Mark Washburn

Roll out the welcome wagon for Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo poobahs are here today to meet the gang at Wachovia. We need to make a good impression. A really good impression.

They're all from San Francisco, which is one fancy town. All they know about us is what they saw on the “Andy Griffith Show.” They're expecting Floyd and Barney. We need to charm them.

First off, under no circumstances, are they to drive themselves around. We do not need them motoring out of the airport seeing welcome signs in 13 languages, but nothing pointing the way uptown. By the time they find their way back from Rock Hill, they'll be convinced we're drooling imbeciles.

Here are key talking points in chatting up a Wells Fargon.

We are just thrilled, thrilled beyond words, that you've come to gobble up our bank rather than those buck-a-share jackals from Citibank.

We have an experienced, gung-ho, business-bright work force (do not add the phrase “at your disposal”).

We work cheap.

We need to get them shed of the notion that things move slowly in the South. When taking them to headquarters, try to work in how the top of the building is not shaped like a jukebox. It's a wagon wheel. We put it up Monday to make you-all feel at home. (We don't need to get into what Monday of what year.)

Another thing: the Gold Rush always comes up with West Coast folks. If you must mention that we had the original Gold Rush here, leave out the part about how Conrad Reed thought he'd just found a shiny rock and his family used it as a doorstop for years.

We don't want them chortling on the plane home about how ours was more of a Gold Mosey. Assuming they can find the airport, that is – there's no sign on I-77 pointing the way. They are not to drive themselves around. This is vital.

If they start gabbing about fine wines from their Napa Valley, do not try to top them by mentioning Cheerwine. Just don't. Instead, say something like, “It's so beautiful out there, it doesn't surprise me the cost of living is stratospheric. We work cheap.”

San Francisco is home to some of the fastest-growing medical research firms. If they get on that, do not reach for the newspaper and show them that cancer guy who eats plankton. Instead, steer the conversation toward our ability to absorb growth in available office space uptown. Which is dirt cheap.

When they get talking Asian cuisine, do not mention the new grab-and-gobble egg roll at Circle K. And they don't want to know how much your kids like Rice-A-Roni.

We don't know their views on NASCAR, so play it safe. If the topic comes up, don't leap right in and opine that “Kasey woulda won if the giswhomper wheel wasn't rubbing the semi-dwistledorf and he skipped two tires in the last pit.”

Just tell them it's a wonderfully economical spectator sport, which is why we embrace it so.

Because we work cheap.