In the dingy alley lies a discarded newspaper, its headlines screaming “Credit Crunch,” “Housing Crisis” and “Record Unemployment.” Beneath the paper huddles the pathetic credit score, Ray Ting, his digits shriveled and tarnished. Ray clutches a useless plastic card and rests his head on a weathered cardboard sign: Will Work for Minimum Payment.
Ray wasn’t always in such bad shape. He once was a respected member of the financial community.
He was accepted anywhere. Ray just flashed his 792 and the velvet rope was swept aside to allow him entrance into any financial institution in the country. He didn’t even have to ask. He was deluged with invitations to join. Ray always considered himself a savvy, responsible guy, but the tempting introductory offers that were dangled in front of him became more than he could resist.
Ray was living the American dream. He ignored the street-corner prophets who warned of impending doom. Ray blew off their cries of “Save, save. The end is near.” But the prophets were right. The Great Financial Plague swept across America. Banks needed bailouts; lending came to a standstill. Phrases such as “job security” and “mandatory cutback” floated ominously around workplace lunchrooms. For Sale signs became all-too-common lawn ornaments, and Foreclosure became the new “F bomb.” Panic ensued.
Soon, credit scores that had stood tall and proud for years on the top of the mountain plummeted down the slope. Seven hundred, six hundred, five hundred… Chunks of broken numerals littered the landscape at the base of Great Credit Mountain. Ray clawed desperately in an attempt to maintain his prestigious number, but he too started to plummet.
Exclusive clubs that once welcomed Ray with open arms now posted burly security guards at the door to keep him out. The invitations stopped. His requests were denied. Ray’s American dream had become a nightmare.
It was only a matter of time before Ray got mixed up with a bad crowd. He started robbing Peter to pay Paul. This kept Ray afloat for a while, but soon Peter caught on to Ray’s game and slammed the door in his face. The trouble was, Paul still demanded to be paid. And Paul was not a tolerant man. Meanwhile, Ray’s number continued its rapid decline.
Ray mourned the loss of his prestigious digits. He went through the classic stages of grief. He denied that it could be happening to him. He became angry at the creditors who no longer considered him a friend. He tried to bargain with them. They didn’t listen. He became depressed.
But in the depths of his depression, Ray had a revelation. He knew that he was more than a number; he had worth as a being. He refused to be defined by the three digits that the financial community pinned to his back.
Ray figures that one day his number will once again be at a respectable level. But in the meantime, he’s decided to just ride the credit roller coaster. He might be scared; he might get sick; but he knows the ride eventually will level off and transport him safely back to solid ground.