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I think this is a mistake. A huge mistake. Today in the CU Journal is an article titled Treasury Bailout: CUs Want Coverage Under The TARP.

Here’s an excerpt: 

John Annaloro, president of the Washington CU League, noted that after Treasury infused $125 billion into the nation’s nine largest banks, it has agreed to invest another $35 billion into an additional 20 regional banks, with more funds promised for troubled banks. “It’s my contention that credit unions should be eligible for some of those funds,” Annaloro told The Credit Union Journal yesterday

Especially concerning for Washington credit unions, said Annaloro, was news that Washington Federal Savings is receiving $230 million in new capital under the Treasury program. “Our credit unions are worried about how that might affect their ability to compete, with rates on loans, rates on deposits, and all of that.”

I don’t know about you but this article reads like, “Why does HE get to crash the car and I don’t?” 

Um, because crashing the car is not a great idea. It’ll leave a mark – on YOU and the car.

Thoughts?

She was the last one to board the plane. Of course she had carry-on luggage and the bins were full in first class. But I hopped up and helped her rearrange to fit her bag. She thanked me profusely – uh oh, a talker. I speak for a living, and I must admit, when I’m flying to work, I talk to no one. It’s my down time. I’m borderline anti-social.

But she wasn’t. In the short time it took us to pull away from the gate and taxi to the runway I learned that she spoke 5 languages, was born in Munich but moved to the US when she was four, lived in Philly, Naples and now Seattle. Her husband’s a lawyer, does tons of pro bono work. She left her cell phone at home (I let her use mine before take-off) to call said husband to remind him to cancel her hotel reservation for today. Then I learned she was flying to Philly to obtain a signature on a legal document from her father who, sadly, is blind. She reads 15 books a week, had read three the night before and thinks our current Pope is one of the smartest. Her grandmother has a crush on him and when he comes up in conversation she shakes her head and says in her German accent, “Vut a Vaste!” 

She learned nothing about me other than I’m a good listener and know how to nod my head and smile at the right time. 

Luckily she stopped speaking at take off. Whew. Put the dark glasses on, ear buds in, blanket covering every inch of her body, she quickly became a quiet cocoon. My favorite kind of traveling partner.

 

Until breakfast.

 

We had the usual choice, hot breakfast (omelette) or cold breakfast (fruit plate). I think it was how the flight attendant described it “hot” or “cold”…..and we’re headed to Chicago at 6am that made everyone order the eggs. 

Apparently there were not enough to go ‘round so she was back telling my chatty seat mate that she was very sorry, but would she mind getting a fruit plate. This gal looks at me like……”SHE gets eggs and I don’t….” Sensing this the flight attendant reluctantly explained that the food is doled out based on miles flown (I’m pushing the one million mile mark – give me the hot stuff). 

This is where she turned from Chatty Cathy to (insert sinister music) Airline PassengerFrom Hell (now insert Psycho shower scene screech).

“I will NOT eat the fruit plate. I am not a big fan as I had that LAST week and it landed me in the hospital!” Woah. Snap! 

The flight attendant, who was very empathetic asked her if she contacted United after that incident, ”They don’t care,” she replied.

I got my eggs. Happy.

Minutes later, she punches the Flight Attendant button. Oh no……..”Um, excuse me, may I get a glass of water WITHOUT ice” she exclaims after turning up her nose. “I don’t do ice in my beverages.” 

After I was finished with my breakfast (intently watching the stupid movie so she would be less likely to talk to me) the button gets pushed again. Now she would like to purchase one of the snack boxes (available to those in coach). 

Okay, now here’s the only thing I think they did wrong – they charged her the $6 for the snack box. 

But it gets better.

She pulls out the Hemispheres magazine, flips to the snack box page description and starts pulling out all the items and comparing them to the picture. Button on again. Very patient attendant is back….”These items are not what are promised on page 189.” Again, very sorry, would she like to try a different one. And off she is sent to get a different box.

And now the seriously scary seat mate leans over and whispers to me as the weary worker walks away, “She has no idea how much trouble she is in – I have been hired by United Airlines to secret shop First Class.” 

It kept going – my tea’s too cold. I need five sugars and two creams for each cup and keep them coming…..I was exhausted.

I don’t know how I feel about secret shoppers to tell the truth. I’m passionate about good service but this felt wrong. I feel you have to earn good service. There’s a certain minimum requirement to be a decent patron. When you cross that line to beeeoootch…..well, as a supervisor, I will allow the smile to droop, the orders to be fulfilled, the worker to show up. United does not pay their workers for this abuse. I couldn’t take it.

I knew this gal would have to use the restroom and that’s when I did it. I told the flight attendant she was being shopped!! Really. She just chuckled and said, “Well, I wondered what was going on. She seemed really pleasant at first and then all hell broke loose.” 

Is it time to review your secret shopper program?

