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Memoirs of a Minyan: Reality Bites

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The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

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Editor's Note: "Memoirs of a Minyan" is a first-person account that follows Minyanville founder Todd Harrison as he weaves his way through Wall Street and beyond. This e-Book will publish each Wednesday over 18 weeks. Click here to read previous Memoirs chapters.


Chapter 9: Reality Bites

It would be easy to dislike Jim Cramer if he didn't have that childlike giddiness to him.

His warmth and generosity were treasured occurrences and when they appeared, animosity magically dissipated into a melting pot of goodwill. I didn't understand the mood swings at first but when I finally did, it was with empathy rather than acrimony.

It was the middle of the trading day and we were actively moving merchandise back and forth, steadily filling our coffers with profits. I can't tell you exactly where the averages were but suffice to say the mood on the desk was intense as the market slid down a slippery slope.

"Hello, can I speak to Todd Harrison please?" the voice on the other end of the phone asked.

After a brief exchange, the bomb dropped. The call was from the Maui Correctional Facility regarding my father, who managed to dig himself into a deep hole.

As I sat back in my chair and listened to a person I didn't know, I discovered my father was homeless, abusing drugs and in solitary confinement. It had been ten years since we last spoke.

Ten years. A lot happened in my life during that time and evidently, a lot happened to him as well.

As the head trader of a large trading operation, I was intellectually agile and able to make quick, emotionless decisions. On that random day in 2000, I was suddenly numb to the flickering ticks that surrounded me.

Jim, immediately sensing something was wrong, motioned me to his office behind him.

I walked into the glass-enclosed room and sat on the couch across from his desk. Jeff filed in behind me and asked what happened. I explained the situation, or at least what I knew of it. Jim didn't skip a beat. "Go to Maui," he said, "Go take care of what you need to take care of."

I'll never forget that moment. We were in a dogfight in the middle of a financial implosion and the most competitive person I knew urged me to go to Hawaii. By the time I digested what he suggested, he was already on the phone making calls on my behalf.

He contacted an investor in our fund who had connections in Hawaii. By the end of the day, I retained one of the most respected lawyers in Maui and had flights scheduled.

All that was left was to face my father and conquer my demons.

The Other Side of the Rainbow

Not wanting to take the trip alone, I asked my brother to join. Two days later, Adam and I landed in Maui and drove straight to the lawyer's office.

We had both given up on our dad but felt compelled to do something. He was our father and we were the last line of defense.
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