Guest etymologist: My investment banking brother says”
ASAP: a ubiquitous term coming from senior bankers. You might assume it means as fast as humanly possible, as in an all-nighter if necessary. But this is not always the case. For example, sometimes it seems asap is just a banker’s best effort at using the word please. As in: Leave a printout on my chair asap.
I've taken to differentiating between the lower case asap, which means whenever I can get around to it, and the all caps ASAP, which means drop everything else. I figure if a senior banker makes the effort to put ASAP in caps, he might actually mean it.
And there’s no ASAP like the Sunday morning ASAP: A favorite senior banker trick to make sure the team is pleasing the client is to send out an unsolicited email to the client promising something by a specific time without consulting the people who actually have to do the work. I've been woken up on a Sunday morning to a voice mail saying we've promised the presentation to the client by noon, so I should get into the office and crank it out ASAP. Oh, and there better not be any mistakes.
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Nowaday banking has rather a negative status.