Monday, October 04, 2010

Only on Wall Street


And this.

Got the attention of this, which cranked out a metro-blog posting that went something like this:
There are few socially acceptable reasons to speak to strangers on New York City’s subways during the morning commute. Almost none, in fact. But that doesn’t stop Solomon Lederer.

His speech to a crowded B-train car could almost be mistaken for the interruptions already familiar to transit riders. “I just want to say something for like 30 seconds,” he begins, in the style of panhandlers, proselytizers and the sellers of dubiously charitable candy bars. But Lederer’s attire — ubiquitous corporate casual, with a flyer-laden satchel he refers to as his “purse” — signals that the 29-year-old Morgan Stanley software developer might be after something different.

“I have this idea,” Lederer continues, “that we can do some kind of exchange or networking on the subway so that we can get more of what we want and possibly give more of what we can give.” He then hands out the flyers to make his offer plain: Hi! I have an idea to make our commute more interesting and productive, but need some feedback and help with the details.

This unusual approach is part of Lederer’s effort to take the ethos of social networking offline — to “friend” his fellow subway riders. It’s a challenge to the sullen isolation of the commute, giving everyone the chance to join his impromptu circle of altruistic exchange.

“I have this sense that on the subway, there’s more we can do to interact with people,” he explains.

Lederer’s experiment started last month, when he invited passengers on the F line to contact him with advice and ideas. The flyers, which include his email address, landed Lederer lunch with the chief communications officer of a holding company, a date and a solicitation to clean a woman’s soiled guinea pig cages.

THAT, IN TURN, got the attention of this:

AND THAT last week led to this:

Less than a week after the story appeared, Lederer, a software developer, was fired by Morgan Stanley. He said his participation in the story led to his termination.

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman said that Lederer was not fired for talking to a reporter, adding that it is not company policy to disclose reasons for termination.

Morgan Stanley’s employee code of conduct bars workers from representing themselves in a media outlet as an employee without prior permission, but it’s not necessarily a fireable offense, according to a source familiar with the policy. Other companies have similar policies, though some are stricter than others.

Lederer, who has worked with the company since late April, said he did not represent himself as a Morgan Stanley employee when addressing subway passengers. He said he was not aware of any prior issues with his job performance.

“I was trying to do a good thing and it backfired,” he said.

According to Lederer, a company director sent him a text message shortly after the story appeared last Friday and asked to meet. Lederer said he was told that he “exhibited poor judgment,” but he wasn’t fired that day. He said he believed the matter was closed, until Wednesday afternoon, when he was dismissed.

I DON'T KNOW whether it's more comforting or disturbing to know that the folks at Gordon Gekko's block party treat their worker ants just like they do the rest of us.

And I thought I had all the reason I needed to hate Wall Street. Yet another complete failure of imagination on my part.

HAT TIP: The Gothamist.

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