Jan 3, 2020

Full Disclosure: Golden 1

By Ed Goldman

Happy New Year! In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m writing to tell you that roughly a month-and-a-half ago, I received a financial windfall from an institution I’ve written about favorably a few times.

I feel so…dirty.
The Golden 1 Credit Union—which has assets of more than $12 billion, according to itself—distributed about $20 million of those to 1.1 million customer accounts. It was its way of thanking us for our loyalty over the years.

Well, rather than forsake the money or forward it to a favorite charity, which would have mitigated at least a bit of the ethical dilemma I’m facing, I greedily accepted the payoff.

It came to about $8.

Now, please believe that when I heard about the approaching bonanza, my first thought was of others. This is just the way I roll. In fact, before thinking it through, I blurted out to my wife, “Eight dollars?! Now Sis can have that operation!”

Then I remembered I don’t have a wife —or a sister, for that matter, it therefore being a pretty safe bet that she didn’t need an operation.
I guess I’ve watched too many old movies in which a gangster falls for a disabled youngster and, just by sharing some of his ill-gotten pelf, is able to restore the kid’s sight, hearing, mobility or spelling—and sometimes, in a Hallmark production, all of them. In “High Sierra,” the film I was mostly thinking of, it doesn’t end well for the gangster, nicely played by Humphrey Bogart, with his toupee featuring gray flecks to indicate either this guy’s done time in The Big House or they partially electrocuted him then went home, its being a flex day.
Now, please believe that when I heard about the approaching bonanza, my first thought was of others…
In some of the other films, the intermediary to whom the gangster hands the dough is the kindly Irish priest he went to school with. “Be gob and be jabbers, Boy-o, the good Laird will smile on ye for this!” says the priest. “Come t’ confession t’morrah, Boy-o!”
“I’m Jewish, Padre. Remember? My people confess only once a year, on Yom Kippur.”

“Ah, yes, Boy-o. In English, that’s the Day of Skipping Happy Meals, correct?”

“So close, Padre. So close.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I think the Golden 1’s notion of give-back is admirable. But even at the holidays, when credit card balances ascend to their limits, $8 wasn’t going to prove much of a gold strike. If the credit union had instead given out artisan-coffee gift cards, even that might have smacked a little more of largesse, don’t you think?

And if the institution would stop renewing its annual $100 bazillion naming rights to downtown Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center—where the NBA’s Sacramento Kings have not been losing every game this season—I think we could have brought that amount up to as much as 10 bucks. Now, that’s a windfall!

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Ed Goldman’s Books

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).