At the halfway point on one of the hiking trails up at the Peak, a middle-aged bespectacled guy sings Jackie Cheung songs into his tape recorder. I don’t even remember anymore when I first started seeing him there, he’s as much a part of the trail as JD is (and she gets a lot more attention, this is a very common image in umpteen tourists’ and locals’ cameras)
Amid workout gear, occasional walking stick, umpteen trotting canines, his white work shirt/ leather shoes/ dark pants and occasional tie stand out as he walks briskly round and round on the trail. And yes, the singing.
He’s never made eye contact with me, or for that matter anyone I know, but it’s just (very) mildly interesting to see how various passersby react to him.
Exasperated uncles attempt to shush him, calling after him in varying degrees of politeness to shut it.
A couple of acquiantances I know (she’s local Hongkie, he’s Swiss, they have a Shih Tzu mix) groan “Oh, not the crazy guy again.”"Deluded is just a a degree of crazy.”
Passing locals mutter to each other in Cantonese “Humph. Don’t you know Hong Kong has all kinds of people”
And so he carries on. Today he had accompaniment in the form of a woman’s voice singing chinese opera style. Further up on occasion I hear a flute playing a vaguely oriental tune. (Seriously. WHY would I make this up?)
But woman’s voice and flute playing don’t usually get much attention, “crazy guy” does. Maybe because he’s the one everyone can see marching about. I’m yet to see him actually engage with anyone, all these years I’ve seen him up there. He doesn’t even blink on days he gets heckled. And so instead I imagine…
He lives alone. Or with his mother. He works what most people would think is a boring job. Like accounting.
(I get to say that because I was accounting/ auditing- trained in Singapore. Seriously, which little girl ever says “When I grow up I want to be an auditor?” Yet the basic training helped me stay error-free and allowed me to trace old trades. That might not sound very useful but during the crisis in particular it was, because new clients would come in with nothing more than a badly photocopied termsheet or say they’d lost the originals when their RMs in the other houses left/ they decided to transfer their assets, “and if you want that money to roll over into your new products, or if you want me to lock that money in with you, make sense of that blurred up termsheet. Find me an unwind price.” Who knew?
I even likened it to forensics on occasion, because issuing entities were obviously not necessarily arranging entities when they packaged the products and then there was the fact many entities weren’t quite what they used to be because of that many mergers, acquisitions, a bankruptcy or two…
Mangled Blurry Scanned Termsheet was like the white chalkline of where the body had fallen and now you had to figure how it had wound up here and what organs were recoverable. I loved the job, I loved the puzzle. Especially when we weren’t the ones who pushed the guy off the high rise, we were the ones trying to recover the remains. Figure out what could be taken apart and perhaps still retain value on its own. Which pieces might be worth zero now, yet still have a chance at being worth something in future.
Want a bond? How about zero-coupon paper? Why buy just the zero, get a deeply discounted structured note. Find someone who doesn’t want to sit on their badly-valued investment because they need the cash today or no longer trust the credit of the note issuer. Sell that to someone who simply wants plain paper from the note issuer. Because the embedded options come free, at that bad valuation. They might be worth close to zero today, in which case you’ve bought what you wanted, a simple paper. But what if the market moves and those worthless options are now worth something?
Truth is, you’re the only one who can decide how useful you make every shred of information, of knowledge you get. I realized that the day I heard a civil engineer by training recommend a kind of reinforcement for an Asset Backed Commercial Paper Program portfolio management spreadsheet based on how he had been trained to reinforce the foundations of building ceilings)
And if “crazy guy” is proud of his singing, what’s the harm, really? He doesn’t stink. He’s not rude to anyone, heck he doesn’t even look at anyone. Isn’t it better that he’s happy and proud of his singing than one day he realizes no one likes him him or his singing and then takes out a gun and kills us all?
I haven’t seen any dogs pay him heed, even when he steps around or over some of the little ones in his ever-purposeful stride. Sometimes animals really are smarter than people.
But mostly “crazy guy” was good for a trip down memory lane today. It’s one of those days when I remember I loved my job so and it had nothing to do with my own ego.
Thank you, Crazy Guy.