Oh Christmas time. A time of giving, of charity...of stress.
You see, my family decided this year to celebrate Christmas on Martin Luther King day - to avoid the stress of the season. Not having to fight the crowds and getting good discounts after the season sounded good to me. But still, there are some people who will be getting their traditional Christmas gift on (or around) Christmas day.
Which brings me to the fact that I have known for a long time but have never admitted to: I am horrible at gift giving.
I don't exactly understand the whole concept of gift giving. I see things in fairly practical terms. If I need something, I buy it. If I don't need it, I usually don't buy it. So when I am buying for someone else, my whole coordination of reasoning gets all screwy and I end up usually buying someone something terribly inadequate or give them a gift card (or a used one - true story).
So this year, if you get a gift from me, I apologize. If you don't, take it as a compliment. There is NOTHING I could get you that would be in any way useful.
That being said, a few stories to share that are just interesting and amusing.
This guy came into my office the other week and claimed that there was fraud on his checking account. Being the highly trained (and motivated) employee I am, I did my due diligence and looked through his account. I noticed the past few months there seemed to be a charge from this company - in different dollar amounts - on his account. So I asked him if he had ever heard of this company, which we will call "Gyro Pill". He said no. I asked him if he had started any kind of trail or free offer online or through the phone. He said no. So I say, "Well, I'm going to Google this company and see what they do." You could literally hear the air go out of the room.
The results of searching "Gyro Pill" was a nice list of erectile dysfunction and "performance enhancing" bedroom pills. Or as "Curb Your Enthusiasm" puts it: He was juicing.
So trying to not make things "awkward", I again ask him if maybe by chance he had done a free trial with a "supplement" company. Well now he seemed to remember quite vividly signing up for some "Cholesterol reducing pills".
Ah yes. Of course.
So I ask him if he was still receiving any of these "cholesterol pills" and he said that it was a one time deal and should have only cost him $4. Well, being I have seen this charge many times from previous months I told him that if he wanted to dispute this charge he would have to call the company and see if they would refund his unwanted purchase. And I said since you have your cell phone with you, why don't you go ahead and call them.
Needless to say, it was a fairly amusing conversation as he would never quite say what it was he "didn't order" while he was trying to get them to refund his purchase. In the end, they promised to refund his money within 3 days. He was happy. I was entertained.
The next story is one of a little more Christmassy Spirit. A lady had gone to another financial institution and applied for a car loan. She was wanting to purchase a used car for her husband for Christmas. They told her that they could do it, but at a paralyzing 17% interest rate. So she called up and wanted to know if we could do something for her.
I told her she would have to come in so we could run the loan application and to bring the things we needed in order to make a decision. And since we don't price our auto loans by credit risk - we have a flat rate of 4.75% - if we could do something for her, we could save her a lot of money over the time of the loan.
Well she drove to the branch and I ran the application for her. Pulling her credit, she seemed to be a low risk candidate. Her credit had been anchored down due to a small, but outstanding, medical collection. She had previous positive lending history with us and had a very good and steady income and a fairly low debt to income burden.
When we got through the application and to the decision, we were able to pre-approve her for the loan. She was so happy that she jumped across my desk and hugged me.
So in the Spirit of Christmas, don't always look for the reason why you can deny something to someone. Look at the whole picture and find a way - if possible - to make a positive contribution towards individuals and society as a whole. You never know when you will be the one to find yourself in need of someone who will go that extra mile to find a way to help you out.