong, and I never paid anyone to clean my shoes.
The tag-line for the shoe cleaning business is:
Let the shine on your shoes let the world know where you stand…
On the backs of the proletariat.
Clean your own fucking shoes.