Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Selling Out" (Part 8)

(Note: Since I've gained more readers in the time that I first posted the history posts (months ago, I know, I'm sorry) I figured I'd link the two previous to this one. If you want to put this post in context, I suggest reading at least these two first.) Part 6. Part 7.

After my "interview" with Peter, conflict set in.

I grew up in a middle class household that placed zero emphasis on materialism; my mother was a nurse and my father was an educator. I went to public schools.

Somehow I managed to get accepted to an Ivy League college. There, for the first time in my life, I felt poor.

All of my new "college friends" had attended private schools and had connected parents and fancy summer homes. They didn't cook themselves pasta every night and get "work study" jobs so they could afford books. They didn't seem "normal" to me. They would get excellent summer internships because some guy owed their father a favor, while I got stoned and served up "fish'n'chips" all summer at a local Bennigan's.

It built character.

The point is, me working on Wall Street seemed kind of wrong. I felt like I would be "selling out" or joining this "culture of money" that I'd been observing, somewhat critically, from the outside. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to head in that direction.

I had drinks with my best friend Sam to express my concern. He told me I was nuts.

"Fuck it. Make money and then become a monk."

He worked for the State Department and was on his way to South America. "It's crazy down there." He explained. "Everyone wants to kill somebody."

I didn't have to worry about that stuff. I just had the plastic smell of my keyboard and the gentle hum of my computer to think about.

"Make money and then become a monk." It was excellent advice.

I was young. I'd have plenty of time to work out my life's details later. Sam and I drank a good amount that evening. As I watched him walk down a wet street in Brooklyn to hail a cab back to the city, I could never have guessed how different everything would be for us both in just a few months.

Now that I had worked out any lingering doubts about working on "the Street" I had to begin studying for the Series 7.

Studying for "The Seven" is an exercise in monotony and memorization. I didn't try too hard to absorb what I was reading, because I knew I wasn't going to be selling securities products; I just had to pass in order to trade. While the study book was gigantic and all the material completely new to me, I only gave myself three weeks to absorb it all and take the exam.

Those three weeks are more or less a blur now.

I'd study for the first few hours of the morning, then break at 11 to drink coffee, have a cigar (I started smoking cigars because I thought it would put me in a "Wall Street" frame of mind... kind of like method acting), and watch "carnies and fat people" beat each other up on the Jerry Springer show. After Springer, I'd study until Judy came home.

When I had taken every practice exam and memorized every question I set a date to take the test. I don't remember much other than the instantaneous scoring. It's a scary process. You study for weeks, sit and take a 6 hour exam and learn right away whether all that work was worth it or not.

Happily, I passed. I haven't smoked a cigar or watched Jerry Springer since.

The next day I was back at Anvil Capital in the small hot room "papertrading."


Anything-Goes said...

read it all from part 1, a bit stretched out thoughh march to december.. its like the next season of lost.. I have learned to dislike it even when I want to know what happens next because the wait is too long..

retardzone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
retardzone said...

I haven't previously read the your history posts, I am interested in reading more now though.


Bluedog said...

Your studying for Series 7 reminded me of studying for the CA Bar exam. Except that involved 3 months of study and 2 days of testing. It's as close to hell as you can get. lol.


artha said...


As always, thanks for the treat. So you went to an Ivy? Interesting and impressive.

Can't wait until the next installment.

Dinosaur Trader said...


Yes, but clearly, that doesn't mean I'm smart.


I guess "The Seven" has nothing on the bar. "UWSVamp" might have something to say about that as well.


todd said...

Great reading, thanks for sharing the insight. This "history" category is even better than the Tabasco Pizza story! Good stuff.

artha said...


I have to agree with you that not all people who attended an Ivy is "smart".

I went to the Ivy in the City and I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. :)

In fact, if I had any sense, I would have stopped this trading nonsense by now. :)

artha said...

Oops, see what I mean?

is = are

Clearly, I didn't major in English.

Dinosaur Trader said...


The "my history" posts are only about my trading history kind of in a narrative form.

The "around the house" posts, where you found the pizza story, are about the crazy shit that happens to me when I leave this tiny room where I trade and blog.

It's really much safer for me to just stay inside all the time.

Thanks for reading,


Broker A said...

I bet my 7 score was much higher than yours, in addition to the other licenses I carry.

Dinosaur Trader said...


Well, that's not fair, because you have a time machine.

My score on the 7 was 82.


Broker A said...


My score was 92 on the 7--- 89 on the 24--- 85 on the 53---94 on the 63, etc.

Jeff said...

broker a most likely has a small penis

Dinosaur Trader said...

You any good at ping-pong?