This story comes under the heading of “folklore,” a story that rises up out of the people and migrates and mutates. There is a New York version, a Jewish version, an Italian version, a Southern version and a Texas version, where I believe it originated, but that is likely because I am a Texan. It goes like this:
A Texas rancher walks into a bank in New York City and asks for a $5000 loan for the period of a month.
The banker hesitates. He is uncertain about it because he thinks the Texan looks a bit like a redneck, and truth be told, rather poor. So he decides to blow him off quickly. He says, “Do you have any collateral to put up for the loan?”
The rancher replies, “Yep, got that 2015 Ford F-250 sittin’ across the street there. Worth $70,000 all decked out that way.”
The banker rolls his eyes and says, “How much do you owe on that truck?”
The rancher says, “Not a dime. All paid for.”
The banker leans forward and changes his tune. “Well sir, I don’t see why we couldn’t loan you $5000. We could go up to $40,000 if you’d like, over a longer period, of course.”
“Nope,” said the rancher, “$5000 will do. A month is all I need.”
“You mind if I ask why you need the loan?” asked the banker.
The rancher said, “I drove up from my little ranch in Abilene to do some business here and suddenly have an emergency opportunity. A bucket list item, to fly over to España to maybe purchase an Andalusian horse, if I can afford it. Little cash poor just now – need some walkin’ around money.”
The banker says, “Well this will be no problem. We can certainly help you out.”
“Just one thing,” said the rancher. “Can we skip puttin’ a lien on the title? Clearing a New York lien from Texas, I imagine, is like herdin’ cats.”
“I tell you what,” said the banker, “Just leave the truck with us as hard collateral and pick it up when you come back. You’re not going to need it anyway.”
The rancher thought a moment and said, “Well, it’s a bit unusal, but I guess it will be alright.” He slid the keys across the desk to the banker.
In a few minutes, all the formalitites were settled and the banker gave the rancher $5000 in cash and off he went to Spain.
One month later the rancher returned and paid the banker $5000 – plus $28.22 for one month’s interest.
The banker walked the rancher out to the front of the bank. As they waited for the truck to be brought down from the garage. The banker said, “Sir, while you were gone I ran a full credit check on you, just for the hell of it. And turns out you are quite wealthy. You have a 1200 acre ranch, 500 head of cattle, and oil and gas interests; you didn’t really need this loan did you?”
Rancher said, “No sir, I didn’t, not really.”
Banker said, “Mind if I ask why you got the loan?”
Just at that moment, truck arrived from the bank’s garage. The rancher hopped in and powered the window down. He leaned out toward the banker and said, “Where else was I gonna park a big ol’ F-250 in New York City for a whole month for just $28?”
With that he tipped his hat and said, “Much obliged to you.”
W.F. Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. At Public Radio 88 FM in Harlingen, Texas, he’s the resident expert on Texas literature, Texas legends, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Whataburger (with cheese) and mesquite smoked brisket.