Someplace Better


Desmond Dupree is torn between two exciting career opportunities, work as a Wall Street Investment banker or pilot Navy fighter jets. He picks Wall Street because he is tired of being poor. Desmond is determined to do great things. He achieves more than he ever dreamed possible. He creates great wealth investing in beach front real estate and even has an impact on global bond Markets.

Then the economic crash and all chaos breaks lose for Desmond and the world! His wife is arrested and he is imprisoned. But, even then, Desmond finds a way. He is after all, an American Capitalist ... and it all pays off in the end.

Chapter 1

DESMOND DUPREE WAS TORN BETWEEN two exciting career opportunities: work as a Wall Street investment banker or fly Navy fighter jets. His two degrees from Tulane University in math and economics would open doors. Not quiet or shy, Desmond was determined to do exciting things. Naval aviation offered him a spot in the next flight training class aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a carrier group based in Norfolk, Virginia. Desmond held out, optimistically waiting on Waterman Securities’ elusive Wall Street offer. He decided to pursue investment banking because he wanted to know what it was like to have financial security. Desmond was tired of being poor.

The New Orleans office of Waterman Securities (WS) received 150 résumés each month, yet they only hired six recruits a year. Desmond called Mr. Nick Brandages, the WS manager, for the fourth time, requesting yet another meeting. “Mr. Brandages, can we meet for breakfast tomorrow morning?” he asked.

They met at the Intercontinental Hotel across the street from the WS office in downtown New Orleans. Mr. Brandages wore expensive three-piece suits, had perfect posture, and always had the tip of a silk handkerchief extending from his jacket pocket, matching the color of his tie. An old-fashioned pocket watch was connected to a gold chain that threaded between buttonholes in his vest. A fob made of gold and diamonds was attached to the other end of the chain. His thick gray hair was perfectly in place. He smiled confidently.

Mr. Brandages’ regal appearance was in sharp contrast to Desmond’s department store suit, discount tie, and vinyl shoes. Desmond did not order anything to eat or drink. He was too nervous. “I don’t want to seem pushy or out of line, but I need an answer. Will I receive a job offer from Waterman Securities?” Desmond found the courage to ask.

Mr. Brandages studied Desmond. He smiled slightly and nodded his head. “I decided to hire you during our first meeting. I have been waiting for you to close the deal! You start next week,” he said. “Now relax, eat something, and start calling me Mr. Nick.”

He explained the federal license requirements, including the Series 7 and Series 63 exams, that Desmond would need to obtain. The Series 7 exam had to be taken successfully on the first attempt with a minimal passing score of 70. “If you are not serious enough about your career to study and pass on the first try, then we don’t need you, but don’t worry, you will pass,” Mr. Nick explained.

Desmond especially liked the fact that the Waterman training pro- gram required a month in New York. He had not been out of New Orleans much, except for family vacations to Pensacola and a few trips to Atlanta. Desmond had never been on an airplane.

Mr. Brandages was a great judge of talent and looked for it in the most unlikely places. He said that he would prefer to hire a poor kid from the Irish Channel area of New Orleans rather than a silver spoon Harvard grad if the inner city kid had heart. “Be back here Wednesday morning at nine o’clock,” Mr. Nick said.

He realized Desmond owned only one suit, a fact that was evident after multiple meetings. On Wednesday morning he took Desmond shopping. Mr. Nick invested five thousand dollars of his own money in business suits, ties, and shoes for Desmond. Wearing new clothes gave Desmond remarkable confidence. “Nice clothes make you feel better than having a wallet full of cash,” Mr. Nick said. He was right. Desmond learned how to tie a necktie correctly and polish real leather shoes. “Throughout the day check your appearance. Make sure your tie is straight, shirt tucked in tight, belt buckle lined up! To be successful, you must look successful,” Mr. Brandages advised.

Desmond was given eight weeks to prepare for the Series 7 exam. This was the general securities license required by theNational Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) for anyone wishing to work as a stockbroker. The firm gave Desmond a stack of books, placed him in an empty cubicle, and told him to “study.” The material was easy to understand because it was similar to the subjects Desmond had covered while studying economics at Tulane: interna- tional markets, options, derivatives, and municipal bonds. However, Waterman provided no assistance other than the collection of books; it was professional Darwinism, survival of the most determined. Desmond studied all day long, every day. He ate lunch at his desk to save time.

John was a Waterman trainee hired two weeks earlier. He was con- fident since his Series 7 practice test scores were in the eighties, well above the minimum passing grade of seventy. But he scored a failing sixty-eight, did not return to the office, and his name was never mentioned again. “John was confident yet he failed. Yes, I am nervous!” Desmond confessed to Mr. Nick.

“I did not fire John, he fired himself! Forget about John! What happened to him has no impact on your career with Waterman. It’s like flipping a coin. The result of one flip does not affect the next. It’s always fifty-fifty odds. Focus and pass your exams as expected,” Mr. Brandages said.

The Series 7 was administered at a downtown New Orleans hotel. Desmond walked upstairs to the third floor, down a long hall, and turned right. The exam room was furnished with sixty individual desks spaced evenly apart. Proctors were dressed in white shirts, black ties, and black pants. The clock counted down the seconds to either the start of a lucrative career or humiliation and failure. Desmond was distracted by the constant back-and-forth marching of the proctors, each patrolling an assigned area of the exam room. They seemed to approach quietly from the back, sneaking up upon anyone desperate enough or unprepared enough to attempt cheating. Desmond fin- ished before time was up. He turned in his test booklet at the front desk, returned the pencils, and walked across Canal Street to the soda fountain in the Kress Department Store. Desmond enjoyed a ham- burger and crème soda, confident he had done well.

The next week went by slowly as Desmond waited for the test results. He tried studying for the Series 63. The 63 exam allowed bro- kers to be licensed in states other than their state of domicile. It was much easier than the Series 7, but concentration was difficult. Desmond began looking back over the Series 7 study material and second-guessing his answers. “Mr. Desmond Dupree, please report to the manager’s office,” Mr. Brandages’ assistant announced over the office PA system. The short walk from his cubicle to Mr. Nick’s office seemed difficult, a forced march leading to a very unpleasant fate. Desmond sat in a leather chair at a round table with his hands clenched tightly into nervous fists. His stomach was beginning to turn, and breathing became difficult.

Mr. Brandages sat across from him and opened an envelope; he read the results. “You passed with a score of ninety-four. Congratulations.” He shook Desmond’s hand as he got up from the table.

Desmond looked surprised. “Is that it?”

“Why, are you expecting special accolades for doing what I hired you to do?” Mr. Brandages replied.

Desmond completed the additional tests. These were nothing compared to the difficulty of the Series 7 exam, and failure resulted in an embarrassing retake, not termination.

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Someplace Better