Longtime WSO user who has recently discovered a significant amount of excess free time after my fund effectively closed. Have been playing around with a bit of writing to fill the time and thought I would create a dummy account to elicit feedback from the forumn. Would love any and all feedback (negative or positive) and am happy to continue positing is feedback positive.
One week after learning my fund was returning outside capital and my position as the fund's sole analyst was to be eliminated, I walked out of the office for the final time. As the office door shut behind me, I thought I would feel something - happy, sad, relieved, wistful nostalgic, angry - but nothing. Maybe I had already accepted my fate in the intervening week and somehow subconsciously processed these emotions bit by bit over the prior seven days. Or perhaps that I was racing out the door to catch a bus the Hamptons preoccupied my thoughts. Either way, at the moment the sound of the door latching hit my eardrums, it's hard to say whether I truly internalized this chapter, albeit a brief one, forever closing.
I walked out of the building into the sweltering July Manhattan heat, threw on my Ray-Bans and the began the crosstown trek to my bus. There was a lot on my mind as I traipsed from Madison Avenue to Lexington. How do I avoid sweating in the over 90 degree heat? Did I need provisions for the three hour trek to Bridgehampton? Can I drink on the bus? Where is the nearest liquor store? What's for dinner? I'm hot. Can everyone see the sweat bleeding through my shirt?
Noticeably absent from my bouillabaisse of thoughts were musings on markets, investments, and stocks. All potentially work-related reflections were conspicuously non-existent. Like a bad memory, I had repressed the ruminations that would normally be swirling around my head. No longer did I have a master to serve and without a master, my cerebral cortex shut down.
My nine months in the hedge fund industry ended very unceremoniously. I spent the final week winding down a couple projects, organizing old files, shredding superfluous papers, and cleaning my workstation. On my final day, after a good scrub with industrial strength cleaner, it looked as though no one had worked at my desk for the past nine months. Before departing, I shook my bosses hand, looked him in the eye, and thanked him for being a coach and mentor. And for employing me for nine-months. I can't leave out that minor detail. And while we'd all like to think we leave a lasting mark on the organizations we work for, I have no qualms saying that I will in all likelihood soon be forgotten. All that was left was an imprint of my bottom on my office chair.
There were no seven-figure bonuses, no trades that broke economies, no raiding corporate pension plans. I was not the swashbuckling hedge fund manager depicted on television or in the movies. Maybe I deluded myself into thinking I eventually could be that, but no, I was the grunt; an amalgamation of characters depicted the in the TV show Billions, but only the ones given very limited screen time. The ones used as plot devices to create weekly fodder for the audience as the main story arc moves through the season. Don't get me wrong, I was well-compensated. Maybe even in excess of the value I contributed (perhaps a debate for another time). It's just that my story is not a tale of great fortunes won on the battlefield of high finance.
To be laid off, regardless of the underlying cause, is a less than ideal way for one's employment to end. That said, I harbored no ill will towards my boss. His decision to shutter the fund was economically rational - utility maximizing - and for that, I could not fault him. He had conducted himself as a gentleman and for that, I respected him. I'd like to think that respect was mutual, but I don't know. I don't know if I'll ever know his unvarnished views towards me.
But on this day, all those thoughts became secondary to the present. Secondary to living in the moment. Secondary to looking forward to the freedom afforded by no immediate responsibilities. For the first time in my life, I could inhale the New York City summer air without having to worry about what happens once the intoxication wears off.
I now have the freedom to step back for a just a moment, hit the pause button, and simultaneously reflect on all that I've done and all that is yet to come. I don't know if I yet fully appreciate the reverberations this event will have on my life and my career, but I'm sure like ripples on a pond, they will be far and wide. And only time will reveal the ultimate impact.