|photo: Gin Soak|
Guarding the electronic gates are stationed three or four blank-faced security guards. Grey suited, ear-plugged and miked up, they stare impassively, but not disinterestedly, at the comings and goings of staff and visitors.
Each morning as we approach the barriers we are required to hold out our photo-ID for inspection before swiping, the guards' brief glance a precaution against cards borrowed.. or stolen.
Blank-faced and impassive all, that is, save one guard who finds a pleasure in his job that escapes the others. He's worked for the bank for about two months but still he grins and he beams. Each tiredly-proffered card is acknowledged with a point, a confidential smile, sometimes even a wink. A heavy bag draws a sigh of commiseration and a helpful hand through the barrier; nervous and uncertain interviewees are greeted and directed reassuringly. While his colleagues stand, still and unmoving against the wall, he paces back and forth, and dances from side to side, spinning on polished heels as flow of desk-bound executives parts around him. Twice I have seen a little skip of enthusiasm. He's a genuine character, familiar to all of us, a fixture who always draws a smile.
But in our sober and serious, politically besieged investment bank he doesn't hit quite the right note; doesn't speak with the right voice. I don't expect he will last very much longer.