Apr 28, 2021

Reflections on “the Cruelest Month” as it Comes to an End

“Though April showers have come our way/Our tax returns are now due in May”

By Ed Goldman

As this month wends its way to a conclusion—or, if it’s been an especially bad one for you, grinds its way to a concussion—I’m reminded that in his best known work, “The Waste Land,” American poet T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month.”

I’ve long suspected it was because the IRS told him that dropping the 133-pound Oxford English Dictionary on his foot didn’t qualify as both a medical deduction and continuing-education expense.

Edgy Cartoon

To Sir, Mitt Love

Tax time can be cruel or nervous making for many of us. But doesn’t it seem like years since you’ve seen late-night TV newscasts showing cars lined up at the U.S. Post Office moments before midnight on April 15? So many people E-file or get automatic extensions these days that the collective stress many of us used to feel can now be spread out over a period of months. And, of course, the federal government has generously allowed us to not send in our hard-earned money this year until May 17 (suggested new campaign slogan: “Remember: IRS Rhymes with ‘Why, Largesse!’”).

Of course, if you’re a last-minute filer you’re likely to still be one no matter how many extensions you’re granted. (“It’s only December 15, 2024?! Have these people no mercy?!”) For some reason, this reminds me of when I started working at home fulltime in 1984 and thought I’d now never get to the office late. But I hadn’t taken into account the fact that gridlock can occur just as easily in one’s bedroom or kitchen as on the freeway. In short, procrastination can take many forms (even W-2s).

Because of taxes, April’s always been kind of a bum-rap month. But some pretty interesting things have happened in this “cruelest month.” 

For example, in 1513, Ponce de Leon discovered Florida and sometime later, alligator logos appeared on golf shirts. Historians are divided on whether hideous golf attire was invented before the game itself.

The first Pony Express rider kick-started his horse, bound for Sacramento, in April of 1860. But the service, riders and horses were stabled forever 18 months later, when Wells Fargo, which owned the Pony Express, decided it wasn’t profitable enough. Even so, it had lasted longer than some Hollywood marriages (as do many of these columns). And Wells did manage to rebound a mere 155 years later when regulators fined it for habitually creating fake customer accounts.

The first catcher’s mask was used in a baseball game in April of 1877 and to commemorate the occasion, Willard Romney was given the middle name of Mitt, which, through repeated usage, became his given name. —Okay, that might have happened a bit later. I’m checking on it.

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In April of 1964, when I was 13-and-a-half years old, the Beatles held the first five places on the U.S. singles chart. The songs were “Please Please Me,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Twist and Shout” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” If you rearrange the order of those, you can construct a pretty suggestive haiku. But no matter how clever your creation, I’d advise against your having stood and recited it during Easter Mass or Passover Seder this month. April Fools humor simply has no place in a house of worship or your Aunt Sonya’s eat-in kitchen.

Finally, as we’re learning, April this month promised to be much brighter than April of 2020. Vaccines are working, businesses are reopening and the world is experiencing a surge of something more powerful than any pandemic: hope. I hope your month was filled with sunlight and PG-rated haikus.

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).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank

photo by Phoebe Verkouw

Heroes work here!

Golden Pacific Bank, like so many other businesses, faced significant challenges in the past 16 months or so amid the COVID 19 pandemic. As losses increased, any of our small-business and individual customers experienced a decline in earnings. Too many customers faced temporary shutdowns or worse, resulting from reduced business- and consumer-spending and other, ongoing uncertainties.

Golden Pacific Bank tried to meet customers right at their level of need:

-We contacted them individually to discuss their needs and to create custom- tailored plans to assist their financial challenges as needed; and
-We increased our new commercial and industrial loan customers, and participated in the national PPP lending program.

Golden Pacific Bank was one of the first community banks in the nation to fund millions of dollars in PPP loans.

Our staff remained incredibly loyal to their communities. All of our bank branches stayed open; we had branch employees available for customer assistance all at all hours of operations. Our branch staff wore gloves and masks and took other precautions, but we were absolutely there for our elderly, technically challenged, and remote customers.

We were one-hunded percent present for customers who needed a real smile on a real face in real time. We not only retained customers during this difficult time: our new deposit and customer-accounts ballooned.

About six months ago I ordered “HEROES WORK HERE” signs for each branch and personally delivered them to each branch manager. I’m so proud of our bank and our staff. We continue to demonstrate that there is a role for caring in the communities we serve. As a businesswoman and an experienced banker, I’ll contend that during times of disaster, really caring and being responsive to customers with thoughtful new ways of providing service make good business sense. Having heroes on staff and on hand really helps!

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