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Getting A Free Lunch On Bay Street
This is about freeloaders and annual corporate meetings...
They ain't there to listen to the CEO talk !
This article was published in NOW - Toronto in December 1998.
I write for a hobby. I have had two articles published but no short stories yet.
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Temping In TV Land (Short Stories) This is a story about a fellow who takes a temp (temporary) job in a company that is involved with selling advertising to television stations. [2,015 words]
Getting A Free Lunch On Bay Street
Did someone say there was no free lunch on Bay Street? There is, as I
out during the Royal Bank of Canada's annual corporate meeting at the
Outside the hotel, protesters march and voice their opinion on the
record profits. One shareholder activist presents reforms in both of
Canada's official languages. Attendees begin to get restless,
those in the "Club," which is sometimes known as the "Green-Liners."
They weren't very interested in any of these reforms, or what the bank
chair has to say. They are there to get a free nosh.
I find out about the Green-Liners about a year ago. One day, I go to
Toronto Dominion Bank's Green Line discount brokerage office, located
Toronto's financial district. My purpose is to deposit some funds into
account, but I find myself captivated by their stock ticker tape, which
lists various stock trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
I notice there are several gentlemen engaging in friendly
I introduce myself to a few of them. One of them regales me with tales
about the Green-Liners, and invite me to meet him at the Royal York
for the bank's annual general meeting.
At the hotel, I notice several of the men I had seen at the brokerage
office. I followed the instructions I have been given the day before -
advise security that I am not a shareholder but a guest who's
buying some bank stock. No one asks for an ID or other credential.
After the formal part of the bank meeting is finally completed,
invited into a banquet hall. There's a selection of sandwiches, some
coffee, tea, and a selection of pastries. The Green-Liners are there in
full force, filling their plates with the free food.
After the meeting many of them meet up in the hotel lobby to relax and
I meet most of the Green-Liners that day. Some are retired from the
force. Many of them are still relatively young yet haven't worked in
They all share a common purpose in life, to avoid working for a living
maintaining a simple lifestyle and keeping their expenses low.
One of the ways they do this is by going to the meetings and getting
food. Green-Liners research meeting dates and locations by checking
notices published in the Globe and Mail and the National Post.
notes on the best meetings to attend is as much "work" as most of them
They are the recipients of many free meals, sometimes with an open bar.
well, they enjoy receiving the free handouts many companies provide,
hats, mugs, calendars, food coupons and so on. Such freebies are
much like a child receiving a loot bag at a birthday party.
Sometimes, there are several meetings a day, and the Green-Liners love
double-dip by attending as many as they can. As a bonus, occasionally
meetings are interesting.
And Green-Liners add to their enjoyment by asking very direct and
embarrassing questions of Bay Street's biggest hitters, perhaps a Frank
Stronach (Magna Corporation) or Conrad Black (Hollinger). Brian
a board member of Barrick Gold and has been in attendance at their
Many of the Green-Liners are really interesting individuals, if not
eccentric. A couple of them supplement their income by bin-diving,
literally going into garbage bins looking for scrap metal or pop-cans
One of these men brags about never having formally worked. This
carries around a tin of sardines in his coat pocket to the meetings, in
case of a "burn" (mediocre food, or worse, just coffee and cookies).
Some make a living speculating on the stock market. Many do well,
have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some will gamble until they
have nothing left.
The discount brokerage in certain situations allows investors to have
margin accounts, which is really a loan with practically no questions
asked. This can fuel the desire to speculate, nay, gamble on stocks,
many are clearly addicted.
One Green-Liner practically jiggles the computer terminal when he
quote, as if he is in Las Vegas shaking a slot machine for a better
Another has recently had his account frozen with the brokerage - he
meet his margin call. His savings are gone and only his government
separates him from the street.
Casino Rama has posters recommending help for a gambling problem. There
no such posters at Green-Line.
After I have enjoyed my free lunch and have had enough socializing
the Green-Liners, I leave the hotel. I pass the protesters and mention
them that next year, instead of protesting, they should attend the
and get a free meal compliments of the bank they are angry at. The
protesters aren't interested.
That's okay - there will be more food for the Green-Liners.
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