“Morning, Julie, I think I will have my tea, please.”
“Sure, one tea coming right up. Anything special on tap for your day?” she asked, trying to prolong the interaction.
“Nah, pretty much the same stuff, different day. At least that is my hope, that nothing ends up burning out of control. I’m sure you can relate when the rushes hit,” he conveyed, actually appreciating a bit of interaction for a change.
“Well, I will keep my fingers crossed that it all works in your favor. Here you go, and have a muffin on the house to insure your good day.” She handed the goods over, then again smiled broadly.
“Thank you. Keep the change,” he conveyed after passing her a five dollar bill.
He went upstairs to his office. He settled in and gathered the information he needed to update the team for the meeting. The meeting went on until almost the lunch hour. Jacob’s cell buzzed with his meeting reminder, and he received a text that the meeting was set to start at noon with directions repeated. Odd that it had an oblique sender number. Not surprising, he decided, as he headed over. It promised to be interesting, and he hoped enlightening.
He arrived at the Rothman building. It was not one of the more famous in New York, but older and established like a stately law firm. This was a building he had not ever seen from the inside. The offices he sought were on the 25th, top floor of the building per the only name on the building directory, Ronnie, Ltd. He had never heard of them, but as he entered the elevator he tried doing a quick Google search on his smart phone. No hits. He made a mental note to research later. He absently wondered if the rest of the building was empty.
The elevator opened to a plush suite, tastefully decorated, that seemed to speak of European autocracy. Rich leathers, tasteful oils of older homes that made him think of Germany or maybe Poland. All browns and burgundy with splashes of gold in the lighting, frames, and tones of the rich carpeting had him feeling he was entering a chateau rather than an office in the heart of Manhattan. Near the window, he spied a woman that looked up from what she was doing as he approached.
“Hello,” he said. “My name is Jacob Michaels, and I have a meeting at noon with a gentleman named Otto.” Then hesitantly, he added, “Can you tell me what your business does, madam?”
He noticed her expensive clothing, beautiful red hair done in a professionally contained way, minimal jewelry, enhancing make up, and gentle grey eyes. Up close she appeared in her fifties rather than the thirties which was his first impression.
“Of course, Mr. Michaels. Welcome. My name is Haddy, Otto’s Executive Assistant,” she said with a welcoming smile. “He is expecting you, and lunch arrived a few minutes ago. Your timing is perfect. Let me escort you to his offices. Ronnie, Ltd., has been in business a long time. We handle discreet customer financial requests. We have been in this building for thirty or so years. I am sure Otto will answer all your questions.”
She rose, and her aristocratic breeding was conveyed. She almost reminded him of Granny, walking like a duchess. He followed her and took in the surroundings. They passed a couple of rooms, each one appointed in the same formal manner. For a few seconds, he was concerned about his casual slacks and shirt, but, hey, he had no idea what this was about or who this Otto guy was. At the end of the hall, the door was open, and obviously the most elegant area so far came into view.
Standing at the sideboard was a man Jacob presumed was Otto. Jacob did a rapid assessment of the man who stood almost to his height. He commanded respect, with a stock of full white hair, penetrating blue eyes, and obviously older, not terribly fit, but not blatantly overweight. Age-wise he could easily be from sixty to eighty, yet nowhere near frail looking. The man emitted a sense of knowledge and power as he approached.
“Ah, Jacob. Welcome. Glad we could do this over lunch. Thank you, Haddy, that will be all for now.”
He extended his hand and provided a firm hand shake. His accent was, to Jacob’s ear, perhaps Polish or German, with an obvious clear mastery of English. Otto’s face conveyed little, but he seemed approachable.
“I hope that lunch is suitable. I am sure you have many questions as the young always do. You are, however, to be commended for coming here with so little background knowledge. Likely you are feeling a bit like a fish out of water. Come select your lunch, and we will talk. I have wanted to meet you face-to-face for some time.” He gestured Jacob to the lunch selection and indicated his chair.
“Thank you, this looks good. I believe I owe you a thank you for my DEFCON ticket, hotel coverage, and airline ticket,” Jacob indicated, filling his plate with foods that all seemed like his favorites. Sitting down, he started, “So what, Mr. err. . .”
“Please call me Otto, all my friends do.” Frowning slightly, he added, “You are certainly welcome for the ticket, but I cannot take credit for the hotel or airline ticket. Good idea. Wish I’d thought of it. I will mention it to Haddy.”
“Okay, Otto, I am at a loss. How do we know each other, and what does Ronnie, Ltd., do? I do not recall any dealings with this firm.”
Jacob struggled in his mind to place the old guy into a logical slot and yet schooled his face from revealing his uncertainty. Thanks Mom, he silently thought.
“We really have never met, Jacob. I and my associates, however, have been following your career since you entered MIT. You came to our attention with your academic success and, of course, the security program contribution to Open Source that you have done. I did send you the t-shirt which was voted on by committee. I had hoped to meet you at DEFCON, but something unexpected came up that changed my plans. I was pleased that you accepted the ticket and went to Las Vegas. Outside of not meeting you there, I myself was secretly glad I couldn’t go. That is not my favorite place.” Otto stated all of this, as if intuitively obvious.
“Fortunately for me, you and I work in the same vicinity so having the meeting here actually makes more sense, more relaxed and private. This first meeting, of what I hope will be many, will barely satisfy your curiosity. I can see all the questions racing through your mind. My suggestion is that you demonstrate your patience, which I know you have. I can tell you though; you have a bright future, my boy, whatever your choices. I am hoping that over time I can convince you to join our firm. I think you would be a good fit.”
“You’re right, sir. I have lots of questions,” Jacob continued, conveying no panic in his voice.
He also filed away for now the hotel and airline ticket issue. He would think about that later.
“I would like to know who you are and what is this company? Why me? How you got my identity information?”
“Those, of course, are the obvious questions. Let me provide some background that may help, though likely not enough for your bright mind.” Otto chuckled some then continued.
“Ronnie, Ltd., is a part of a much larger organization that the original partners established near the close of World War II. This particular entity deals with our wealthier customers in the States for investments and financial endeavors. The Headquarters of our larger organization is in Switzerland. With that country’s financial discretion and neutrality, I suspect this doesn’t surprise you. Different branches we have established in key markets include finance, investments trading, information and technology, and real estate practices. Our clients cover the whole realm of the higher, powerful echelon, as it were.
“We are, as I think you say here in the states, a family-controlled business. Our interests in you are primarily your abilities in technology, programming and security. Our business focuses on keeping our clients in balance.”
Watching Jacob for a reaction and finding none, he continued. “Your abilities could fill a gap that I have noticed exists in our organization. Technology seems to be the way of the future. Though I have personally had experience in information gathering and security layers, it is not at the level of someone younger, like you. Others in the organization have reviewed your profile and believe you may fit. We are a cautious, tight knit group though, and require some levels of commitment before extending offers or fully opening the drapes.”
As Otto provided that background, Jacob’s mind was trying to categorize the organization. The broad brush 30 thousand foot level overview was interesting but very vague. Certainly not the details he needed for clear understanding such as origin, charter, and competitors. He couldn’t decide if this was a firm that would be valuable to his career, but the global reach and areas mapped to his long range goals. Without a doubt, this man would give nothing away unintended, but two could play at that game.
“So are you saying, essentially, that you are an investment firm for global customers? Or are you more nefarious in your objectives?” Jacob asked.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish