Cowboys and Indians

My older son spent a summer working on the floor  when he was in HS. He was evidently scarred or at least struck with a practical joke that he observed several times that summer. He reminded me of the event several days ago.

Prior to 9/11 most exchange floors had fairly easy access for visitors assuming they had some connection with somebody on the floor. Typically, options floors were easier to access than equity floors. The average floor age on options floors is substantially younger than that on equity floors.

A typical young (read under 30) visitor who has never been on an exchange floor, is generally in awe of the noise and pandemonium that occasionally occurs. The film (movie to my generation) Trading Places typifies the high point of the trading day. Some news event triggers excitement in a trading crowd and that feeling emanates out to those watching but uninvolved. Even long time floor dwellers will gather to watch an active crowd.

Due to the manic, depressive nature of floor operations during slow periods, the floor population looks for outlets.

When a young and hopefully “deer in the headlights” kind of visitor is on the floor and hopefully totally mesmerized by the blinking screens and noise level, some under-employed clerk will have a brainstorm. A quick check of the victims shoes to determine if they have thick and hard heels-then some quick work with scissors, stapler and scotch tape and voila-a small but real looking set of paper spurs. Step two requires the perpetrator to get behind the intended victim and to get down on his knees. The true art is the spur makers ability to attach the spurs to the shoes of the victim without the about to be cowboy feeling or realizing what is happening. Scotch tape works wonders and an experienced cowboy maker can attach a spur to each foot in under 15 seconds.

In the event that the victim is wearing sandals or some other kind of floor inappropriate shoe, the paper cutter can easily shape a tomahawk at right angles to a round paper disk. With a red magic marker it can be made to appear as though the hatchet has drawn blood when placed in the middle of the victims back with scotch tape. I hardy slap on the back accomplishes the feat along with a hardy “how are you.” The third and most difficult part of the triage is the attaching of a paper holster and gun to the victim. A chain of paper clips with a bent end on either end-when hooked in a jacket pocket and stringing behind the back-provides the needed gun belt.

Once the paraphenalia is in place, someone always starts singing a popular cowboy song. Home on the Range or whatever. The entire crowd quickly picks it up and a chorus ensues. Amazingly the victim has no clue that he/she is a victim and in some instances the “deer” joins in the chorus. As the visitor continues on the tour of the floor, other crowds pick up the song and the visitor can be regaled and entertained for the entire visit.

I have seen visitors leave the building still adorned and surprised when somebody walking by on the street, points out that they have something stuck on their shoe or back.

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2 Responses to “Cowboys and Indians”


  1. 1 stephen o'grady December 3, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    that always was one of my favorites. who says floor folks aren’t creative?


  1. 1 links for 2006-12-04 at tecosystems Trackback on December 4, 2006 at 5:25 am

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