Mod note: Best of Eddie, this was originally posted on 5/7/12.
"If you took all the heavy drinkers out of finance, you'd be left with like two bond analysts and an ATM machine."
I actually laughed out loud when I heard the above quote on last week's episode of Blue Bloods (great show, by the way). Detective Danny Reagan was questioning a couple of BSD's at what appeared to be a pseudo-boiler room over the ring death of a young associate in a boxing match they'd set up. He asked if the kid was a heavy drinker and that's what they told him.
It was certainly true in my day. We even had a semi-rigid drinking schedule worked out: Monday through Thursday you'd have a few drinks to calm down at get to sleep at night. I'd like to say a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, but we were always in the office for dinner. Friday was always a big day. Friday was the day you got annihilated after the close. The market closed at 1 in the afternoon in California, and we were in the bar by 1:30. Friday afternoons were all about blowing off steam by power drinking until you blacked out.
Saturday was the one day of the week that you were actually social. There would usually be a dinner of some kind with friends (although after awhile your only friends were other finance guys and their dates) followed by a party of some kind. The drinking that went on Saturday nights was a little more refined than the Friday blowout.
Sundays (at least at the beginning of my career) were spent at the park near my house with my dog, a blanket, a 6-pack, and whatever Napolean Hill-esque You'll-Be-A-Billionaire-Someday book I was reading that week. About 3 in the afternoon I'd start dreading the week ahead of me so I'd switch up to gin and tonic or rum and coke and then start the whole process over again.
I'm wondering if it's similar on the Street today. Is drinking a part of your everyday life? I've often thought that the bar for alcoholism needs to be raised for those working in finance. The rule of thumb seems to be that if you consistently have two units of alcohol per day (2 beers, 2 shots, etc...) that you're an alcoholic. I just don't think that's realistic for those in finance, at least not when I was doing it. Maybe five a day is a better number. Or maybe I'm just a drunk.
Of course, if you listen to Alcoholics Anonymous (who are no doubt shilling for new members) everyone is an alcoholic. Here is their 20-question test. If you answer just one of the questions in the affirmative, you might be an alcoholic. Two and you're probably an alcoholic; three and you're definitely an alcoholic (according to AA, anyway).
Has the boozy culture of Wall Street changed over the years? Do you guys still drink every night after work? How many drinks do you usually have in a week?