by Kathleen Bradean
I've heard some outrageous excuses in my professional work, but none as delightful as Lisabet's. The ones I hate are the whiny 'finger of blame pointing anywhere but at me' excuses. It brings out my inner Domme. The recent story about the huge fine leveled against a rogue Societe Generale trader inspired me to whip the following together.
(This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to
jerks I've worked with persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental - as far as they know.)
Even though the office was air conditioned, it couldn't keep up with the humidity in our tropical paradise. My high-necked blouse clung to my back, and my thighs sweated against my leather office chair. Disciplining a headstrong countess on my staff was partially to blame for that.
As the countess fled my office in tears, my eleven o-clock appointment barged in without bothering to knock.
"Alice? My manager on the trading desk told me to report to you."
Though I didn't look at him, I could see enough in my peripheral vision to get a rather disturbing picture of the young man. He probably thought his smile was charming, with a touch of bad-boy roguishness. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his khaki pants and my god, he'd popped the collar of his polo shirt like a 1980s flashback. It wasn't even casual Friday. The new ones always mistook the tourist brochures of this tax-haven Caribbean island for an employee handbook.
Without looking up from the stack of papers on my desk, I told him, "It's Ms. Daniels, and you will knock on my office door and wait for permission to enter."
"You're kidding, right?"
How I would have loved to see the spark of disbelief in his blue eyes, but I was too busy tracking the losses tied to a curious trail of trades that he'd somehow hidden from our audit department in London.
My silence must have wiped that insolent grin off his face, because he got huffy.
"Listen, every second I'm away from the trading desk is costing this bank millions of dollars!"
"More likely, Mr. Huntington, it's saving the bank millions of dollars."
Finally, I peered over the top of my reading glasses.
"I told you to step outside my office, shut the door, knock, and wait for permission to enter."
He sputtered indignation while I added another eight-figure number to the loss column. The signature approving that trade ticket was as poorly forged as the others on the pile. Admittedly, he'd had a few lucky profits, but those trades to the positive hardly made up for all the red negative numbers on my computer monitor.
He slammed my door on the way out. I was sure that my staff shook their heads at his foolishness. If he saw those pitying glances, he probably sneered at them, thinking that he was superior. If he had bothered to focus on their faces, he might have recognized many of them. I'm sure that some of my staff attended the same prestigious schools he had, or the same A-list parties across the globe. Those who hadn't, he might have recognized from grainy pictures on the internet, although admittedly a few had held jackets over their faces as the press snapped their pictures.
I typed numbers from the last two trade tickets into my spreadsheet. The sum of his losses was staggering, and I was used to numbers in the billions. He had been a bad boy, indeed.
He cracked open the door. "May I come in now?"
"Not until you correct your tone. Stand outside my office door for five minutes. Don't move. Then knock again. You will be timed."
"This is fucking bullshit! I don't have to put up with this! Listen, bitch, no one knows this, but my father is a major stockholder in this bank--."
"Everyone knows about your connections, Mr. Huntington, which is why they sent you to me instead of calling the police, but by all means, give me a reason to bring the authorities into this sordid mess. Considering that the only real industry on this island is banking, they take financial crimes very seriously here. Your reputation means nothing; theirs means everything. You will be made an example of, one way or another."
I turned my computer monitor around so that he could see it. Those big baby blue eyes blinked.
"Have you never seen it all in one place before? You may recognize the numbers in red. Those are your losses on unauthorized trades in the currency markets."
"Every single one of my trades was approved."
"Forging the signature of the head auditor isn't the same as approval, Mr. Huntington. Making large bets to cover your losses was foolish, especially since all you did was lose more money. You went to great lengths to cover your trades, didn't you?"
In that moment, he knew that he was caught. The terror on his face only lasted seconds before it was replaced by a sly smile. Obviously, he'd had plenty of practice with deception. I wondered how many times daddy bailed him out of trouble before. Unfortunately, even daddy's vast fortune couldn't begin to cover the losses this time. They never learned, those parents. Of course, if they'd forced their children to face the consequences of their actions long ago, I wouldn't have my lovely, obedient, strictly disciplined staff.
He tried his 'douche bag at a bar' sexy smile on me."Well, you see, it was like this--"
"I add extra lashes if I have to listen to an excuse."
I placed a cane on top of the stacks of paper on my desk. "No doubt you'll provide an amusing tale. It will cast you as the hero, and your supervisors as villains. However entertaining your story might be, I have no interest in hearing it. The young lady who fled my office in tears as you arrived persisted in wasting my time with her excuses. She won't be able to sit the rest of the afternoon."
He sneered. He posed. He leaned over my desk and pushed his face close to mine. "I'll report you."
"The Board already knows everything. Your father is justifiably upset."
The over-inflated balloon of his ego sprung a leak.
"Your father said to tell you that your allowance is cut off immediately, and to try to live within the means of your salary here. The future of your employment is, as of today, in my hands." I picked up the cane and ran my hand down the length of it. How I loved that slender rod. So smooth, so wicked.
Understanding dawned on his face. It was a moment that I'd always treasure.
I made a scooting gesture with my hand. "Five minutes, Mr. Huntington. Then we will discuss your future here at the bank. After, of course, you submit to punishment for your crimes."
He grasped for a bit of dignity. "You can't be serious."
"Several billion dollars is a serious matter, Mr. Huntington. By the end of this day, I will have impressed upon you, and your lily white buttocks, just how serious it is."
He shut my office door gently that time. Several minutes later, I heard him sob. By the time his five minutes were up, I expected him be in the right frame of mind to bend over my desk and bare his bottom. I allowed myself a tight smile as I tidied my desk. Several billion dollars in losses. It was going to be a painful lesson, indeed.