*This is a recent republish from late '08, and again from mid '10, and yet again in recognition of Greece and the markets in '15...*
Like many of you, my 401k feels like it's been riding a porcupine bareback for the past five quarters. Especially this last one, as the statement I received indicated (imagine a nice, big, fat, RED ARROW POINTING SOUTH).
I was originally planning to retire in 15 years. I may have to recalculate that in Galapagos Tortoise years, but I digress.
Anyway, when I perused the statement and the resulting dry heaves subsided, I decided to call my 401k funds management company, to make some temporary changes that the current market suggests need making, before my 401k -- now a 100.25 c- -- had further help from market 'speculators'.
*Ringing phone followed by a recorded voice*"...Hello, you have reached Howard, Fine and Howard Financial Clusterflocks UnInc...for English, please press 1...for Spanish, press dos...for Islamofascist, press Kaboom...for all others, press "0"...all of our representatives are standing on ledges right now, but your call is very important to us, so please continue to hold, and the first representative we can talk down will take your call in the order received...by the way, the Dow is down 384 points...have a nice day...nyuk nyuk nyuk *BONK*..ow!".
I knowd this was gonna be a long phone call. After a few minutes of "elevator music" -- Queen bellowing their Another One Bites The Dust -- the recording continued..."We appreciate your patience and giving you the business at Howard, Fine and Howard Financial Clusterflocks, UnInc...all representatives continue to be on the ledge...oops, we just had another vacancy...please continue to hold as giving you the business is very important to us. Negotiators will keep trying to get a representative off the ledge in working condition, and your call will be answered in the order received, sometime after that...*how many?...I see two...EYE POKE*...ow".
Now the "elevator music" in between messages was of a 60s vintage, with Blood Sweat and Tears doing Spinning Wheel: "What goes up...must come down...splat..."
With that, I knowd why I was doing business with this 401k service...my kinda sense of humor. I've always laughed in the face of poverty, having been there three times in my life, equal to my concussion count. Wonder which is gonna hit four first?
The hold messages continue: We continue to depreciate your patience and assets...here at Howard, Fine and Howard Financial Clusterflock, UnInc, where the customer is always somewhere on our priority list. Negotiators still haven't talked any representatives down, though we are going to be holding a job fair for some openings in about a week. Got a resume? Financial experience is helpful but isn't necessary here at Howard, Fine and Howard, a Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac fan and protege...please continue to hold, and the first available representative that leaves the ledge in working condition will answer your call in the order received....see that...*SLAP..BONK*...ow".
Now the "elevator music" is playing something 70s-ish...the group I don't recall, but the song is something akin to Our Fund's In Jeopardy, Baby...yep...I like how these guys think, if not invest.
35 minutes later, I get this: "your continued patience is astonishing. Really. We here at Howard, Fine and Howard Financial Clusterflocks, UnInc, would have thought you'd have given up by now. We really like your style. And just as soon as we get one representative to leave the ledge in working condition, we promise he or she's going to come talk to you. Really".
I begin to wonder about that, when Loudan Wainwright III comes on the "elevator music" with Dead Skunk In The Middle of the Road. Now holding for 45 minutes, and this is the message: "Still holding? Damn, you're a trouper. They say that patience is a virtue and money is a vice, so it's good you're blessed with the former, since you don't have much of the latter left. Our negotiators thought they had a representative talked down, until the Dow fell another 250 points, so please continue to exercise that reservoir of virtue that you have, and the next or perhaps only remaining representative to leave the ledge in working condition will take your call in the order received...nyuk nyuk nyuk".
It was then that I took a close look at my statement, and realized I'd called the wrong number, just as Bruce Springsteen completed bellowing his earthly Goin' Down Down Down and the recording came back yet again: "Your patience is greatly appreciated here at Howard, Fine and Howard Financial Clusterflock, UnInc, a party animal with AIG Insurance..our negotiators have finally talked one of two remaining representatives down from the ledge, and she is answering calls while on a Valium IV drip, in the order received...you are caller number 995, please wait to be connected...".
So I called the right company, and salvaged what little was left in about 10 minutes.
Meantime, any unemployed out there? There's at least one funds firm that's looking for financial representatives. A fear of heights is probably an asset, I reckon...