Friday, October 2, 2015


I first posted this in December 2013, and recently Doug heard about the post, thought it was pretty accurate, but left out one item.

Here is the correction: Instead of leaving his partner, Jim, in the car, they both started to make their way across the field. When Doug saw the bull occupying the pasture with them, he whispered, "Jim," but Jim didn't hear him. A little louder, "Jim," but no response. Finally, "JIM!!!" but when Doug took his eyes off the bull and searched for Jim, he was making long strides in those wing tips. Doug remembers thinking that his London Fog was blowing back, nearly parallel to the ground just like in a cartoon. He and the bull, just the two of them.

The rest of it is pretty much the same, but it was good to talk to Doug, to hear about how successful the bank has been in the 30 years since I left (when I joined the trust department in 1975, there was $100 million under investment management and they are at $2.3 billion now!!).

Here is the original post:

I was amused the first time I heard this, and over the many intervening years, the thought of it has given me further chuckles.

Doug came to the bank as a college guy, long hair, somewhat "hippie," but after all, it was the time. Soon he took on the look of the rest of the folks at the workplace, moved up the corporate ladder and did very well. In the middle, though, he took on one of the jobs that was not sought after--repo man. Subsequently, the bank quit making loans that required this kind of activity.

As the low man on the totem pole whose job it was to contact customers who were delinquent in their car payments, he had an unpleasant job (all of the time) and dangerous (some of the time). Guns were drawn, and those times were not amusing at all. But the late winter episode in rural South Dakota is the one that sticks in my mind.

This was one that was very delinquent. They had been unable to ascertain the location of the customer or the car, and winter had delayed a lot of leg work. Finally, they had a location in rural South Dakota which was not far from the city in those days, and still is not far even today. A pair of repo men drove out there only to find that the long driveway was still drifted shut despite the more mild weather of on-coming spring. Doug thought it was probably fruitless, but necessary to do the job right, so he shrugged on his long London Fog, decided the wingtips could suffer, determined that a path through the adjacent pasture would be better than slogging through the deep snow in the driveway and away he went. The barbed wire fence is familiar to all of us in that part of the world, and easily negotiated, so he trudged away across the pasture and left his partner smoking and relaxing in the snug confines of the car.

Nearly to the trailer house, about to climb through the next fence, he discovered that he had neglected to identify the occupant of the pasture--a bull. With horns. And it appeared to be distraught over his violation of his territory. You are not supposed to run, but the fence was close, so he ran and rather than offering a target for the bull by climbing through, he climbed on top of the fence, about to jump over when out from under the trailer emerged two big dogs.

And they seemed to be upset, too. Perched on top of the fence with threats ahead and behind, the "lady" of the home emerged with a child on her hip and another clenched to her leg. "What do you want," she said, but not as politely.

He glanced at the shed where a shell of a car with chickens inside looked like the one they were supposed to repo. "Ma'am, you're not going to believe this, but I want your car." She said, "Take it, and if you find my husband, take him too," again, not said quite so politely.

From his position of power and authority, Doug offered an "executive decision,"-- "If you call your dogs off, I'll leave you alone." Seemed as though the snow-covered driveway offered the best path back to the car, his partner and a good warm office.

I have never been to that exact location, but I see it clearly in my mind's eye. The late-winter snow, the whole vision of Doug perched on the fence, the weary mom and the dilapidated trailer are vivid in my imagination as are the words, "Ma'am, you're not going to believe this, I want your car."

My guess is that Doug finds his job a bit better than those days in rural South Dakota.

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