I just got back from Sri Lanka, where I had been teaching english to children in Colombo. Look for a big post with lots of photos soon (sorting out over 600!)
A local friend came to me one day when I just woke up, and was still sleep drunk. He needed help with an essay about creditcards. He was dead serieus and I was like a (sleep)drunk guy.
I told him to grab a piece of paper and write down the first things that came to mind. I did the same, and this is the weird story I came up with:
1. Why was the creditcard invented?
2. Who invented the creditcard?
3. When was the creditcard first introduced?
4. How has the creditcard changed the way we live?
5. Why/how did the size of today’s creditcard become standard?
1. Once upon a time, not as long ago as the phrase makes us believe, there was a groovy fellow who didn’t like coinage and paper money. They cramped his style. Coinage was too bulky and inconvenient, and he kept mixing up paper money with toilet paper. Especially after a good night out when he was so drunk he couldn’t tell the difference between a car and a horse. He found out the hard way that horses don’t run on gasoline, and their exhaust gasses have a peculiar fragrance that is much less tolerated than that of the average car.
One day he thought: “Enough of this nonsense! I need something new. Something that doesn’t cramp my style. Something that’s more convenient than conventional money. And something that can be personalised”
And thus, he went to the bank with a small piece of plastic that had a smiley drawn on it. He hold it boldly in front of the clerck and declared: “Let it be known, from this day forth and all eternity, I shall pay my bills with this piece of plastic. And it shall be known as the credit card!”
The clerck picked his nose, ate the booger and said with an empty look in his face: “Whatever you’re trying to sell, I’m not interested. Mata epa.” With the groovy fellow still standing boldy in his victory pose, holding his card up in the air however, the clerck paused for a moment and said: “Hey dude, maybe that’s not a bad idea. Take it up with the big boss man over there.” He pointed at the bank manager.
“Groovy!”, said the groovy fellow. “Peace me breda” the clerck replied.
So the groovy guy took his plastic card and his idea to the bank manager. The bank manager farted, pretended it wasn’t him, then said: “Whatever you’re trying to sell, I’m not interested. Mata epa.”
But as the groovy fellow jumped on the desk and declared this plastic card to be the renaissance of modern times, the bank manager paused and said: “Yeah, sure man, that sounds like a good plan.”
And that is how the creditcard came into existence.
2. The creditcard was invented by a groovy fellow who needed something that wouldn’t cramp his style. I don’t know his name, but hey, who cares, he’s groovy.
3. The creditcard was first introduced when the groovy guy had a need for it.
4. The creditcard has changed the way we handle our money transactions. We no longer need to take physical, real money with us. We use a card that informs our banks whenever a transaction is being made. There is a lot of debate as to when and what culture first started using money. I read in the museum in Colombo that the chinese were believed to be (one of) the first cultures to start using metal money. But now that I have internet again, I’ve seen sources suggesting differently. (Lydians, Phoenicians) Either way, the point is that we’re once again migrating towards a point were physical (metal or printed) money seems to become less and less important.
Another point is, but that doesn’t mean this has anything to do with creditcards, what is also changing is the way we consume. We have less and less need for physical property, as long as we can have access to it when we require it. We don’t buy physical CDs, we buy mp3s from the internet. We don’t buy movies, we rent or stream them. We don’t need to own a car, as long as we can lease one and trade it in for a better one when a new model hits the market.
5. because the groovy guy said so.