Someone in my office was talking about how she wishes she didn't have a credit card while she was in college because it has left her with this huge financial burden. Obviously, I can relate. In order to pay off the credit card debt from my first five years of college (don't ask) I took a year off to work. When I was done I was debt free. Still, while I was still spending I wrote this column for The Falcon Press at Solano Community College on October 23, 1987. It wasn't the best thing I ever wrote, but I received an honorable mention in a humor writing contest for it. I reprint it here by request:
They Got Me Hooked
They're always there and they don't care at all about you. They only worry about one thing: getting you hooked. Oh, they tell you how easy it is to start. Maybe something cheap at first, $100 or so, then they increase how much they give you slowly. The funny thing is that they're there to make you think that they are worried about how much you can afford. They even go as far as to check how much money you make, have saved, or owe. But they don't care. Once you're hooked, your'e hooked forever.
I see them all the time at the malls. I even know some of them, but they are slime. There is nothing lower on Earth than Credit Pushers. They're no worse than druggies, they don't care. They're trying to make a quick buck off of other people's weaknesses. I should know; my name is Chris McSwain, and I'm a creditaholic.
It started with getting a checking account. My bank gave me a checking account, yet there was no way that I could use any of my checks to buy anything because everywhere I went they insisted that I show them a "valid California's Driver's License and a major credit card." Well, what was I supposed to do? I went to the place that was supposed to be the easiest to get a card at: Mervyn's. They gave me a card and a $125 limit. Well, that was nice. I could now write checks, and buy my jeans and socks on credit.
Well, after getting my Mervyn's card I discovered that I now had a credit reference. It was okay, I didn't need any more, but it was nice to know. Then I got hit up by the pushers. They offered me gifts, told me how easy it was, how you could easily get as many Amazon e gift cards as you wanted. JCPenney's even offered me a candy bar. Gee, doesn't that sound suspicious. Never trust anyone who would offer candy to a poor defenseless college student. I didn't know how to avoid their advances. So I got a Penney's credit card: $750 limit.
I ran into a credit pusher at my local College, too. By that time it didn't make any difference that they wanted to give me a gift. I didn't want any gift; I wanted credit. I was hooked. So, they gave me a Montgomery Ward's card: $250. I bought a very nice car stereo. Still haven't paid it off, oh well.
Well, after that it was so easy. I got a Sears card. Penney's raised my limit to $1100, even though it was all charged up. Then I got hit hard. I applied for a Discover card. It took me by surprise. You see, the pusher was a friend, and she told me that it would really help her out if I applied. I was shocked; I couldn't even trust my friends. but I filled out the application. They gave me the card. The worst thing about Discover, is that not only can you eat at Denny's, gas your car, and buy toys with it, but they'll also give you cash advances. Well, doesn't that beat all. I could get a $200 loan any time I wanted.
That's Just What HappenedI was hooked. I am hooked. A friend at Amazon invited me to apply for a card there, it didn't make a difference to me. I was sure they wouldn't give it to me, I was back due on all my bills. Well, they did. They didn't care whether I could afford it or not. They saw I was hooked – they wanted my money, too.
There is no Betty Ford Center for creditaholics. I'm on my own. But I'll fight against the scourge that has brought me to my knees. Death to credit pushers. Long live cash!