By Trina Otero
Over the years I have met diverse people, and I have heard numerous, interesting stories. I would like to share a recent one with you–
A few months ago I met Henry*. I knew right away how friendly he was — his communication methods and style gave it away. Henry is a very friendly and polite man, who at the time worked for a global financial company.** I learned he was here temporarily to finish some work in the city and to visit friends, but he quickly opened up to me and told me how he was growing unhappy at work. He was required to do some pretty amazing things, such as working with people from different fields all around the world, but he just couldn’t agree with one ethical dilemma — he was being paid to look at statistics and to create loans with a low probability of borrowers repaying them. In basic terms — he was being paid to screw people over. I listened in shock as he told me how the company only cares about profits, and I stared at him open-mouthed while he told me the nature of financial institutions. Henry revealed that banks, including his employer, offer people money for their property if they [banks] want to redevelop an area. If homeowners don’t accept, the banks hire thugs and other criminals to make the area unbearable to live in.
Henry confided that banks also take over crime-ridden areas, redevelop and reinvent them [also known as gentrification], and then advertise their claims that they are safe for families to live in. He added that his employer had done business with terrorist groups in the Middle East.
I was completely jarred as I listened to his stories. He told me it was weighing heavy on his conscious, and his personal values conflicted with the company’s values. I encouraged him to do what he felt was right and to do what would make him happy. Before I left that day, he told me, “The next time I see you I probably will not be working for them anymore.”
I saw Henry a month later, and one of the first questions I asked was, “Did you quit?” And yes, indeed, he had quit! I was astonished when he told me he felt motivated after he talked with me the first day we met. I’m surprised — I know I left that day feeling more enlightened about another person’s life, but I had no idea that I had made any kind of impact. I am touched. This shows that we all impact one another in so many ways and do not even realize it most of the time.
Now, Henry has left to start a new chapter in his life, working at a new establishment. He seemed very excited about this new opportunity.
*Henry’s real name will not be shared for privacy/safety reasons.
**I will not reveal the company name for my safety. He warned me that lawyers from his former company have covered up issues like this in the past, and they have targeted people who have tried to speak out about their unethical actions.