Friday, June 14, 2013



   Ever go to WalMart, or Target, or your local grocer, and then you find the cost of the things you bought over a hundred bucks somehow (why has bacon matched the price of gold-per-ounce recently?), then when you swipe your debit card, you get the message "Transaction.. Approved".  It's like hitting the jackpot in many ways for most of us.  Like 105% of America, I too live paycheck to paycheck.  I've heard rumor of someone living in the Samoan Islands that might have not had to do this one month, but most of us are taxed to death and so when a transaction succeeds, it's like winning a "time extension" and makes me want to play the Final Fantasy fanfare and strike an awkwardly Japanese cool-move pose!

James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931) was the original gangster badass, getting a transaction-declined at a restaurant.  His solution is a bit more.. realistic, and makes a run for it.
   There's always that doom that you'll get the dreaded "Transaction Declined" while a huge line of impatient folks are annoyed behind you.  What are you supposed to do?  It's a sweaty time.  Perhaps you have another card to try again, sometimes you do not, and then you can do what I do, which is to run away, arms pinned to my sides like Napoleon Dynamite, yelling, "You'll nevah captchya me alive, coppahs!"

I love how in this picture, the woman in the back is disgusted.. because the purchaser just shit her tight-fitting white summer pants and the smell is mildly off-putting, and the stain.. oh Lord, the stain is expanding, and nothing's gonna ever be the same again sweetie.  Not in this town!  Heh.

    Same thing goes for the ATM, for that rare reason you need cash now-a-days.  It's a bit more scary, because you aren't told right-off how much you got.  In the case of WalMart, you can just run away suddenly, screaming your cupcakes are still in the oven or something, but at the ATM, it's more personal and intimate as you have to enter several things before you get to the result, such as the PIN, amount to take out, which account, etc.  We're rewarded this way by the sudden sound of a money counter.  We don't get a happy "Success 100% Win!" optic yummy on the screen, just the sound of a bill counter doing its duty.  I suspect programmers of ATMs don't consider that someone might not have $20 (plus the ATM transaction fee) in their account, but I'd say most Americans know what that's like from time to time, or year to year.  When you're in that slump, and you "win" the $20, it's such a sigh of relief.  Even those who have a few hundred bucks in their account are still probably pretty happy about it that they can withdraw some cash, lest their account be hacked in this wild-west of an internet world with modern-day bank-robberies going on every day (should be a felony, as well as not using a turn-signal, or using a cellphone in any manner while driving, actually, that should be immediate Dredd-style execution for failing to embrace the driving experience fully and hindering the lives of thousands around you..  I hate the ambivalent dummies who mess with my universe.)

There goes Mike digressing again..
I've had a bit of luck over the years, and some perseverance as well to get the things I own.  None of it coming easily like some in Life.  I've had to work hard for all of it, but at least I can value everything I own, as well as every piece of knowledge I sought (unlike smartphone owners never experiencing the joy of a true search-journey and then the reward of discovery at a library, untethered from the effort to actually seek knowledge).   For me, I'm better for it, and stronger.  I myself don't need the internet to know things.  Someday, I hope it goes away for, say, a week, as well as all cellphone coverage and TV.  Just a week.  We'll see how folks get by.

  Maybe I'm alone in this relief, but I doubt it.  I don't make a ton of money and I live rather simply, with a few toys here and there, saved-up or paid on-credit over several years, like most of us.    I suspect, like me, there's that apprehension in every soul right before a transaction as it processes, and when it works, it's a JACKPOT!

1 comment:

  1. I live in a nice, middle class suburban neighborhood, I have 3 cars (2 new, one old school), and I have my gadgets. People always assume I'm loaded. I'm anything but. I'm just good at spending my money and finding great deals. I once had an old coworker that drove a 1980s falling apart Jeep Cherokee, ate ramen noodles every single day for lunch, lived in a dinky old house in a crappy neighborhood, and always complained about not having enough money. And he made $106,000 a year. I thought, then what the hell do you spend your money on if you can't live on THAT?