You Just May Be Eligible For Membership In The CULT

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Because you can never have too many, I am hereby announcing the formation of a new credit union trade and professional association: Credit Union Long-Timers, to be better known by its acronym-and if you're qualified for membership then you know there must be an acronym-CULT.

This is a group that, pardon me for saying it, has been a long time in coming. If you've always wanted to be in a CULT, but were put off by the unfashionable orange robes or those rather inconvenient mass suicides, then this is the group for you.

But let me caution you right now-membership isn't as easy as rolling some coins or telling the board chairman's wife that that's the best darned mysteriously-flavored cake you've ever had. That's right, this CULT has a field of membership. In fact, if you've never heard the phrase "field of membership overlap," then stop reading now. If you're still reading, you're not home-free just yet; you've still got to meet the stringent membership requirements always apparent in any halfway respectable CULT.

Consider some of these criteria: You're eligible for CULT:

* If you recall when Washington-based NCUA was actually in Washington.

* If you remember telling a prospective borrower you'd have an answer on their loan in a week or two, and they said, "Don't rush."

* If you know that Herb Wegner wasn't always an award. Bonus points and possibly a seat on the executive committee if you recall his airplane.

* If you know that DE doesn't stand for Delaware.

* If you've heard the phrase "plain vanilla" outside an ice cream shop.

* If you ever heard a conversation along the lines of "CUNA's getting into card services, and it looks like a no-lose situation!"

* If you were ever in a meeting that involved getting over the "33% ATM wall."

* If you can hear "AT&T Family" and not think "calling plan."

* If you recall when the only "grassroots" discussion you had at your credit union was with the lawn care guy.

* If you remember when, if someone was talking about the PAC, then they had to be from Green Bay.

Naturally, as true CULT members, we shall view all noncredit unionists as "outsiders." Indeed, we'll even sneer at those relatively new to the "movement" who repeatedly make rookie mistakes by saying "industry." When we talk of philosophy, should an "outsider" make reference to Aristotle or Kant, we shall snicker at them and roll our eyes. And not behind their backs, either, but right in front of them. That's because we'll bask in the knowledge that we are in the CULT, and true CULTists know there's no reason to ever change as things will always remain the same.

Still unsure whether you might be eligible to join? Here are some other samples from the membership test, which is not available online and does require a #2 pencil:

* Do you know where the other Magic Kingdom is (hint, it's not Anaheim or Orlando)?

* Was there ever a time when you thought cross sales were for people who worked in the church gift shop?

* Do you recall when savings and loans just accepted savings and made loans, and later when they looked unstoppable?

* Can you use fizz-lick in a sentence?

* Do you remember when an indirect loan was a member talking to a non-member, who later came in and signed up?

* Do you remember when the board wouldn't even hear of hiring a banker? And convert to a bank!! Puh-leeze. Why, proponents would be beaten with a copy of the Cooperative Principles and then hung from the statue of Ed Filene.

Speaking of Ed, remember when Filene meant it was time to re-shirt, not research, when underserved was a fault in tennis, when the number 28.8 and the word "blazing" were used in the same sentence, when culture was for yogurt?

As for the management of CULT, dig out that leisure suit or pair of hot pants, because we're dusting off the CUNA Pre-Renaissance governance model. (Helpful, free hint to rookie outsiders: that's Renaissance the committee, not Renaissance the time period). Thanks to some obscure bylaws, I intend to be chairman, while the board executive committee will emerge from a smoke-filled room at which the word "democracy" will be heard as often as the phrase, "Gosh, I miss Norm D'Amours."

As for the CULT board's make-up, we're going Old School, baby, with a bunch of older, white guys. Wait a minute, that's New School, too. Either way, you can count on board interlocks.

And to answer your biggest question, yes, of course there will be a buffet. Lots of 'em. But only in between the golf tournaments. Look for details in our typewritten newsletter. And if you have to ask why we have a newsletter, you're not in the CULT.

Frank J. Diekmann is Editor of The Credit Union Journal. He can be reached at that newfangled fdiekmann cujournal.com.

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