JOE WEBB AND CO. – THE WRITTEN WORLD

LESSON #12: CREDIT CARDS

Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on September 17, 2008

LESSON #12: CREDIT CARDS

unexplainable_picture          Some things in life just cannot be explained.  Like Stonehenge.  Or the Jonas Brothers.  Or this picture.  The more I look at it, the weirder it gets.  The UPS truck?  The sewing machine?  How do they fit together?  I have no idea.  Yet as baffling as I find these three enigmas, they are still more explainable than what I take to be the craziest swindle of the last twenty years: the great collegiate credit card explosion.

          Here’s how it works: at various campus locales on random Fridays in November (when student checking accounts are running low) and at various Spring Break locations in the first three weeks of March (when student judgment is running low), a wily trickster somehow convinces thousands of unsuspecting college students to sign up for a First State Bank of Wichita Collegiate Credit Card.  To entice participation in his swindle, this charlatan offers easy access to 500 magic dollars and a crappy white t-shirt with a hideous logo.  In exchange, he extracts a usurious 29.99% interest rate, 30 dollars in annual fees, and 50 points from his victim’s credit score.

          Now, let’s take a look at the long-term implications of these transactions.  Meet Rick, a typical undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.  Rick’s a normal guy – he drives a Teal 1980s Cavalier, enjoys Creed (but feels Scott Stapp’s solo career was hampered by rock journalism’s jealousy), and likes to spin Marky Mark records on the weekend as an amateur DJ (see the comments section of Lesson #10).  Like I said – just a normal guy on the fast track to a solid career selling crop-insurance for Country Companies.  But Rick, upon reaching adulthood, is about to find out that some of the choices he made regarding easy credit in his time at UWO carry with them long term implications.  You see, by the time Rick’s college experience ends, he will have fallen victim to the great credit card scam five times.  And while he enjoyed his fair share of Milwaukee’s Best with that money (and put an awesome system in the trunk of his Cavalier), Rick’s going to graduate from college with five crappy t-shirts that he’ll only wear to mow the lawn, and having paid 7700 dollars in finance charges while making the minimum payment each month with his earnings from his job at Blockbuster.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is not smart – but it’s also not the worst of it.  With his five open, but maxed-out lines of credit, Rick will find himself unable to trade in his Cavalier for a new Mustang – because, with a credit score of 379, his monthly car payment would be $942.11.

          So, the moral of the story is…don’t let this happen to you.  Look, it’s not a completely horrible idea for you to have a credit card in case of emergencies, but you should acquire this card by going to a real bank (like Chase or Bank of America) and having your parents co-sign the agreement.  That way, you should be able to slowly build your credit history at a reasonable rate (somewhere in the neighborhood of 14.99% is reasonable for a first card) as you work your way through college and into adulthood.  Whatever you do, don’t sign up for one of those shitty cards where all you are getting is a horrible t-shirt (or some other equally useless trinket) and a future credit score nightmare.  Would you even buy that thing if you were sober?  I know where most of you shop for t-shirts, and trust me, the Wichita trickster isn’t giving out clothing from the Salvation Army, threadless.com, Urban Outfitters, or American Apparel.  That sucker is from a Malaysian knock-off of Fruit of the Loom.  You still want it?  Then sign up for the card using a fake name and a fake social security number – that was one of the best pieces of advice I got on my first Spring Break to South Padre Island ten years ago.  Because of that little tidbit of wisdom, Dr. Wizard’s credit history is clean – and “Stuart Conrad’s” is FUBAR.

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4 Responses

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  1. Ghost Dog said, on September 17, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Is Rick’s Cavalier mating?

  2. drwizard said, on September 17, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Oh yeah – I almost forgot. No, you do not want 10% off of your GAP purchase today. Store credit cards – also stupider than the Pet Rock.

  3. MS said, on September 17, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Some sort of digital-age witchcraft – or perhaps more appropriately, wizardry – is responsible for this obviously doctored photo. Though, despite the claim to doctoring, I still can’t explain which facet of this knock-off motivational poster was superimposed into an equally disturbing and strangely unexplainable situation: The UPS truck using someone’s front lawn as a runaway truck ramp, or the social misfit showing up to prom carrying a sewing machine and wearing a “I’m going to molest your daughter” grin if I ever saw one (where is this guys mustache?).

    The Unexplainable Explained: Johnny Prom Date signed up for a credit card from First State Bank of Wichita Collegiate, busted his credit score, and had to raid his mom’s linen closet for a corsage substitute…sewing machine, score! Becky Home-ecky will love it…band kids are so weird. Now for the UPS Truck. The driver, noticing a striking resemblance to the Free Credit Report dot com guy who sings silly, yet surprisingly catchy jingles, simultaneously noticed the sewing machine – molester grin combo and either decided to attempt vehicular homicide, or got stuck in the tractor beam of awesome bizarreness, and still can’t look away.

  4. Frank said, on September 17, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    MS: Quoting James Carville in his surprise walk-on role as himself in the 2003 comedic blockbuster, Old School, “…We…(stumbles) have no response. That was perfect…”


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