What Credit Crunch?

The answer to the country's credit crisis might be found in a walk around the mall.

Like 97 percent percent of us, I pay my bills, my mortgage. And because 3 percent of the people in our country are raging deadbeats, our leaders now have us believing that Armageddon is coming. 

But I wasn’t buying the dance, not by a long shot. We Americans are resilient consumers who spend on our egos. That’s why we walk the malls searching for a new look, charging the slightest of improvements along the way.  

So recently, at four in the afternoon, I conducted my own experiment at the Mall of New Hampshire. I wanted to know how much credit I could get during this so-called “credit crisis.” I focused on seven different stores and set a goal to get $10,000 worth of credit in under an hour. 

I parked outside Macy’s and headed for the service counter. The perfume aisle in the women's department curled my nose hairs. “Can I get a credit card?” I asked the middle-aged woman behind the counter at customer service. “Sure can,” she said. I expected to be fingerprinted or even water boarded for asking. After a quick read of my license and some personal information, I had my first $1,000 line of credit, and it was only 4:07 p.m. 

I cut a hard, dry laugh, shot my shoulders, then headed out into the mall. 

Next stop: Zale’s Jewelry. Nice, pricey items made of silver and gold. They’d never let a Greasehead like me run a tab here. I asked the woman behind the glass counter if I could get a Zale’s credit card. “I’d just need some information, she said. “I have that.” I told her. “Well, it only takes a minute," she said. Perfect. I've got time. 

By 4:26 p.m. I was approved for another $5,000 at Zale’s. Amazing. I told the woman I might see her on Saturday. I’ve been thinking about getting a silver pinkie ring in the shape of a horseshoe.

Half-cocked with confidence, I headed over to Abercrombie and Fitch to roll some dice. A girl with a Bedford-style smile approached me near the sweater vests. I told her I was looking for a credit card. “We have that,” she said. " Right over here, please.” Same drill: my license and a couple signatures. It wasn’t even quarter-till-five and I was approved for yet another $1,000.

I had 15 mintes to go before my experiment was over. I was down $3,000. Radio Shack told me my approval would take a week. As did Victoria Secrets. I asked the long-legged woman behind the counter if she minded if I hung out until then. Denied, yet undaunted, I motored over to Old Navy. Right away I was hustled to the second register. I punched in my S.S. number and presto: another grand was granted. Love this country!

By now I was down $2,000 with only five minutes to play. Staring up at Eastern Mountain Sports, I laughed at myself. “You can’t hardly swim, rookie!” I wasn’t even sure EMS provided credit cards. Well, they do, and before I knew it I was approved for another $3,500. Rattlesnake Mountain here I come!

It was just shy of 5 p.m. and I had about $12,000 in fresh credit to spend. I was tempted to buy some new club shirts, a bottle of Mambo Cologne and some wing tipped leather shoes. Instead, I went home, canceled each card with an annual payment, then looked up at the sky and was happy just knowing it wasn't on fire. 


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