I love the dump, er, transfer station. I love to stand at the edge of the pit and heave my crap into the steaming hole while the man in the caged-topped bulldozer smashes and compacts everyone’s “junk” into a giant cube that is carted away in a truck to “that place” we don’t like to think about. I love that moment when the last piece of your mind is swept from the bed of the truck. Ahhh…..freedom.

I love to donate clothes I’ll never fit into again (some with tags still on), souvenir shot glasses from obscure places like Fargo, North Dakota, coffee mugs with funny sayings, that framed picture of the Grand Canyon, that old bookcase that will look great in some college kid’s dorm. I like to think someone will go crazy for that Star Trek lunch box WITH the thermos still intact. Not to mention the home brew kit with all the parts and owner’s manual.

Where do we get all this stuff? Did it mean something to us at one time? When did we fall out of love with this stuff?

I have too much stuff.

Today I ran across a picture of my mom in a bag of framed photos. When my mom died, besides a few clothes and pieces of costume jewelry, the only other thing she owned were these photos. Because of some unfortunate relationship choices she had nothing. At the time that seemed tragic to me. Not because I wanted any of her “stuff” but because it seemed (or so I thought) that she was without. Without stuff.

Now I get it. That’s how we should all leave this world. Not with a house full of stuff that someone has to go through, fight over, or haggle with strangers at an estate sale. We should die with our pictures and our memories.

LA was burning last week. One person that had to flee their house said “All I was able to grab were my pictures.” And your life. Isn’t that all we need?

I think I’m going to pack for this move like my house is on fire. Memories and pictures.

Oh, and my books, and music and that couch, and okay, my sleigh bed….and coffee pot……and that cool lamp…………….

In loving memory of mom. I miss you.


Since the Bail Out Bill* was introduced, I’ve been in Vancouver BC, Roanoke, Virginia, Salt Lake City, Utah, Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, Port Jefferson, New York, Issaquah, Washington and now I’m in San Diego, California.

No, I’m not running for office, this is the peak speaking/planning session season.

Anyway – rather than just launching in with the hired topic, it was decided that we not ignore the economic crisis, but rather, weave it into the presentation/facilitation.

There was some hesitancy to ask questions at first. No one wants to feel like they’re wrong or ignorant. A show on FOX recently interviewed a few PhDs and they admitted that it’s hard for THEM to make sense of it all.

I think we need to talk. It may not be politically correct but here goes.
Questions I could not answer:

Why are credit unions included in this bill? What should we tell our members?

Could we have still benefited from the increase to our share insurance fund without being on the bill?

Why are CUNA and NAFCU talking merger right now? Isn’t that a distraction?

Who advised Dan Mica? Should there have been a credit union vote?

Will we be united or divided on this issue?

Blogs are meant to be conversations. Please comment.

I don’t have the answers….but I know there are tons of questions.

These are troubling times.

* aka
Troubled Asset Relief Plan (TARP)
HR 3997
Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

I live in Seattle and have been watching with some interest a campaign from Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union. They call it the 7 principles. Their take on the difference between a credit union and a bank. It’s important to note that they launched this PRIOR to the economic melt-down we’re experiencing.

They are trying to re-educate the world about credit unions. Not with the usual tired old rhetoric, “member owned financial institution” but rather with the founding principles. The seven principles.

Tomorrow they are going to create their own mini “run on the bank” by giving away $10 to 200 people and asking them what they would do for others with the $10.00.

It’s kind of a “pay it forward” focus group lalapalooza and it’s brilliant. Wow.

Thanks Seattle Metropolitan for inspiring us in these crazy times.

Edward Filene…..what would he say about this economic crisis?

I imagine he would point out that this is why credit unions started in the first place. Banks had gotten out of control, they didn’t care about the well-being of the average American and only catered to big business. Loan sharks were rampant, the depression was looming. He stepped up and began convincing people to pool their resources, take them out of banks and to form credit unions.

He called it “people helping people” and that together we can do more than we could do separately. Those who have the means could safely deposit their money in their credit union, so that those that needed to borrow (for provident and productive purposes only) could have access to reasonable credit. There was a kind of shame built in if you did not repay. A good kind, because you were, after all, borrowing money from friends and co-workers (just in a less awkward way).

The goal was to help families live within their means and to borrow for the things they needed, not necessarily wanted. Like a refrigerator, a car, washer/dryer, seed. Promoting thrift is back, with a vengeance. Saving for a down-payment on a home (and car) will be the norm again. Paying yourself first when signing up for direct deposit to your checking – you remember…drop a little in savings? Christmas club accounts that take an act of Congress to withdraw from (and we all know how hard that can be) will return.

Good times are ahead for credit unions Edward would say. It’s a rebirth of sorts.

CUES has emerged as the modern-day wealthy Boston merchant IMHO. They are urging executives to come to their own Estes Park (okay, it’s Vegas now) and have the important discussion about where we go now. This is an historic time. If your credit union cannot afford to register for this event, it does not matter. CUES says “Pay what you can” because this is that important.

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