"Dad and the Corporate Directory"
I have to admit that this is one of my favorite stories about my father.
My dad was a branch manager for the biggest bank in Connecticut in the 1970's. Dad took really good care of his customers, and would do anything that he could to help them. And... he didn't let much get in his way.
One of my dad's small business customers needed a loan. I don't remember the business or the circumstances, but dad knew every one of his customers. He knew a lot about them. Dad knew enough about the business, and the person behind the business that he approved the loan.
Dad sent the paperwork for this loan to the main office in Hartford. They had to do some process before the money was released. I have no idea what that process was....
The next day, dad got a call from the main office. The man calling my father said that he had received the paperwork but wasn't able to process the loan. Dad pressed for a reason. The dialogue went something like this:
Main Office Guy: "Well, Mr. Wistrom, I see on the loan paperwork that the owner has only scored 28 points on our loan criteria worksheet, and he needs 35 points to be approved."
DAD: "Huh! Well that's somethin'."
a slight pause...
DAD: "You don't by any chance have the Corporate Directory handy, do you?"
Main Office Guy: "Yes of course! I have one right here."
DAD: "Is it the one dated Feb 1, 1971?"
Main Office Guy: "Yes it is!"
DAD: "Could you please turn to page 64..."
Main Office Guy: "Yes...."
DAD: "Now look down the left column about 3/4 of the way down the page."
Main Office Guy: "Yes..."
DAD: "Do you see where it says: ART WISTROM?"
Main Office Guy: "Yes..."
DAD: "Now slide your finger to the right... What does it say there?"
Main Office Guy: "Officer / Branch Manager"
DAD: "Exactly! I'm an officer of the bank! Put the loan through now!"
Dad hung up. And knowing my father, after that phone was securely in it's cradle, dad would have muttered: "Ya Jerk!" (That was my father's dismissal word: JERK!)
The loan went through, but apparently my dad got a call from his Vice President - or whoever had the unlucky responsibility of managing my father to corporate rules. Dad was then give a bit of a lecture about the loan scoring system and why it was put in place, and how it needs to be adhered to, etc. etc.
Dad waited for him to finish. Dad said that he had just finished reading the bank's annual statement. He told this VP that he had read about the bank losing $5,000,000 in a real estate venture that had crumbled. Dad suggested that the VP spend a bit more time worrying about the millions that the bank had lost instead of worrying about the small business loans that my dad had every confidence would be repaid.
This particular event happened in the final few years before my dad retired. I have no idea how long dad had spoken his mind in the bank. Was it something that he grew into with age, or was it a part of him all along? I'll never know. But I do know that his stories gave me the courage to call things the way I saw them. There are times that I bit my tongue, and other times when I probably should have. I was lucky to have a father that modeled and shaped the values that I hold to this day.
Till Next Week!