The Arbitrage Trader: Easy Come, Easy Go
When I moved into my new house in June, 1985 I had a virginal yard that was surrounded by so many trees and bushes that it required a tremendous amount of cutting and clearing.
The house itself was one lot back from the water, while directly behind it was a summerhouse sitting up on a bluff that had been purchased by a Wall Street arbitrage trader. This house was modest in size but commanded a spectacular view of the Shinnecock Bay and served as a retreat where he parked his trophy bride and his brand new baby. He then only came out from the city for weekend visits between June and September.
It looked to me like one of those typical twenty-year gap relationships with my guess being that he was about 55 and she was about 35. They also had a live-in housekeeper as well as a nanny who walked the baby up and down the street several times a day in a little tram. It was second wife, second life, and second home syndrome blushing forth in an affluent full bloom.
Little did I know that these characters would turn out to be two of my all time least favorite neighbors.
One day in early May of 1986, the trophy wife rang my doorbell. I thought to myself: “Gee, she probably wants to introduce herself; how neighborly.”
The gap in logic however was the fact that I had already lived there for almost a year but had never met nor even passed a single word with either spouse.
She introduced herself, and then quickly pointed out that I had huge piles of yard rubbish out by the road. She said that because they wanted to rent their house out for the week of the U.S. Golf Open it was an eyesore that might deter a potential tenant.
I replied my doubtful skepticism that tree branches piled in front of my house would have any effect on whether someone wanted her beautiful house for a week, to which she replied:
- You don’t understand. The kind of upscale tenant we are seeking might view your debris as a sign that this is some sort of a slum neighborhood and then not want to rent from us.
- You can’t possibly be serious. Anyone can see that this is a very high-end neighborhood and that my yard trash has no bearing on your reputation. And by the way, I happen to be a Cardiologist so I resent the implication that I am a negligent slum dweller. Also for your information, I do have a yardman who picks it up periodically.
- Well he needs to pick it up this week, then.
With that she turned on her heel and huffed down the driveway.
I was so peeved that I called my yard man Keith, a lackadaisical soul who did things on his own time and probably would not have come until next year anyway, to tell him not to come at least for another month so I could pile more stuff up on top of the already existing organic heap.
Three days later then, the husband who was out for the weekend also rang my doorbell. He was wearing his all white tennis togs, which by the fact of the large sweat spots I guessed he had just come off the courts.
- Hello. I’m your neighbor and I believe my wife had already asked you to have your yard trash picked up. I’m here because I do not see any action having yet transpired on the matter.
- Yes. That in fact is correct. And I have something to say to you. You moved into this neighborhood before I did and even if you legitimately object to my trash, you came over here never having had the courtesy of introducing yourself beforehand, then started sniping and insulting me. The two of you are mannerless and without diplomacy. Also, anyone who wants to rent your house will do it on its own merits and I doubt since they also want a place close enough so they can walk to the golf course that they will care about some sticks and branches out by the road.
- I disagree. It makes the road look like a slum and I want the stuff hauled away.
- Yes. I am fully aware of your effete opinion, but because you and your wife are so snobbishly rude, I want you to know that I told my yard man to leave it there until he gets one really good full truck load for the dump. Each haul costs me 25 bucks. So if you want it carted away, do it yourself. And now because you are trespassing on my private property, I am going to have to ask you to leave before I call the police.
Two days later the trash was gone. Then one year later after the stock market crash of 1987 so was he.
Apparently he lost his job as well as his entire wealth, had to fire all the domestic help and then had to sell the house at a fire-sale price. One day he was there and the next day he was gone. But before he left, my trash had been hauled away for free.
I considered the situation to be poetic justice as I could only imagine his wife, who had probably married him because she thought she hit the Wall Street lottery, now being forced to walk her baby herself, down some Manhattan side streets where the trash is piled up on a weekly basis in reeking, stinking heaps before N.Y. City’s sanitation finest haul it away to garbage barges or Staten Island land fills.
(There goes the neighborhood)
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I’m easy come, easy go
A little high, little low
Any way the wind blows.
Doesn’t really matter
Doesn’t really matter
Doesn’t really matter
(Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody)
|Photo source: www.kansas.gov/…/pages/002%20Debris%2002.htm|