Growing up as a teenage in the fifties I was crazy about watching the popular western television show “Tales of Fargo” with Dale Robertson as the detective agent who played the starring role of Jim Hardie.
I always wanted to be like Jim Hardie because of his last name was pronounced like my first name but spelled differently. He was fast on the draw, always got the bandit and talked about the fairness and justice of Wells Fargo to its customers and the community at-large.
When I went to New York in 1960, I got a chance to use his name when my cousin Zelda and I were walking on East 102nd street and were confronted by four or five teenagers wearing leather jackets and wanting to know who we were.
I guess they lived in the neighborhood, but I was not going to engage them in a conversation since I had heard about how things were in the city when it came to gangs. So, without thinking I looked the one who asked the question straight in the eyes and said firmly, I’m Jim Hardie. I turned, and Zelda and I quickly went into the apartment without running.
After we were inside, our cousin told us the teenagers were part on the neighborhood bad boys. We spent the night there and in the morning these same teenaged boys were asking about me, so I went out to meet with them. We became friends because of the way I had responded without fear. Thanks, Jim Hardie.
This story came to me as I have watched my bank, Wells Fargo, go through one of the worst scandals in banking history. I had even considered moving my accounts to another bank, but I did not because of my physical disability and the great personal relationship with my branch staff.
Now I see they’ve recognized how they used to be a trusted institution, how they have lost the trust of some customers, and how the community at-large was writing them off. It will take some time before that trust will be fully restored and I would recommend they show some of those old western movies of “Tales of Wells Fargo” to every member of their Board of Directors, their CEO, managers and employees in the company as part of their new employee orientation program.
It will also take good out-reach efforts into all communities for Wells Fargo to demonstrate its commitment to fairness and justice to its customers and the community at-large as depicted in those old television shows.