It wasn’t just the humiliation of being the second-largest recipient of TARP funds, the discomfort that came with being dogged by questions about bonuses given to Merrill Lynch, or that the combination of the above meant he was slowly losing his grip on the position he had held as Bank of America’s chairman and CEO that prompted Ken Lewis to throw up his hands and say “fuck it” this past September. This weekend, the Journal gave us a revelatory look into the days leading up to his resignation.
First, there was the heat he was taking from his mother, Byrdine, who was apparently getting the stink-eye in the local Shop Rite about her son’s taking of TARP.
Mr. Lewis told investors in the meeting she had pressed him concerning when the bank planned to pay back the government.
Then he was attacked by bears.
On August 21, his wife filed a report with the Colorado Division of Wildlife saying a small, dark-brown bear had broken into their vacation home the night before, through unlocked French doors in a bedroom connected to the backyard, and rummaged through the refrigerator and the cabinets. The report didn’t say whether the Lewises were home.
He told himself it wasn’t personal, but it still felt like a violation. And then there was one more incident. In late September, Lewis called the bank’s directors to a meeting.
At one point, he ambled to a window and looked toward Central Park, saying nothing.
The Journal doesn’t elaborate on what Lewis was looking at here, but from the positioning of the Bank of America towers and the sparse leaves on the trees in fall, we can deduce with some certainty that what he saw below was the Central Park Dance Skaters Association, and had the thought that we ourselves have had many times before: Why am I putting up with this shit when I could be skating? Then he announced his resignation.