When you’re a bit more senior at a large bank and have worked there for 5+ years, it becomes easier to just tell your boss “hey, I’m not coming in the Friday before Labor Day” or “have to run out a bit early next Friday.” When you’re an analyst, however, this is not the case. Or at least it definitely wasn’t where I worked! There was one Friday over the summer that we just had to go out. The office was dead quiet, there was no work left to do, and all we wanted was to be out and about enjoying summer like our non-finance friends. We knew there would be a strategy required to pull this off.
I remember pulling up all the calendars we had access to, to find out when the people we worked for would be “busy” or leaving early. We got to know all of the cues. A “HOLD” on our bosses’ calendar from 4pm – 5pm probably meant he was leaving at 3:45 for the day. We got to know all of the acronyms for their children’s schools and “extracurricular” activities, and had a good pulse on when someone was “taking a call from the road.” 3pm seemed clear. One boss had the code on his calendar for his personal trainer so we knew he wouldn’t be sending emails, and another was catching a 4pm flight. We knew she wouldn’t want to be sending emails while dealing with her children on the security line. A third boss (we worked for like ten people) abruptly called in sick that morning and seemed to not want to be bothered.
We couldn’t possibly walk out at the same time, especially if we were carrying our bags and wearing commuting shoes. It would be too obvious. Most of the overachievers were still at the office and would have loved nothing more but to bust our plan and rat us out.
Our strategy went as follows:
- Step 1 – Determine optimal time (3pm, DONE)
- Step 2 – Take bags out with us to pick up lunch. Nobody would ever suspect we’d leave that early. On the way back from lunch, casually drop belongings in a closet on another floor. This step is critical.
- Step 3 – One of us steps away to take a “personal phone call.” The other waits 5 minutes and then casually mentions a planned coffee downstairs to those around.
- Step 4 – Meet on the floor where the bags and shoes are stashed. Grab belongings.
- Step 5 – Our building had a maze of elevator banks. Getting caught in the elevator would ruin the plan. Take stairs up to access a different elevator bank that nobody in our line of business uses. Ride the elevator down from there.
- Step 6 – Pray that nobody runs into us in the lobby.
Our masterminded plan should have worked like a charm — but didn’t. I guess karma is a you know what…
Here’s where we failed miserably:
- Problem 1 – One of our (many bosses) who we thought had a meeting outside of the office was actually in a meeting on the floor where we stashed our belongings. “Hey girls! What are you possibly doing on this floor??” Awkward.
- Problem 2 – Instead of turning around after one run in – we continued. Up the stairs, around to the other elevator bank and down to the lobby level. Almost out of the building and BAM! As we were exiting the turn-style to leave the building, our analyst manager was coming in. “Could you believe I was so silly and left my phone at my desk!?” WE WERED SCREWED, but there was no turning back at that point.
- Problem 3 – We made the decision to walk over to a department store a few blocks away, because why not, we escaped early… and BAM! Our bosses’ BOSS (who we were certain was with his personal trainer for the record) walked RIGHT BY US. RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DEPARTMENT STORE. “Have a good weekend ladies….” Ugh.
What are the takeaways here?
- Work really hard, so when you have incidents like these people laugh instead of thinking you’re an absolute disaster. You definitely can’t get away with things like this on the regular.
- Have fun. You may be an analyst at a bank working endless hours a week, but find people who make you laugh.
- You always get caught. So don’t do anything that you couldn’t stand getting caught doing.