Back in September of 2019, you know, when the world was still (semi-)normal, we started a special group on Facebook called “Citi Reunion”.
Originally began as a USCC-only initiative by Maria Ferreira (former Direct Banker), we opened it up to our Citi friends from across the country…and the response was overwhelming!
And it’s still going strong…and that’s so incredibly heartwarming!
The memories that people post often stir up emotions in me that have been dormant since I left Citi in late ’06…with few exceptions.
We now have over 2,100 members & all it takes is for one of them to post a “Do You Remember When?” thingie…and a flood of responses, filled with warmth, laughter & surprise, comes roaring through!
Awhile back, there was a post regarding the “smell of the cows” (er, cattle) on the ranches surrounding the USCC/U.S. Citibanking Center grounds down here in San Antonio.
Back in the early ’90s, some 40 acres of ranch land off Highway 211, across from the Texas Research Park, on the faaaaaar western part of the city, were “donated” to Citi by the owners of the Briggs Ranch.
I use the word “donated” as I often wondered why a cattle ranch in San Antonio, Texas, where Citi had no banking presence, would simply give a financial services behemoth 40 acres of land.
Could it have been that they wanted to attract us to build there & serve as the impetus for the entire surrounding area to grow & develop?
A wise investment in their own future as they possibly owned a lot more property nearby whose value could skyrocket?
Was it really a true, authentic “donation” or was there any exchange of some kind involved?
For those of you that haven’t visited the site in a while, you would be TOTALLY SHOCKED at all the housing & commercial development up and down Potranco Road.
(That’s the small, 2-lane country road that you would “take forever” into nowhere…until you made a left at the blinking yellow traffic light @ Highway 211!
Today, there’s a Briggs Ranch subdivision of magnificent, high-end homes…a spectacular Briggs Ranch golf course…the Golf Club of Texas…and dozens & dozens of other housing developments, strip malls & big retail stores in & around the USCC.
Over the years, the USCC grew in size from a single building to now three that house employees as well as a 4th building, the child daycare center.
When employees now go to the far ends of the parking lots, instead of seeing and, yes smelling, the herd of Longhorn cattle, they’re now able to see their neighbors and look in their backyards.
One of the people in the Citi reunion group on Facebook commented about the “smell of the cows”, especially on those hot, humid days when the wind blew exactly the right way.
Or, for that matter, the wrong way, depending on your olfactory preferences!
But that was nothing compared to what I experienced after I left Citi in late ’06 & joined Lehman Brothers in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
Scottsbluff is a small town of less than 15,000 people situated in the southwestern corner of the state. It’s surrounded by absolutely nothing but cornfields, lots of farms, cattle ranches, a few small neighboring towns & the typical stuff you would find in most Nebraska rural areas.
It’s home to a Western Sugar processing plant where tons & tons & of sugar beets are shipped by freight train to be cooked, processed and converted into sugar and syrup.
Lemme tell ya, you haven’t lived until your nose catches hold of the stench of those beets being cooked!
Lord have mercy on us all!
Considering all the cattle, all the feed farms and this incredible putrid odor coming from the processing factory when the wind was, er, strategically aligned, the entire town of Scottsbluff would be completely engulfed with the worst smell imaginable in the history of mankind!
It would permeate absolutely every inch of the town’s existence…no place was safe nor spared.
I remember when I first moved there, I stood at the Hampton Inn & Suites for 2 months until I was able to find suitable housing. Gotta love those relocation packages!
I clearly recall opening my room door early one morning… and almost getting knocked out by the smell in the hallway! It was like Elsie & all her cow friends crapped, like, 2 feet away!
I kept looking down (ya know, for the patties) as I headed into the lobby for an absolutely-scrumptious breakfast feast!
I would often tell my boss, Scott Deatherage, how lucky he was that when I flew up from TX for my initial interview (which kinda turned into a welcoming session), it was a “good day”…no smell whatsoever!
I can honestly say that had it been otherwise, I may not have accepted their offer.
In fact, I WOULDN’t have accepted! After all, how would I have known that it wasn’t a regular occurrence?
But thank God it wasn’t.
There, indeed, were times, however, when it was so bad that when I went to my favorite restaurant, the Emporium…a great place that seemed to have fallen from outer space into this tiny little town…we couldn’t eat outside on the patio, like I would normally do, because of the incredible stench!
I chuckle when people in San Antonio talk about the smell of the cows.
Believe me, it would only have taken one quick trip to Scottsbluff on the “right day” to convince them that what they had down to San Antonio was absolute heaven!
A fragrance commercial, no less!
Yeah, after awhile, one would “get somewhat used” to this nostril-burning terror (I was there for almost 2 years), but you could never ignore it or make believe that it wasn’t that bad. Now, it didn’t happen too frequently (where it got to the point of being unbearable), but there were always a few days most months when you Mea Culpa’d all day long!!!
I’d always feel so sorry for the people as they were truly good, solid citizens…the salt of the Earth.
Of course, I’d remark that one of their ancestors must’ve done something really horrible to have upset The Man upstairs so badly!
And we all know that He doesn’t forget that stuff! Him & that Ms. Karma have some incredible memories.
So, whenever you think you got it really bad, no matter what you’re facing, just keep in mind that there’s always someone, somewhere, who somehow has it even…
As always, thank you so very much for listening!
P.S. To all my beautiful people & friends back in Nebraska, you know just how very much i love you each & every one of you!