Hubs and I are not dedicated credit card users.
Oh, we HAVE credit cards; don’t get me wrong. You never know when you’ll be walking through a store and have a pair of flashy sunglasses with an even flashier price tag sing its siren song to you, and, for times like that, we rely on our trusty friends, Discover, Visa and Master Card. For the most part, though, Hubs and I practice what is commonly known as “responsible spending.”
I know. It’s no fun. Responsible? Yes. Fun? Not so much.
But, lands sakes! You should see the credit scores! They shine with a brilliant radiance.
(Clearly, Hubs and I try not to use the credit cards at Starbucks. If we did, I assume we’d fall into financial ruin. We’d be destitute. I’d be pushing a shopping cart around town, collecting tin cans to recycle.)
My friend, Cody, and I spent the morning shopping for Christmas gifts today, because, contrary to what the boy says, Christmas is quickly approaching.
For the record, the boy bemoaned the fact tonight that Christmas! Is! Taking! Entirely! Too! Long! To! Arrive! He announced, with nine-year-old sadness, that December is the very slowest month in the calendar year. He thinks that the ancients, who devised our calendar, added a couple of extra weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. His mama believes that the ancients yanked a couple of weeks OUT of December.
Clearly, the stress is settling in. I haven’t finished my shopping. I haven’t finished my annual Christmas letter. I haven’t started baking.
I don’t bake.
Yeah! Something to scratch OFF the list!
Yes, Cody and I spent the entire morning shopping, spending our hard-earned American dollars to help stimulate the economy, which is the least I can do in tough times like this. After debating the merits of This Barbie vs. That Barbie, and finally selecting The Other Barbie (and probably not for the boy’s gift, because he has a tendency to FEAR the Barbies), we ventured up to the check-out line, where my cart full of materialistic goodies was scanned and totaled. I swiped the Discover Card, which pretty much had a balance of ZERO DOLLARS.
My cashier replied, in a flat voice, which indicates that she deals with this situation on a daily basis, “Your credit card has been denied. Would you like to try another one?”
What?! No, I would not like to try another card! This one has no money on it, and it’s good.
I swiped it again. My cashier looked at me with no sympathy whatsoever and stated, “It’s been denied. Again.”
There were eight people behind me in line.
They were all looking at me. I could read their expressions, which all said, without words, “If you have no money, don’t be buying Barbies.”
I smiled sweetly at the cashier and said, “Do you know what my credit report is? It’s good. It’s real good. Of course, it’s four points LOWER than Hubs’ credit report, because I write the checks to pay Hubs’ bills, and how on earth he achieved four points more than I did still baffles me, and he continues to rub it into my face every day, because he knows he’s skated through on a freebie there. He KNOWS who balances the checkbook and pays the bills every month. And even though I’m four points below Hubs, I’m still at the top of the credit score ball game, and I’m telling you that this credit card has a zero balance, and will you just scan it on your side of the cash register? Please?”
Only, I might not have actually said all of that out loud. But I did ask the cashier to scan it herself. That much I’m sure of.
She rolled her eyes at me, ran the card through herself, and smiled.
“It has been denied. For a third time.” I think that she actually took a great amount of pleasure in saying those words to me.
Tears welled up in my eyes, with the sheer embarrassment, as the eight individuals behind me continued to stare and sigh, and think to themselves, “I wish this woman with the Barbies would just admit that she’s broke and get out of the line.”
With the blood pounding in my head and my cheeks on fire, I put away my Discover card, pulled out my Visa, and ran it through the scanning device.
If at first you fail, try the Visa.
I left the shopping center with my head hung low and screeching to Cody, “Why? What is wrong with my card??!!”
I came home, and there, on my computer, was an email from Discover, which read, “This is not a bill notice. This is an advisory stating that your credit card has been flagged for fraudulent activity. Please call our offices immediately. Your card may be stolen.”
I called Discover.
I talked to a nice gentleman who said, “Did you try to make a purchase today?”
“Yes. Yes, I did. And Discover card left me standing alone at the cash register, so I’d really just like to break up with Discover now. I’m dating Visa instead, because Visa was there for me.”
The gentleman replied, “I’m sorry about that, ma’am, but this credit card sees so little activity, that a red flag popped up when you tried to make a purchase on it. Our computers flagged it as possibly stolen.”
He went on to verify this and that and the other with me, and he finally said, “Your Discover card is good to go now, ma’am.”
I said, “Good. Because I’m going to use it to pay for the therapy for the emotional trauma that your credit agency just put me through. I’ll be making an appointment with a counselor to talk myself through this humiliation. And I just want you to know that Visa is my new best friend.”
Only I didn’t really say all that, because my mom taught me to use my manners, which I do…most of the time.
Even though December is barely moving for the boy, it’s howling right along for me, bringing stress at all angles.
Welcome to adulthood, when December sometimes ceases to be as fun as you remember.