The Real Story of the Day at the Lake.

CB Bassity ©1996  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    We've probably all seen the ad in a magazine sometime in the last year: a photo, all in the soft, orange tones of sun low over the water, water in which a young woman--barefoot, in shorts, and standing on a rock at lake's-edge--is clearly relaxed and enjoying a quiet moment. The picture is framed along one side by an overlay of paperback book, sunglasses, tanning oil, and towel--the stuff of vacation and recreation--and the top corner of the picture is overlaid by a newspaper page of stock quotes, which is itself overlaid by a trademark pager whose small screen reads,

PRICE FALLING FAST
SELL NOW.
Above the photo we read: HOW TERRY HOOPER MADE THE WISE DECISION TO DUMP HER STOCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAKE, and a series of four brief paragraphs alongside the picture forms a narrative, showing how invaluable this paging service is.
    The golden tones of sunrise, water lapping at her feet, suntan oil and the other paraphernalia of relaxation--all join to frame Terry in an enticing image that can scarcely fail to convince us of the value--the absolutely necessity--of a Pagenow pager to the on-the-move professional today. This idyllic scene, however, doesn't tell the whole story.

******

    The stress of Terry Hooper's work at Tricor ("We're not in the market--we are the market") had boiled over yesterday. Things being what they were in the office, she could afford only one day off. It would be a good one. She would leave the world behind and enjoy the lake. She arrives there early, and we have a picture of a glorious moment.

    In the midst of all that commotion over the Criswell debacle late yesterday morning -- Cheryl coming apart because Jones and his Chicago crowd had snuck in through the back door of engineering to nab the one account Terry had pledged to lay on Forbes' table in time for the third quarter report -- Steve Siletto, her broker, had called. "Terry, that one-in-a-million juncture I told you about -- it's here. The big ones have made their move, and Abcom is down four points. It's right now, or forever regret not having balls, baby."
    Terry had looked across the table at not only Cheryl but that god-awful human doormat, Peterson, who lives only to brown-nose Forbes anyway, and in the supreme confidence of knowing that a whole army of Cheryls and Petersons would never have a track record like hers, she barely suppressed a smirk and spoke into the phone. "Yeah, Steve. Buy it, I'm in--the whole amount."
    Thirty-eight thousand into Abcom at eight bucks a share, she had thought as she hung up, if it goes up only to twelve--let alone the fifteen Steve expects--that's ninet--
    "Yeah, well, if you can't get Des Moines lined out on this thing," Peterson was saying, "I don't know where we'll be." Snapping back to the business at hand, Terry had looked him steadily in the eye, "I'm already on it."  And indeed, the line to Des Moines was buzzing.
    So now, with the lake-water rippling at her feet, easing Tricor, Cheryl, Forbes, and the whole damn lot of them out of mind, she gets a page from Steve, telling her that Abcom has opened at 7 7/8. Well that's no big one, she thinks, we knew there'd be some maneuvering. She walks back up the hill to her car and hits Steve's two-digit memory code on the cellular phone mounted on the console.
    "Good morning, Barnes Brokerage, how may I help you?"
    "Steve Siletto's office, please"
    "Thank you. Please hold," then after five rings, "Margorie Florsheim speaking. How may I help you?"
    "Steve Siletto, please. This is Terry Hooper."
    "I'm sorry Miss Hooper, Mr. Siletto isn't in right at this moment. Can I have someone else--"
    Terry cuts her off.  "Just give me his cellular number."
    "Well, since it's you, Miss Hooper, I don't think he'll mind. It's 415-7784." Terry scribbles it down on page three of her John Grisham paperback, and calls. After five rings, a recording in that obsequious news-speak voice: "Thank you for using the Cellular-One Network. The unit you are calling is not in operational mode, or it is out of the home area."
    Oh the hell with it. If anything happens, he'll let me know. Terry locks the car and follows the path back down to the lake. It's nearly 9:00 A.M.
    9:12, a page from Steve, "CALL ME. SILETTO." Terry walks back to the car, realizes her keys are wrapped in her shirt down at the lakeside, walks back down the path, and then up again, and eventually gets Siletto on the line.
    "Steve, what's going on?"
    "Terry, I don't think we have to worry -- Abcom's at seven and three quarters, but I thought I'd better return your call."
    "Hey, if this is all within your reasonable scenario, I'm cool. I'm taking the day off, I'm relaxing at the lake, but I'll hold onto the pager just in case."
    "Girl, you relax and have a good one. It's just a matter of time before this thing starts climbing." At nine-thirty-five Terry is back to her Grisham and suntan oil.
    9:47, the pager's buzzing. "CALL THE OFFICE. CHERYL." Terry laughs, clears the message, keeps reading.
    10:09, the pager again.  "TERRY, IT'S IMPORTANT. CHERYL." Oh, screw you, Cheryl. Crawl under a rock and die, why don't you.  But after reading two full pages, Terry finds she doesn't know what she's read -- she's circling the office in her mind, wondering what could have come up. She couldn't have missed an appointment. . . no, but. . . ? She climbs the hill to the car and calls in.
    "This better be important, Cheryl -- I told you I'm off today. Now what's the problem?"
    "Terry, it's the Unicom account. They called -- they think something's wrong on their statement, and they want to know why. What do you have that stuff under? We looked through your Unicom stuff and couldn't find the A-37 file."
    "It's either in the "pending litigation" or the secondaries. And after this I'm switching off the pager, and I won't be near the phone. If anything else comes up, it'll have to keep till tomorrow. Got it? So don't bother trying to find me."
    "All right, Terry. I wouldn't have called you at all, but Don wanted to respond immediately on this. See you tomorrow."
    At ten-thirty Terry returns to her book. The sun is glaring off the page. She puts on her sunglasses. Now that she's dealt with all the garbage, she can relax and enjoy herself.     Terry stuffs the book into her bag, the front cover catching the clasp of her purse and folding back crookedly. She walks a few steps into the water to clear her head, before climbing the hill to the car.
    "Good morning, Barnes Brokerage, how may I help you?"
    "Siletto."
    "Thank you."
    "Steve Siletto's office, Marjorie Florsh--"
    "Terry Hooper here. Just put me through to Steve, please."
    "I'm sorry, Miss Hooper, he's with a client. Is there anything I can help you with?"
    That path up and down the hill is getting to be a pain. Terry sits in the passenger seat of her car, waiting for Steve's call. She hadn't noticed before that the damn electric window control doesn't work on the passenger door.
    And, of course, the day continues in that vein. The pager carrying news, calls back and forth on the cellular phone. Worries, concerns, calculations. Terry reads a chapter or two of her paperback, but most of the time she weighs the market and her place in it.
    A great blue heron, standing all day in the shallows at the lake's edge, stirs only once, to come up with a small perch flipping in its bill. It happens while Terry is trudging up the hill toward her car. She doesn't see it of course.
    The fact is Terry never even considers what the day might have been like otherwise. She triumphs over the market, getting out without a loss. And she's pleased to be poster-girl for the electronic pimping network. It's so now.
    The next morning, she snaps at Cheryl over something trivial. It's 9:30.  Cheryl looks at Terry, "What's with you? At least you had a day off. I'd like to spend some time at the lake . . . "
    Terry doesn't hear the rest. She's staring at a blank spot on the wall.

Back to my home page