Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On Dad and the Law--Part V-A--About Gavin

As I mentioned previously, Tom Boyle having a law degree but never actually going into court to sue people did not have much of an effect on Dad, but it did have a great affect on my brother, Gavin. Now Gavin, being one of those people that everyone always says will Amount To Something, decided that the very best way to do that would be to go to law school. But, of course, my dad warned him against that saying all you did was make enemies and nobody liked you and such like. Well, Gavin took that to heart and wondered what he could do, since he had already spent four years in law school. And just when he was on the point of despair, he remembered Tom Boyle, who I discussed in my previous essay. Of, course, even without the help of Stephen Covey to warn him, he realized that the demand for lawyers to adjust insurance awards down to less-worldly-causing amounts was getting very limited, but he decided to ask my Uncle Milford if there was anything like that he(Gavin) could look into. Well, Uncle Milford was a sort of big-wig at the state so he suggested that Gavin trot up to the State Capitol Building and pop into a few offices and tell them that he(Uncle Milford) had sent him(Gavin). So he did that and he hadn't popped into very many offices when a man said to him. "Do you know anything about the laws dealing with banks?" And Gavin responded in a very humble tone of voice, "Of course, I have just finished four years at law school. I know all about laws dealing with banks." So the man said, "Well we need someone to help the man who regulates the banks in this state to regulate the banks in this state, so since you know all about the laws dealing with banks, you are hired." Well, naturally, Gavin was very happy and so he went home and told his wife, Libby, the good news and took her out to dinner, which was a very good thing because after four years of college and then four years of law school, they were both getting pretty thin.

Well, after a few months of being the assistant bank regulator, it was clear to everyone--or, at least, everyone who mattered, that Gavin had a real knack for this sort of thing, so they told the head regulator to go regulate something else, and Gavin became the chief regulator of banks in the state of Idaho. Well that is pretty much all there is to the story, except I have decided that it would be helpful to people who graduate from law school and don't want to be bothered with going into court to explain exactly how Gavin regulates banks, in case they decide that that is what they would rather do than go into court. Gavin drops by my house every so often, and besides that, I have known him from the time that he was knee high to a grasshopper (of course, he was never really knee high to a grasshopper, that is just another one of those sophisticated figures of speech that I have picked up over the years). At any rate, although, I will admit that I have never actually gone with him to regulate a bank, I can tell you with a great deal of confidence exactly how he does it.

To understand his methods, you have to realize that Gavin has always been the athletic one in our family. He was on the baseball team in high school and played tennis and golf and was very good at all of them and then some. But lately he has concentrated on golf. The trouble with golf is that if you don't keep at it constantly, you quickly lose the knack. Your drives don't drive, your puts putter--that sort of thing, so in order to keep up with his golf, he has to combine it with his work. What he does is he goes into a bank that he is going to regulate and he goes up to the nearest counter and he says, "Take me to your leader!" He learned this line from reading and watching science fiction stories but, after all, he does have to say something and be pretty impressive about it, so that's as good as anything. Well, usually the clerk, who has also read some science fiction, is not much impressed by this, and demands, "And just who might you be?" Well, then Gavin gives it to them with both barrels (this is another sophisticated figure of speech) and says, "I'm the head regulator of banks for the state of Idaho." Well, the clerk at that point is naturally sorry that he was so arrogant and all and immediately takes Gavin to his boss.

All the while this interchange has been taking place, Gavin is very carefully looking around. He notices if all the papers on the desk are neatly stacked in orderly piles or if they have been sloppily layed down in a helter-skelter fashion. When he meets the bank manager, he looks him over to see if he is wearing a well pressed suit with a well-tied tie--or, if the bank manager is a woman, he checks to see if she is wearing whatever women are supposed to wear instead of a tie--Gavin having learned exactly what that is during his four years at law school. Well, if everything looks ship-shape (of course, the bank really bears no resemblance whatever to a ship, but I needn't tell you what that expression is), i. e., the papers are all stacked straight, and the tie is well-tied, Gavin congratulates the banker on having passed his audit (this is the expression bank regulaters use because it is much shorter than "bank regulation visit"), and he calls up some friends and they go play golf. If, however, things do not look, in a manner of speaking, like the H.M.S. Pinafore, Gavin has to take action.

What he does is invite the bank manager and a few of the assistant managers to go golfing with him, at their expense, of course, greens fees having gotten so out of hand lately. Gavin is a good golfer and so he doesn't liek to take unfair advantage of these people by scaring them with banker talk right off, so he talks about the weather, and the scenery and that sort of thing to put them at ease. Then about the 8th or 9th hole, he says in a very casual sort of way, "Now about the bank, if someone comes in and gives you $500 to deposit, do you write that down in a book somewhere, so you will remember it?" If the man says, "Yes, we know all about keeping books and we always write it down." Then Gavin is mightily relieved, but he doesn't stop there. "Well what if someone comes and borrows $500, do you write that down in a book too?" Well, if the bank man responds with, "Oh you bet, we write that down as well." Then Gavin is even more mightily relieved. Of course, if they respond with something like, "Oh we don't bother with books. We only hire people with very good memories." Then Gavin is very, very concerned, realizing that staightening this whole thing is going to cut seriously into his golf time.

But, unlike most bank regulators, when Gavin finds out that the bank people know all about books, he doesn't let it go at that, he persists, which explains why he became the head regulator so quick. "Supposing that someone borrows some money and they don't make a payment, what do you do?" he asks looking at the bank manager very narrowly (of course, I just threw that in, I have no idea what it means to look at a person "very narrowly", but they do it in the detective stories I read all the time). "I write that in the book too." The bank manager, hopefully, responds. But Gavin relentlessly persists, "And just how do you write it in the books?" If the bank manager says, "I write it in red ink." Then Gavin breathes a sigh of relief and goes back to talking about the weather, knowing that the people's money is in good hands at a bank where everyone knows about books and red ink. Of course, when he gets back he takes a look at the books, to see if they really are using red ink.

Now, of course, I realize, as I am sure everyone else does, that things have changed in the banking world, with the coming into use of computers, so I am describing what Gavin did earlier in his career. Now he has to ask about computers. And this, of course, has created a thorny problem. The problem is, of course, that it is not possible to have two keyboards, one with black letters and one with red letters, so somehow, the bank people have had to come up with ingenious ways to replace the use of red ink. This is known as the Red Ink Problem. My brother has had to golf on golf courses all over the country to see how people in various parts of the country have been able to deal with this problem. Lately he has been elected as president of the National Bank Regulators society, so he has had to golf on golf courses all over the country explaining to people in various parts of the country how people in other parts of the country handle the Red Ink Problem. Actually, I think it is a good thing that we have come up with computers, because if we had not, and what I read in the newspapers is true, if we had not come up with computers, we would be suffering from a frightful shortage of red ink.

At any rate, this whole article was a digression from Dad's law career, but I thought it would be helpful to people to know how going to church with Tom Boyle, even if it didn't help Dad's career all that much, it was at least helpful to my brother's. Hopefully soon, I will get to talking about Jayson Holladay, whose career, while terribly hopeful for Dad, wasn't particularly helpful either, as we will see.

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