December 29, 2004

Credit Cards and HAWAII!

I've never been in debt. Okay, that's not entirely true. Yes, I've been in the kind of debt where I had to make car payments, and I'm currently in the kind of debt that says I have to make house payments.

I've never been in credit card debt, however. Truth be told, I've never even owned a credit card. I don't trust them. I've been conditioned not to trust them thanks to many years of living with college roommates.

Most of my college roommates had this weird outlook on credit cards. Basically, they thought credit cards were magical pieces of plastic that just magically paid for things and that they were somehow immune from the the ensuing debt that came about due to excessive credit card spending.

I'll admit it: I was sort of jealous of my roommates and their magical credit cards. After all, they always seemed to have money and, if they didn't, they just whipped out their credit cards. Books? Put them on the credit card. Food? Put it on the credit card. Night out at a strip club? credit card.

And yet there I was writing checks and budgeting like a fool. I remember thinking that I was doing everything all wrong. I mean, there I would sit, meticulously lording over my finances, while my roommates went waltzing all over town swiping their credit cards with the careless glee of a six-year-old with a loaded pistol.

Then, one year, I was a roommate with a guy named Chad. Chad was actually a former high school classmate of mine. He was, and is, a tech-head. He's one of those guys who was born to know technology. Way back in elementary school, he taught me how to write simple programs for the Apple IIc, and he always just seemed to know everything about computers.

But he didn't know shit about personal finances. He whipped out any one of his many credit cards with the swiftness and ease of a Old West gunslinger. By the time we became roommates, he had already accrued over $10,000 in credit card debt.

I remember thinking what an incredibly large amount of money that seemed to be, especially when I factored in the understanding that he also received financial aid, and that he also worked. Granted, he worked at the local Brach's candy factory on the Gummi Bear line, which paid about as well as you might imagine, but it was still money, so I came to the conclusion that old Chad was a pretty carefree spender.

Well, one day, I popped into Chad's outrageously messy room where I noticed, tucked between two huge bags of pilfered defective Gummi Bears, a credit card notice that was slugged "Urgent!" and another that was slugged "Immediate Payment Required" and still another that read "We Break Fingers And Toes."

Then the calls started coming in, usually two or three a day. "Is Mr. Haugen available? We really need to speak with him." No, he's not here. "Are you sure you're not really Mr. Haugen?" Yes, I'm sure. "Well, when he comes in, have him call Mike at Discover immediately." *sound of shotgun cocking* Will do.

Chad was masterful when it came to avoiding creditors. He always seemed to leave the apartment just two or three minutes before a creditor called. It was like he had some sort of sixth sense. Which was all fine and dandy, except that I ended up being the intermediary between Chad and the creditors, so I got to absorb all the impatient anger and suspicion of basically every credit card company on the planet.

It was the day a creditor appeared, in person, at our doorstep that I realized Chad's debt situation was probably more dire than Chad cared to admit. There was a knock at the door, I answered, and a gentleman in a suit that looked both impressive and threatening stood before me. He asked to see a Mr. Chad Haugen, at which point I heard a little scuffling emanating from Chad's room as Chad scurried out the back entrance which, conveniently, was located at the far end of his bedroom.

We chatted together, the ominous creditor and me, for about an hour, waiting for Chad to get home, even though, of course, there was no way in holy hell Chad was going to make an appearance while that guy was in our apartment. I even had to produce my ID, so the creditor was satisfied that I wasn't, in fact, Chad Haugen.

After that, I believe, Chad ended up getting a loan from his parents, or somebody, so he could pay off his credit card debt at least enough to keep the creditors at bay. He eventually got a job working at IBM, which was a long-assed commute from Winona to Rochester, but paid a whole lot more than the Gummi Bear line.

As for me, Chad's experience with credit cards pretty much scared me away from plastic for good.


I'm on vacation. In Hawaii. I only mention this because I like to brag about the fact that I'm on vacation. In Hawaii.

