No. 540



Do you ever feel like you are in the wrong business? If my primary goal in life was making or earning money, I would sure feel this way. I say this because I have figured out the group of people in our country today who are making the most money.
Before I share this little bit of wisdom with you, let me tell you this money-related story about a friend of mine. This friend, even though I have not seen him in a long time, is Grover Cooper. For many years Grover was a school superintendent in a number of eastern Arkansas school districts. By mere chance, he happened to be the superintendent of schools at Westside Public Schools near Jonesboro, Arkansas, on a very fateful day.
If you don't recognize this name, it's one of those unfortunate schools where two young boys ambushed and killed a teacher, four students and wounded 10 others on March 24, 1998. That was a sad day for millions of Americans. Anyway, back to Grover Cooper and my money story. Grover said he was being interviewed by a school board for a new job and he told the members of the board, "money is not the most important thing to me, but it is in the top five."
To continue with my earlier thought, the people I think are making the most money today are bankers. In our community there is a bank, branch or ATM on every corner, and several under construction as I write these words.
The reason I have given you this background is because of a story I heard the late Bob Murphy tell many years ago, and I heard my pastor tell it again just recently. This story happened many years ago, before the days of bank deregulation, and there were only a couple of banks in this small Texas community. One day Sam, an old farmer, went into the bank and asked to speak to the president. After he was ushered into the president's office, Sam shut the door behind him.
He said, "Bill, I've got some good news and I have got some bad news. Which do you want to hear first?" Bill said, "Why don't you give me the bad news first?" Sam said, "OK, you remember the $400,000 loan you made me to buy my farm?" Bill acknowledged that he did. Sam continued, "Well, we have had an awful tough year and I am not going to be able to pay anything on that loan. I can't pay you any interest or anything on the principal."
Sam continued, "Do you remember the $200,000 loan you made me to buy my equipment, the tractor, combine, disks and the other stuff?" Bill said, "Yes I remember and I have the paperwork right here." "Well Bill, I'm sorry to tell you that my cotton and soybean yield was down to almost nothing this year and I can't pay you anything on that loan either. I can't pay you anything on the interest or the principal." At this point Bill had a sad, dejected look on his face and he said, "Is that all the bad news?"
Sam said, "Not quite. Do you remember the $80,000 loan you made me to buy seed and fertilizer?" Bill said, "I sure do." Sam said, "Well, same sad story. You know that things have been terribly dry around here this year, and after getting the seed up and applying the fertilizer, that hot sun just wilted it all right there on the stalk. As a result, I'm not going to be able to pay you anything on the interest and I'm not going to be able to pay anything on the principal."
Bill said, "Is that all the bad news?" Sam said, "Yeah, that's it." Bill said, "Well, what's the good news?" Sam said, "The good news is that I'm going to keep on banking with you."
I have a lot of friends in the banking business and I'm sure every one of them would tell you that you just can't beat those loyal customers. When I think of banks, it reminds me of the theme of our state parks system, "Aren't you glad we got-em?"
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")