Nickel

I hate having rattling stuff in my pocket.

It’s not usually a problem when I’m wearing jeans. The way they fit and the closeness of the material kind of hold everything in place. But dress pants and their looser cut mean having more than one item in the pocket is clickety clickety clickety all goddamn day and I really couldn’t afford any distractions.

The culprit was a nickel. Well, that plus my cell phone. But the phone had to stay, and the other pocket already had a car key which also had non-disposable status. I thought about putting the nickel in my briefcase, but ruled that out for other rattley reasons. Thought about putting it in my back pocket, but was afraid I’d feel it when I sat down. I really couldn’t afford any distractions.

As I waited for the elevator in the parking garage, I noticed the stainless steel box on the wall that holds the papers you can take to remember where you parked. Fifth floor: Gold. All the floors in the Traders Self-Park are named after commodities, though many of them (precious metals, energy products, currencies) trade in pits 800 and something miles east of there. Or, really, in a bank of computers in central Jersey. I suppose most civilians would be confused if they limited the choices to Chicago products. The differences between SPX and OEX option contracts are subtle even to pros.

I placed the nickel on the stainless steel box. Someone else could have it if they needed it. I really couldn’t afford any distractions.

Seven-ish hours later, spent, bleary-eyed, but feeling pretty good about my chances, I came back through that elevator vestibule on my way back to my car, and there it was. It had been moved—I’d left it in the middle, but it was on the side now. No one needed the nickel. I grabbed it and threw it into the change pile under the armrest, and then sat in traffic for an hour and tried to see the future.