Brokerage Days: From Penny Ante Alley to A “Wirehouse” – Part 3

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I spent most of my six month apprenticeship in New York. There were thirty of us in that training class. Almost all of us were in our late 20s, had been to good schools, and looked nice in navy blue suits. That seemed to be the requirement to get hired along with passing certain personality tests and scoring well on an IQ test. All of us were white except for one black guy.

Those of us from outside the area lived in very nice apartments in Battery Park City. We had a fifteen dollar a day per diem, yes, fifteen dollars, but believe it or not, we could feed ourselves on that amount of money. One of the ways we did it was to go to Chinatown most nights and all put up ten bucks. When eight guys did that, the table got covered in food. That was when I made a major discovery. There are no cats meowing for food outside of Chinese restaurants. They are the food.

During the day, I worked at the firm’s offices on the 109th floor of the Two World Trade Center building. Since I worked on such a high floor, the building swayed so much that the water in the toilet bowls constantly swished back and forth at least an inch or more. It was a long way down from the 109th floor. You had to change elevators three times on your way up and down, like changing planes in Atlanta. I don’t like heights and my palms sweated when I looked out of the windows.

I remember seeing small planes and helicopters flying below me. That’s how far up in the air we were. It was disconcerting and I didn’t like it but the buildings were well built, I thought, and were hardly going to collapse.

View from the World Trade Center’s observation deck in New York on 19 August 1996.

[Image courtesy of Wikipedia.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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