Issue #150 – “Plastic Man” – May 11th, 2009

-A recent article in Time Magazine stated that half of all college students have four or more credit cards.  Four or more?  That’s fucking ridiculous.  I’m twenty-nine and have one credit card.  Why?  Well, I simply did the research and calculated that it would be most beneficial if I accumulated all of my rewards points in one account.  Actually, that’s not true; I just really hate carrying a thick wallet.  OK, that’s not completely true, either.  I also got burned so many times with free t-shirts that were XXXL and promotional towels as thin as paper that I finally stopped accepting all the credit card offers that were foisted my way.  College kids be damned, I’m comfortable with my decision.  Packing a single Amex (alongside a near-useless debit card), I stride confidently cashless through malls and bars.  Call me crazy or, more accurately, call me Plastic Man.

-Whenever I buy something at, say, Banana Republic, and the cashier asks if I’d like to save 10% by applying for a store credit card, I immediately weigh the pros of saving fifteen bucks with the cons of spending three minutes filling out an application.  I usually decline.  I’d be much more inclined to accept, though, if the store offered certain incentives – such as the option to receive said card in the mail already cut into five pieces and shredded, thereby saving me the trouble.

-My buddy has been carrying a balance on his credit card for years.  Every month, he just pays off the interest.  This, of course, is one of the worst financial decisions he could possibly make.  A part of me thinks he knows this and he’s just punishing himself for getting into debt in the first place.  Another part of me wishes he’d just cope by binge drinking like a normal person.

-I’ve only seen an American Express Black Card once.  I was in a bar after a gig in Ann Arbor and the kid who had it was about twenty (most likely it was only one of the four or more cards he carried).  I didn’t say anything, but my internal monologue unfolded as follows: 1) “Wow, Black Cards do exist.”  2) “Why does this fucking kid have a fucking Black Card?”  3) “Wait, he’s using it to buy me drinks.”  4) “The bill is only nine bucks?  He just ruined it.”

-Forgetting your credit card at the bar is one of the great annoyances of twentysomething life.  Returning to retrieve it during the day, only to find out the bar is closed, is bad.  But attempting to go back at night and being barred from entry by a bouncer who doubts your sob story, well that’s just not fair.

-If your web site does not allow Google Toolbar to fill in my credit card details, I will be taking my business elsewhere.  You really expect me to go dig out my wallet, find my card, and manually enter all those digits?  Methinks you’ve overestimated my resolve to complete this purchase.

-When I worked on Wall Street following graduation, I was issued a corporate card.  Sure it was no Black Card, but still heady stuff for a twenty-two-year-old.  That is, until the rules were explained to us.  The investment bank I worked for didn’t actually pay the card balance, we did, then expensed the charges, and after a lengthy and arcane approval process, were eventually reimbursed.  What’s the point of the card then?  No free t-shirt, no towel, not even 10% off khakis.  It merely thickened my wallet needlessly and tempted me to use it to open a tab, neglect closing out, and then have to explain to my superiors why a mean bouncer wouldn’t let me have my corporate card back.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-I’ll admit there are a lot of pretty gourmet applications for the iPhone.  But the most important app still does not exist: the one that turns it into a BlackBerry.

-When a customer service rep tells me I’ll have the option of filling out a survey about our call and requests that I give him all perfect scores, I really respect him for trying to game the system.  I mean, not enough to actually fill out the survey, but I respect him nonetheless.

-I am terrified of winning the World Series and getting stuck at the bottom of the pile on the mound.  How do they breathe?

-Why do the drivers of two-door cars always force the passengers in the back left seat to get out on the right side of the car?  My knees have been pressed against my chin for the past hour, the least you could do is get the fuck up and let me out.

-I hate riding in a car that is only a few months newer than mine, but is next year’s version of the same model and thus has features and doohickeys I could only dream of.  Jealousy comes standard.

-Someone just sent me a recent Facebook photo of one of my frat buddies posing next to the beer pong table in our fraternity house – with his newborn son.  My emotions ran the gamut from proud to nostalgic before settling firmly on depressed.

-Listen, dude, there are only a few legitimate reasons why you should be taking up valuable real estate at the bar when the place is packed: you’re ordering drinks, you’re distributing drinks you just ordered to your friends, or you’re closing out your tab.  However, all of these excuses are considered null and void if you are performing said tasks while wearing a fucking fedora.

-And, finally, another rite of passage from my Wall Street days, besides receiving the useless corporate card, was being reprimanded for sending inappropriate emails.  I used to love when HR would specifically outline which topics were strictly off-limits, namely: intoxication, fornication, masturbation, and defecation.  I even coined these taboos the “Four Sins of Tion” after the common suffix each word contains.  It was a simpler time back then, when my primary concerns were wording my emails to circumvent the company filters and getting away with expensing as much frivolous shit as possible.  A part of me, though, wonders if I’d remained in finance whether I’d have a Black Card of my own by now.  But another part of me realizes that, even if I’d requested perfect marks on all my performance reviews, that’s one survey I was unlikely to ever fare well on.  Fuck me!