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What to do when Wall Street comes knocking at your door

Jackie Mirandola Mullen | Sunday, October 5, 2008

The $700 billion bailout bill has some everyday Americans worried. Everyone is having a hard time scrounging up the money for their heating, food and gas bills. Politicians keep reminding us of how the evils of Wall Street are hurting all of us. So what do you do when Wall Street comes and asks for a few billion of what you have left over?I’ve put together a handy guide to help you out. It can be a pocket-guide, too, if you just rip this page out of The Observer and stick it in your pocket. Laminate it if you are particularly worried about how to deal with Wall Street, or if you live in the New York area.First, What does Wall Street look like? Well, it has big, nasty, pointy teeth, the better to eat us with, my dears. Don’t let the teeth alarm you. They probably just belong to its comb; Wall Street is very worried about its outward appearance.What time of day can you expect Wall Street to come around? Usually early in the morning – and always synchronized to Eastern Standard Time. Actually, it stays up through the middle of the night, as well. This requires constant vigilance on our part!What does Wall Street want from you? Money! (Come on, that was too easy.)What language does Wall Street speak? Numbers. And politics. If you know the exact definition of “points,” then you’re golden. If you don’t, welcome to Wall Street.What will Wall Street say to me? It will probably start with something friendly. Wall Street has very refined manners, and usually addresses you politely. The conversation will be quick and to the point. Do not, under any circumstances, hand over financial information. Wall Street may try to get an idea of your assets, but keep them well-hidden.How should I conduct myself while conversing with Wall Street? It is best to remain vague and fake a limited knowledge of economics and the current financial crisis. Important! Wall Street itself does not understand exactly how Wall Street works. It will maintain its friendliness if you let it believe it understands its inner functions. This is confusing for us as well as for Wall Street, but do not try to know more than the monster – it can sense bull like few others.What are some key words to beware of? Blank check. Bailout. Overhaul. Stimulus Package. If Wall Street uses any of these phrases, shut the door immediately and call Ben Bernanke.How can I protect my house against Wall Street? Well, don’t do anything that requires a large capital investment, because Wall Street will see to it that you can not get a loan. It is better to strip your house of any valuables, and keep the rest covered in hippie paraphernalia.Where should I keep my cash? In a flower pot. Living things may scare the beast away. But actually, now that I’ve told all of you that, Wall Street knows too. So just be creative. Remember, if you can hope, you can fight greed. If you didn’t know that, listen to the next presidential debate. Should I give it any money? There are a few schools of thought on this one. Some believe appeasement will quell the beast and send it away to your neighbor less angry. However, it has been proven to only want more money if you give it anything at all. Perhaps give it a scratch-off lottery ticket as a way to move it to less harmful forms of gambling.Are my children safe? Don’t worry about the kids. Just don’t let them play Monopoly anymore.And finally, if Wall Street comes and has money to give you, accept it. Perhaps the monster can be dangerous, but if Wall Street’s going to help you profit, take advantage.

Jackie Mirandola Mullen is a junior History and German major. She spends her time warning society of its figurative enemies. She can be reached at jmirando@nd.eduThe views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necesarily those of The Observer.