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Side Effects™, Epilogue: 41 Hours

Side Effects Epilogue

During a break in one of the interviews for Side Effects™, I overheard an exchange between two people on set whom I’ll refer to as Adam and Mark because of the sensitive nature of their conversation.

Adam told Mark in no uncertain terms that this project was a waste of time because all corporations, even credit unions, were the same: only in it for the money, unmoved by the human suffering all around them.

According to Adam, the stories of Side Effects, poignant and emotional as they may be, will make no difference in how we see and serve cancer patients and their families.

Was Adam right? In the months after his prediction, I didn’t know.

I’m embarrassed to admit that. I’ve served this industry for nearly half my life, publicly proclaimed our goodness far and wide. Harboring private doubts felt disloyal.

But the stress of COVID, the grind of quarantine, the grief over social and economic injustice, and the painful unpredictability of my wife’s post-cancer treatment life exacted a heavy emotional toll on me, driving Adam’s skepticism further into my heart than I expected.

That’s why the original version of this Epilogue focused only on Mark and Adam’s interaction, with you left to answer Adam’s assertions on your own.

All that changed in the span of 41 hours.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

5:37 pm EST

After viewing a preview copy of Elizabeth’s film, Idaho Central Credit Union CEO, Kent Oram, emailed this to Gigi Hyland, executive director of the National Credit Union Foundation:

I’m proud of Tommy {Butler, ICCU’s Director of Member Assistance} and his team and know their hearts are in the right place.

We have, for a decade, emphasized a different kind of attention to collecting debts. We emphasize our hearts. We still have to collect debts, though, to be true to the entire membership. That’s the delicate balance. And it is where Tommy and his team shine.

They will take this story, internalize it, and I doubt another circumstance like Elizabeth’s will occur.

So, thank you for helping us see some clear way to improve ourselves.

Kent’s message is a reminder of the harmony that credit union professionals must sustain between mission, margin, and membership. Finding the equilibrium is difficult. Easy solutions are few and far between.

But not, as I would soon learn, on that particular day.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

11:45 pm EST

I’m checking Facebook before going to bed. The first post I see is from Elizabeth’s father Virgil:

As you all know my daughter Elizabeth is suffering from Stage 4 cancer and received some good news today.

The bank that she uses called her and told her that they were paying off her car and credit card. What a relief.

There are still some generous companies out there that really care.

This news surprises me, thrills me…but it’s the next line that undoes me:

By the way, the bank is the Idaho Central Credit Union.

My tears of joy don’t stop for a very long time.


Friday, April 9, 2021

10:36 am EST

Mark sends me a message:

I thought you should know that you not only got the approval of Adam but of friends of his that watched {the film} too.

Given how openly dismissive Adam was about Side Effects as a whole, this is praise of the highest order. I type that back to Mark, who responds:

I thought you might like that. And believe me, his friend that said it is just as critical as Adam is.

Hope, and more hope.

Our best work awaits.

Let’s begin.

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