The latest work woes from fictional rep George Blaumquist. George Blaumquist leans back in his chair and stares blankly out the window to the parking lot. On his desk lies a new account form he just completed for Manny Gillespie. George and Manny have been friends since 1990 when Manny became George's barber. George's phone rings.
"Hello, this is George Blaumquist."
"Hey, it's Tom. Just thought I'd check in. Called earlier and you were out."
"I was getting a haircut."
"A haircut? During market hours? Wow, what a shop! Now, do you have your hair styled before or after your stop at the tanning salon?"
"Don't get carried away, Iversen. Manny could only take me in the morning this week, and I had to get a haircut before a dinner engagement tonight."
"You've been goin' to that `Manny' guy for quite a while now, Blaumquist."
"Ten years. Manny's got the touch, and I trust him to always give me a good haircut. I think he trusts me, too."
"You mean he trusts you to under tip him when you leave."
"Hey! He opened an account with me today, Iversen!"
"You opened an account with Manny, your barber?"
"Blaumquist, is your blood sugar low? Have a donut or something! You're flying below the radar of rationality again!"
"What's the problem with opening an account with your barber?"
"Think about it. Who's the one guy that could really make your life miserable if he wanted to? Your barber, of course! We're talkin' a `bad hair millennium' here, Blaumquist. One too many down days in his portfolio, and while you're dozin' in his chair, he does a number on you to make you look one can short of a six pack!"
"He wouldn't do that."
"Yeah, you're probably right. I wouldn't give it another thought."
"He's a professional."
"Of course he is."
"I'm a professional."
"Of course you are."
"We're all professionals!"
"We certainly are."
"You really think he could?"
"I'm bettin' Quasimodo would make GQ before you could."
"Just my luck."
"Can you say, `CD,' Blaumquist?"
"It's too late for that. I've already bought him some shares of Excel Semi!"
"You gotta be kidding, George! That stock's got a chart pattern that only Jacques Cousteau could appreciate."
"Well, he said he wanted some action, so I gave it to him."
"Hmmm ... "
"I'm just tryin' to imagine you with a reverse mohawk."
"I'm sure it'll grow out quickly, George, and besides ... "
"I think you can get hair pieces on the Internet now."
Two weeks later, Excel Semi opens down 10% as reports of a softening PC market proliferate. George is disappointed, but still optimistic longer term.
"Good afternoon, this is George Blaumquist."
"Hey, George, Tom. I see that Excel had a little hiccup this morning."
"Yeah, can you believe it?"
"Well, maybe the cell phone market forecasts will lift it."
"When will those numbers be out?"
"Good. If you see the numbers before I do, give me a call, OK?"
"Sure. No sweat, George. Relax. I'm sure they'll be good."
Another week passes and two major cell phone manufacturers announce reductions in their 2001 forecasts. Selling in Excel Semi accelerates, with the stock going down another 10%.
"Good morning, George Blaumquist."
"Hey, George, Tom. I guess you saw the cell phone forecasts."
"Yeah, Excel is riding the gravity train again."
"It'll come back."
"In time for my next haircut?"
"When are you due?"
"Next Monday. You were right! How am I going to get a decent haircut now? Is it illegal for a barber to own a hedge trimmer?"
"Look, we could easily get a Nasdaq rally by then, George."
"Yeah, and I could be CEO of Mason Towbridge by tomorrow afternoon. I've got no choice. I'm canceling my appointment with Manny!"
Two weeks later, Excel Semi announces it is cutting its capital spending for 2001 by 20%. Traders are unmerciful and take another 15% out of the stock. Tom calls George to offer some encouragement.
"Look, George, the worst is probably over for Excel Semi. The stock has priced into it slower PC sales, reduced cell phone purchases, lower capital expenditures and the earth's collision with Mars. This is the time to call Manny and suggest he average down. Then ask, `Oh yeah, by the way, can I come in for a haircut tomorrow at 3?'"
"Are you kidding? By the time I get into the chair, Excel will be at half what we paid for it, and I'll need anesthesia to endure the haircut he'd want to give me!"
"So what are ya gonna do with your hair? Braid it?"
"Maybe I'll go to another barber."
"That's too transparent! You'd look `chicken' to Manny if you tried to avoid him because of his stock."
"At least I'd still have my hair."
"Your hair will grow back, but will your dignity and your friendship with Manny?"
"OK, OK, I'll call him. At the rate my hair is growing, I'll have to start a ponytail in two weeks.
Then I could begin a class in Tai Chi and devote my life to discovering my `inner artist.'"
"George, your `inner artist' is double-parked down at La Hacienda consuming an El Grande burrito as a mid-morning snack. Don't disturb him!"
George follows Tom's advice the next week and visits Manny, who was glad to see him. George explains that Mason Towbridge still likes Excel Semi and perhaps they should consider buying more at these lower levels. Manny agrees and gives George the best haircut he's ever given him. Tom calls the following day.
"So, George! How did your meeting with Manny go?"
"It went well, and I got a great haircut! Manny is a consummate professional."
"I'm glad. Guess I was off base about who you should do business with."
"No problem. I realize it might be best to defer handling money for people with whom you share a special relationship if you think that relationship could be affected."
"I think that was the point I was trying to make, Blaumquist."
"Well, I've got to roll. Got to get some paperwork together for another new account I'm opening this afternoon."
"Well, I know it can't be for your barber."
"That would be right, Tom, ol' boy. This client wants to margin some stock to buy call options."
"Really, George. He must be a real risk taker."