In my petrochemical reporting days, I would find myself trying to reconcile the often contrasting versions of reality offered by producers, traders, brokers, distributors and end-users. Whereas energy market reporting involves talking to a whole host of extremely busy employees of mainly banks and energy companies. Apart from this, it is hard to tell the jobs apart.
Perhaps this is best summed up by my updated response to that unfortunate favourite question of new acquaintances: “What do you do for a living, then?”
Before, this would involve me grappling with my shallow understanding of where exactly it was that those petrochemicals I reported on ended up in real world sense. Once, the question was posed by an especially attractive lady, to whom I responded: “Er, you know that nail varnish you’re wearing? Well, it contains an organic compound for which I write a weekly price report.” She had turned and walked away before I could say “ethyl acetate.”
More recently, I was asked the same question, only this time by a hippie at a music festival. This time I kept it short: “I write about energy.” “Wow,” she said. “That’s cool! You mean like cosmic energy?” “No,” I replied. “I mean like gas, electricity, coal?” She had floated off before I could say “renewables.”