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Red Ink and Green Beer

March 15, 2009

shamrockblue-martiniRed ink never flows on Rocky Humbert’s trading desk.

The paucity of red ink does not mean Rocky’s trading is flawless. Rather, Rocky prohibits red pens for the same reasons that others avoid walking under ladders, crossing in front of black cats, or opening umbrellas while indoors.

Twenty-four years ago, Rocky acquired the no-red-ink-in-the-trading-room superstition from Mr. Michael O’Brien — a talented foreign exchange trader and wonderful fellow — who made billions for Goldman Sachs as he rode the dollar trend from 1985 to 1986.

Mr. O’Brien had a taste for Guinness, and an ear for laughter. One never knew whether the no-red-ink rule was a farce, but Rocky accepted the dictum without question; and religiously follows it to this day.

Rocky recently stumbled across a recipe for “green beer” (to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,) and immediately thought of Mr. O’Brien.

Mr. O’Brien taught Rocky that the proper way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is with BLUE, not green. In fact, “St. Patrick’s Blue,” was the original color, and the “wearing of the green” only recently became popular. (In the 1750’s.)

So tomorrow evening, while the riff-raff quaff their green beer at the bar, you’ll find Rocky sipping a “Blue Martini” in a quiet booth at the rear of the pub. (And he’ll write his day’s trading tickets in blue, rather than the usual black ink.)

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  1. A fan
    March 19, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Recently received a request to sign a legal document (related to adding authors onto a patent) in blue ink, and not in black.
    Is this to prove that the original is indeed the original? Never heard of this before, and always thought that black was better because it reproduces more clearly. Red probably works just as well, but light blue is known not to copy well (and used to be used in the newspaper business to mark up photolithographic copy before computers.)

  2. March 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    To A Fan: If the lawyers kick you around, perhaps black-and-blue ink may be called for.

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