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A Friend in Need

Posted 11/27/2002

The Nose thought it was receiving an overdue birthday card when we opened up the hand-addressed envelope that arrived in our mailbox a couple weeks ago. The card was pretty enough--a tasteful if uninspired watercolor of foamy river rapids. But we nearly fell over when we read the message inside: "I don't know about you, but I find that life often takes sudden turns--many times without warning." So far so good. But when we read further, we realized that the card was not a bon mot from a friend. Turns out it was a hand-signed note to prod us to pay our admittedly late credit card bill: "Please know that at Discover Card, we understand life's unexpected detours and are dedicated to serving you in any way we can," the message continued. "Give us a call so we can work through this together." Thanks to Hallmark's Business Expressions greeting card line, deadbeats now get an arm around the shoulder instead of an ax over the head. But the company's attempt to play good cop by milking our consciences strikes us as absurd. Credit card companies are not our friends--we know that the business relationship is just an arrangement of convenience. They loan us some cash, we pay them back. And to "thank" them, we give them a little extra for the trouble. At least, that's how it's supposed to work.

After we enjoyed a good laugh, we threw the card on top of the stack of aforementioned birthday cards we've been meaning to respond to as well.

Now those official-looking letters from collection agencies--the ones with stern language like "you leave us no choice," signed by someone who's not pretending to be our buddy--those get our attention. Usually.

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