So we're unanimous on the merger with Chase Manhattan? Excellent. I think we all agree that this merger will benefit both companies tremendously. Nelson, get started on the paperwork for that immediately. I want it on my desk by Friday.

Now, on to the next order of business: Our continuing discussion on whether to pre-approve Douglas C. Schwoegler of Arden, CA, for a Visa Gold card.

I took Mr. Schwoegler's file to the beach house this weekend and read it over a few more times. To be honest, I'm still up in the air on this whole thing. I think we all remember Andrea's presentation last month detailing the ways in which Mr. Schwoegler fits the profile of an individual we'd pre-approve for a Gold Card: long-term employment as distribution manager of a reputable restaurant-supply firm, a homeowner with an affordable mortgage, a good record of paying off debts in a timely manner, a stable and loving relationship with his wife Janet and two children. But as persuasive and thorough as your presentation was, Andrea, I still have my doubts.

I realize that when Douglas Schwoegler first became a Visa customer, our goal was to advance him to Visa Platinum status by 2010. So, if we want to stay on pace with our original timetable, we should approve the Visa Gold. But if we ultimately emerge from these meetings with the consensus opinion that he is not yet ready for the responsibility that comes with that kind of credit limit, we should be willing to rework our long-term goals and push them back a few years. Agreed? Good.

That said, whenever I look at his file, I think, "Yes, he's a shoo-in for the Visa Classic Card, but Visa Gold?" I just don't know. Who else has thoughts on this matter?

That's an interesting point, Roger. But I think you might be confusing him with Douglas P. Schwoegler of Arcata, CA. We'll be discussing him next Thursday. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe the man we're talking about today ever filed for bankruptcy. Don't worry about it. Perfectly understandable mistake.

Now, I agree that the Douglas Schwoegler issue has taken up a lot of the board's time. We've been debating pre-approving him for Visa Gold status for three straight meetings now. But it's vital that we get this right. Every time I open up his file, I get a new angle on just who Douglas Schwoegler is. We can't just rubber-stamp him through in the interest of expediting matters. I'm sure you all remember when we gave a premature "yes" to Lynette A. Demuth. Or how about the Theodore R. Figgis debacle? I think we can all agree we don't want to go down that road again.

Fine. Let's go over some of the objections raised in past meetings. Jim was concerned about some late notices on Schwoegler's credit report. However, as we later discovered, those indiscretions occurred during his college years. Can't really fault a man for a few missed deadlines when he's busy with schoolwork. And those bills never went past 30 days late or went to collections, so the point is moot.

Bob also made a good point in the last meeting. He mentioned that, given Schwoegler's history of low spending during the winter months, his needs may not actually be best served with all the privileges and services that come with a high-end Gold Card. I think that's valid and definitely something to consider.

But here's what I've been wrestling with for the last few days: Whenever we pre-approve borderline customers for a Visa Gold, something happens to them. They either feel obligated to spend more, or they get careless because of the increased credit line. Either way, they quickly find themselves in over their heads. Is there any indication that Douglas Schwoegler will treat this card responsibly? Anderson, you've been in charge of his day-to-day file and know his character best. What do you think?

Really? Twice? I didn't know that about him. Food for thought, indeed.

Well, I didn't feel this way before walking into this meeting, but after hearing all of your various arguments and points of view, I'm willing to gamble that Mr. Schwoegler is Gold Card material. I still think we should monitor his progress closely. If anyone sees a big-screen TV or 49ers season tickets on his monthly report, I want it faxed to me immediately. But I finally feel comfortable moving forward with this pre-approval.

Somehow, I have a feeling Mr. Schwoegler is going to rise to the occasion quite nicely. Quite nicely, indeed.