The Best Time I Occupied Wall Street

Last September, I got the assignment of my nightmares at This American Life: Go to a Wall Street bar during happy hour with my colleague, Adam Davidson, and interview banker types. Oof. We’d spent the previous few years talking to tons of folks in finance and were frustrated by some of them being kind of whiny about the economy and not particularly grateful for the help they’d gotten or remorseful for how they’d contributed to the mess. So, for this piece, we wanted to ask them, “What is up with that?” and put their answers on the radio. Here’s one tough thing about radio reporting: You have a giant microphone and headphones and a recorder on your person, so conversations are not exactly “casual.” However, beer does a lot to remedy that, and after about an hour, me personally two beers in, people began to relax and chat with us — anonymously, of course. What we ended up getting might make your face boil off.

First, two bits that didn’t make it into this story:

1. When I (obnoxiously, I admit) asked the guys how much money they made, they responded with “What’s your cup size?” I told them that didn’t have anything to do with the story (duh) so they asked again. And again.

2. Toward the end of our chat one dude asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I was a radio producer and reporter and he said, “No, really,” and I said “REALLY.” And he said, “No, you’re a demo dolly. They knew we wouldn’t talk to him,” referring to Adam. I didn’t know then what a “demo dolly” was or I probably would’ve gotten into a fight. (Not my first time!) But as soon as I got back to the office I looked it up and found out it’s a name for the ladies at car shows or conventions who sometimes dress up as engineers or scientists to entice customers. Isn’t it just like public radio to trick people that way? Sneaky bastards, us.


FYI, the song leading into the piece is “Awnaw” by Nappy Roots and the song coming out of it, of course, is “I Get Money” by 50 Cent which I nominate for the official “Occupy Wall Street” theme song.

Photo byt, via Shutterstock.