VISA Black Card Offer: From Pauper to VIP
ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
I’ve lived the life of a pauper for a reason. I like it. Well, most days I like it. And the alternative is worse.
The dusty wooden floorboards in my antique Los Angeles apartment, the leaky toilet, and the armed robberies that happen once or twice a month around the block give me an edginess that not only links with my heritage of Vikings and farmers, it’s also a boon for the imaginative qualities of a writer.
There’s also a general sense of pleasure living nearby the slums. For example, every time the president speaks of a declining unemployment rate, or every time LA’s Police Chief, Charlie Beck, lies about violent crimes being at a record low, I get to say out my open window, “Yeah…right.”
LUXURY WITHOUT LIMITS
So when I received Visa’s BLACK CARD invitation in the mail, I checked the name on the letter twice. Who made the mistake, here? I wondered.
The card, issued by Barclays, is made of stainless steel and, as you imagined, is sleek black. Many splendors are attached to the BLACK CARD, like VIP treatment at hotels, various luxury gifts, and access to hang out with other pricks in over 350 VIP airport lounges in 200 cities around the world.
And if all the interesting pricks stayed home that day, I’ll read the Wall Street Journal while in an extended state of immoderation.
All for a low annual fee of $495. And a modest interest rate of 14.99% (although it varies, and Visa says it goes with the highest Prime Rate listed in the Wall Street Journal. So that could be a sticking point later.)
I’m not very cool in VIP lounges, though. I’d be running on jumpy nerves, just anxious to be in the uptight presence of people who take material goods so seriously they sign up for stainless steel credit cards.
“I had to get a new wallet,” I’d tell a hawk-eyed businessman from Texas. “My old one only had the strength to handle plastic. But a steel, carbon hybrid? Goodness. Good God. Gee whiz. It’s a wallet buster. I tried this baby out last month at the used bookstore, but the damned thing was so thick it split the little side slit of the credit card countertop terminal.”
The Texas financial heavy-hitter would click his tongue and say, “Ah, shucks.”
LIFTING ME UP & OUT OF THE DREARY MASSES
Certainly the decision to send me the enticing offer wasn’t made based on my income levels or spending habits. Unless buying a used book
and a half pound of Peet’s coffee every two weeks qualified me as a unique and energetic consumer. There must be some attractive element to my character, then, or so I’ve deduced. I’ve flirted with the idea that the elite have summoned me.
I’ll wait for my email response from the Director of Customer Experience, Marina Kissam. She signed the offer I received. She must know why they did it.
My spiritualist says Kissam is the CEO gunner type who needs a closet filled with credit cards crafted from precious metals. There’s a sense of high-class permanence to it. A subconscious understanding that a person can never die if she is roped so viciously to the earth through credit and payments that her spirit has but little chance to slip away.
Of course that’s nonsense. She could die any time, and so could you, and so could I. Then your surprised relatives will say, “Ah, shit, look at all this goddamned debt. Who’s gonna pay it?”
Kissam may shed light on why VISA is trying to monetarily weaponize me. Perhaps she’ll flatter me with the hours she’s spent rifling through my Facebook posts, determining if I would be a qualified candidate. That would have lead her to my Dear Dirty America articles.
She might write to me:
“After reading your spellbinding work, ‘Idiocracy Alive & Well Around Beverly Hills Hotel Rooftop Pool‘, I see you are ripe for the kind of major-league luxury card that America’s most egotistical middle class consumer devils sign up for and pay extra money to re-validate their belief that they truly are, beyond what they’ve already been told on TV, exceptional. We want to put you in the saddle and let you ride.”
“No saddle for me,” I’d tell her. “I prefer riding bareback.”
My shady, criminally-run global mega bank, Wells Fargo, offers me their ‘normal people’ credit card every time I step in the door. I haven’t budged yet.
“I don’t have a credit card,” I always tell them, “and I never want one. They should be forbidden, or at least banned to anyone with a soul.”
To which the bank teller usually responds, as if she hadn’t heard what I said, “That is exactly the reason you need to sign up today and get started building up your credit score. Don’t you want to buy a house?” she asks. “Get that credit bulked up for when you want to buy a new car? What do you say?”
I tell them a line they must have heard thousands of times. “If I can’t buy it with the money I have, I don’t want it. If I’m a slave who lives in a house and drives a car that I don’t really own, I’d rather be a slave without the added responsibility.”
Next time they offer a card, I’ll say, “If it’s not stainless steel, you can go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut.” In a bank, they call that fairly aggressive language. Among the commoners in my neighborhood, it’s a fairly pleasant way of saying, No thank you, not this time.
HERE, TALK TO MY SPIRITUALIST
Once, I told the sparkly-eyed Latina bank teller that I wanted her to explain the benefits of the Wells Fargo credit card to my spiritual handler, as he is much more ‘in-tune’ than I am, and he would be able to make a sound decision.
“Here,” I said after I’d dialed my spiritualist, and slid the smartphone beneath the protective glass shielding her from me. “Go on, take it, he’s saying hello.”
With her slim fingers gripping the phone, she made a grand speech in under one minute. She put a pleasing puff of wind in her ‘P’s, especially when she said, “Annual Percentage Rate for Purchases”.
When she stopped speaking, she glanced at me. Excited, she was. We both knew she’d nailed it.
I heard my spiritualist bark, in his nasally voice, the one and only response I knew he’d give her, “Tawak ‘ala Allah!”
It means, Trust in God.
The teller, after realizing my spiritualist had hung up on her, handed the phone back. She asked, “What did he say?”
“Nothing you’d want to know about,” I told her. “In fact, it’s offensive if you believe in the sanctity of credit cards and fractional reserve banking.”
A SHITTY DEAL IS A SHITTY DEAL
If Kissam doesn’t respond to my inquiry, I may never know what prompted the semi-elite offer for a card boasting ‘luxury without limits’. Maybe she saw the side-by-side photo of me and my possible cousin, General George Armstrong Custer. Maybe she was impressed by my resemblance to Old Iron Butt.
General Custer would tell her where to stick it. He’d see the attempt at entrapment right away. Although we can’t be sure, since his bravado and fading intuition marched him straight into the largest trap of his life. A mistake for which he and his men were bled dry into the prairie soil.
Not unlike a 21st century bleeding dry through high interest rates and glamorous promises of new stuff all the time.
A few years ago I received an offer from Springleaf financial services that was not illustrious. It was the type of offer I expect to be given an impoverished person.
It was also, not unlike the flirty BLACK CARD deal, a shitty deal. And I hate shitty deals. They offend me. I’m not a moron. I don’t pay interest on money I don’t have. I don’t pay an organization with money to make up numbers out of thin air so I can then use those numbers and pay back 15-35% interest to them.
It’s all a bunch of flattering, false stimulation without any payoff. Or, as hippie cult leader and notorious outlaw musician Charles Manson once bellowed in the face of a young, professional journalist interviewing him, “These jealous snakes are always jerking me off, but they never let me come.”
He meant the prison guards were always promising him a guitar if he behaved himself, but when the time came, and he felt he’d behaved properly, they reneged on the deal.
Or, put another way, my overweight spiritualist, with his pasty white skin and prickly yellow chin hairs, told me after I’d forced him to speak to the Latina bank teller, “Why did you make me talk to that woman with the pretty voice? My genitals started a-tingling and were juiced up for a female I couldn’t have and have no right to experience.”
He meant sexually.
But he might as well have meant that if you don’t have the right to vast treasures and expensive consumer goods because you don’t have the money or means to acquire them, then stay away from them, turn the other cheek, and you’ll be happier with what you have. Let the fools enjoy their opulent heartache and misery.