So, to recap: I'm on vacation. In Hawaii. And I like to brag about that. I also like to brag about the fact that I'm a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness. Come to think about it, I just enjoy bragging in general.

Anyway, because I'm on vacation, in Hawaii, this post will be dedicated to my favorite recreational pastime that you, too, can enjoy if you find yourself, like me, on vacation, in Hawaii.

The recreational pastime I most enjoy while I'm on vacation, in Hawaii, is the activity known as bodyboarding. Bodyboarding is very similar to surfboarding, except that it's completely different, right down to the different name.

Whereas, when surfing, you stand up on a long board, bodyboarding requires you to lay down on a chest-length chunk of dense styrofoam. Utilizing this primitive tool, you then try to ride a wave to shore. It's kind of like surfboarding for complete and total wussies who can't for the life of themselves imagine standing upright on a long board while riding waves and opt, instead, to lay down and scream while riding waves.

For those of you not familiar with waves, let me explain: waves are large walls of rolling water created by either one or several gods. These gods create waves for the express purpose of showing off. This is all backed up by solid scientific data, which I'd cite in detail right now, but I'm not going to.

Anyway, if you choose to bodyboard while on vacation, in Hawaii, you will at some point be required to actually enter the ocean to confront said waves. It's at that point that you'll discover, quite quickly, that waves are rather powerful. My first introduction to the power of waves involved getting my legs knocked out from under me and smashing my groin on an exposed lava boulder. I seriously considered giving up bodyboarding right then and there, but I persevered and now, years later, I can still feel a slight tingling pain in my groin.

I've experienced my share of bodyboarding-related injuries. My first year while on vacation, in Hawaii, I suffered a black eye and what I believe to have been a broken neck or back of some sort, when a large wave mashed my face into the sea floor which, although it consists almost entirely of sand, feels suspiciously like concrete when a wave mashes your face into it.

In addition, I've suffered more than a few scrapes and cuts related to bodyboarding, so you can probably see why I consider it my favorite pastime while I'm on vacation, in Hawaii. It's kind of like I feel compelled to punish myself for some secret transgression and I'm convincing myself I'm actually having fun while doing it.

Anyway, I'll be back in Minnesota within a few short days, provided I don't find a high-paying job here in Hawaii all of a sudden. Yes, I'll be back in the climate of sub-zero temperatures, where bodyboarding is all but a distant memory.

Although I'll still have my lingering groin pain to always remind me, so there's that.

Posted by Ryan at December 29, 2004 12:36 AM

taht was wonderful. except u got the last sentence all wrong: instead of "Although I'll still have my lingering groin pain to always remind me, so there's that."

you should have:
"Although I'll still have my lingering groin pain to always remind me of my vacation. in hawaii."
seriously now. lol.


Posted by: kim at December 29, 2004 01:45 AM

Ha! I'm not on vacation - anywhere, and I like it that way - so there!
I am just LoViNg the cold weather here in Michigan and really looking forward to the expected rain/freezing rain we are to be getting tomorrow & Friday.

[The above is, of course, all lies and I am pretty dang jealous of one smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness right now.]

Posted by: Tina at December 29, 2004 03:16 PM

Leash burn sucks as well.

Glad you're having fun....

Posted by: Lily at December 29, 2004 07:28 PM

Hey Ryan, I'm not on vacation in Hawaii but I did spend a good portion of yesterday in shorts outside. Soak up all that nice warm Hawaiian sun, son, because its cold, cold, cold back at home.

Glad you're having fun and I dig bodyboarding alot as well. Though the occasional washing machine cycle with requisite face slam into sand does detract from that enjoyment somewhat.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at January 1, 2005 12:46 PM

You suck. And we hate you and are totally jealous. While you are on vacation. In Hawaii.

Posted by: Donna at January 1, 2005 10:45 PM

So? I lived in Hawaii, for over four years, and you didn't/don't.

Posted by: Victor and his seventeen pet rats at January 3, 2005 06:58 AM

I suck too then :)

Posted by: david at February 22, 2005 02:20 PM
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