Cooking is not in Cherry Godoy's job description. But the NationsBank Corp. loan officer decided to take matters into her own hands when the athletes representing the Philippines complained to her about their hamburger and hot dog diet in the Olympic Village.
Ms. Godoy, a native Filipino, cooked up dishes at home with help from her daughter Kathy and carried them into the Olympic Village, where she has been reassigned to NationsBank's special branch for the last few weeks. She said the 30 athletes, coaches, and trainers in the Filipino contingent appreciate such reminders of home as pansip (rice noodles and vegetables), adobo (marinated chicken, beef, or pork), and ube (candied- yam-like dessert).
"I wanted to show my support for them, as a Filipino," said the 35-year- old Ms. Godoy, who immigrated to the United States in 1980. "I know they haven't won any medals yet, but I like to show the hospitality here in the South."
Ms. Godoy's example of service may deserve a gold medal all its own. But it underlines the fact that all the banks in Atlanta - and particularly NationsBank, an official sponsor - have made extraordinary efforts to provide banking services during the Summer Games, which conclude on Sunday.
NationsBank, which paid $40 million for its sponsorship rights, has established three special branches within Olympic venues and a fourth in the Olympic Village. The Charlotte, N.C.-based megabank also provides an expanded menu of services in its downtown branches, particularly for foreign exchange and wire transfers.
NationsBank has stocked three of its downtown branches with 30 of the most widely used currencies. The branches can access the more obscure ones, like the Colombian peso or the Bahamian dollar, within a day or two. Bank employees say the demand for currency exchange was particularly high during the first weekend of the Games, which attracted athletes and officials from 197 countries.
"I've never seen so much currency exchange in my life," said John T. Stembridge, who is managing the Olympic Village branch but normally runs the Peachtree Center office, one of the three currency centers.
Last Wednesday afternoon, a lighted board in the Peachtree Center lobby flashed daily rates for the Canadian dollar, French franc, German mark, and British pound as customers watched a NBC's Olympics coverage on a nearby television set.
Mr. Stembridge, tall and trim as any athlete, is a very busy man these days. During the period of the games, he has been reassigned to the Olympic Village branch, leaving Peachtree Center in the hands of Drew Hayes, who normally manages a branch on Fulton Industrial Boulevard, on Atlanta's western perimeter.
Like most NationsBank employees in Atlanta, Mr. Stembridge wears khaki shorts, running shoes, and a red, white, and blue polo shirt to blend in with the Olympic crowds. He doesn't mind the informality; in fact, he's having the time of his life. So far during his tour of duty at the Olympic Village, he has seen numerous celebrities up close, including President Clinton, former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, and Mary Lou Retton, the star gymnast of the 1984 Olympics.
Mr. Hayes chimed in that he sees a lot of Olympic bigwigs in the Peachtree Center office. The International Olympic Committee, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and more than 75 national teams, including Germany and Russia, have established accounts with NationsBank.
Even more exciting for Mr. Hayes was a branch appearance by NationsBank Chairman Hugh McColl Jr. during one of his roving tours of the Olympic area. "I never thought that I'd ever see him in person - at least in my office," said an enthusiastic Mr. Hayes.
Last week's pipe-bomb explosion at Centennial Olympic Park, which killed one and wounded scores of others, did not have any appreciable effect on NationsBank's operations, Mr. Hayes said, adding that traffic in his branch over the weekend was actually higher than the previous weekend.
Behind the scenes, the Olympic Games required years of preparation by NationsBank. Fearful of massive traffic congestion on Atlanta streets - something that has yet to materialize - NationsBank arranged for 375 employees to work at home. There's some talk within the company that if this experiment is successful, the option of telecommuting might be offered to employees throughout NationsBank's nine-state franchise next year.
Other Atlanta banks, although not official sponsors, also took extraordinary measures to get ready for the expected influx of nearly two million visitors.
Wachovia Corp., based in Winston-Salem, N.C., deployed additional couriers and hired helicopters to keep checks moving between its Atlanta operations center, in the northern part of town, and its processing center, to the south, near the airport. In between the two centers lie downtown Atlanta and the Olympic venues.
"We've got to serve our customers and we've got to be serious about it," said Dick Nelson, vice president of operations service at Wachovia. "It's not going to be business as usual, but we want to make it look that way as much as we can."
Wachovia also made its airport processing center available in case the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, located in the heart of downtown, needed an alternate check-processing point.
Expecting a significant increase in the use of ATMs, credit cards, and cash advances, Wachovia made temporary changes to its ATM network. During the games, machines will dispense $10 and $50 bills instead of the usual fives and 20s.
"It's going to help our customers a lot. We certainly don't want to run out of cash," Mr. Wilson said. "You can't buy anything much at the Olympics for $5, anyway. Face it."
Mr. Wilson said Wachovia officials have met routinely with their counterparts at First Union Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. to discuss armored car and ATM servicing, as well as participation in a helicopter network.
Lisa Churchfield, First Union's director of services management in Atlanta, said her company - so far - has experienced fewer problems than expected in getting employees to work. First Union arranged for some employees to work at home and set up eight sites around the perimeter of the city, where others could be provided with phones and personal computers.
"We've had a lot of people just come back to the office, because there hasn't been any real traffic," Ms. Churchfield said. "We're ready if anything changes. But for now, we're just doing our business as usual."
For NationsBank employees, getting back to "business as usual" may be the most difficult aspect of the Olympics. "It's going to be real slow," said Mr. Hayes, thinking about the suburban branch he'll return to in two weeks.
"Half of me says, I can't wait. But I know that when I get back down there, I'll miss some of the theatrics."
Jonathan D. Epstein contributed to this story.