I was in the Credit Union the other day. For those of you not in the know, the Credit Union is a bit like a bank that doesn’t supply a laser card. You can’t get an overdraft, it’s impossible to pay utility bills and likewise you can’t really do anything that involves monthly money transaction stuff. Bottom line, you pay in money and they’ll give you a loan of about three times how much you have put in. The good thing is that most Credit Unions don’t do a credit check on you; they use their own judgement so it means that people like me can be deemed as credit worthy. In a way, it should be called the Debt Union, because most people I know don’t have any credit, just a loan that goes on for years and years because whenever you’re broke they offer to top up your loan for you. It means you end up always in debt and they earn money on the interest.
Well anyways, there I was in the Credit Union and couldn’t find my account number, so the nice lady with the red neck scarf looks me up in the computer and says ‘ah yes, I have you here: three dependants, rented accommodation.’
‘Excuse me?’ I say, so she repeats it ‘three dependants, rented accommodation.’
She says in that sort of neutral nasal tone exclusive to banking clerks in tidy uniforms with neck scarves that make them look like air hostesses.
‘Ah yes’, I say, that’s me. You see, it took me a second to recognise myself in there. Had I been asked to describe myself in four words it might be more on the lines of
‘struggling writer, ageing badly.’ But I knew what she meant. The three dependants bit highlights that I am more than likely what the State refers to as ‘a one parent family’. I did prefer the old ‘deserted wives’ status. ‘Deserted wife’ has a shawl in there somewhere, ‘one parent family’ is a bit too politically correct for a struggling writer, ageing badly. Of course what the nice lady in the Credit Union is pointing out with those two words, is that three dependants definitely mean three black marks on my credit rating, and whether I’ve been deserted or did the deserting, being on my own with three kids says something about me socially, and that something is most likely not praise for doing the work of two parents on the income of one.
The ‘rented accommodation’ remark is interesting though. A few years ago when they defined me as a rented accommodation sort of person, it was probably a bad thing. It meant that I’d never gotten my act together to get a mortgage. I wasn’t respectable and bottom line, people who don’t have mortgages don’t have security. Rent, in their eyes is ‘wasted money’, so only wasters rent property. But these days, living in rented accommodation means that I’m not in negative equity, most likely not in arrears and less likely to be evicted than my respectable house owning counterparts are. It also means that if my struggling writer career ever does take off, I’ll be one of the people who can buy a house at a realistic price.
So come to think of it, ‘three dependants, rented accommodation’ might be a lot more fortunate than it sounds. After all, the urchins are likely to get jobs at some stage and support their mother. The rented accommodation is constantly under negotiation with a landlord who happily reduces the rent when there are empty houses on the street where we live.
I bet the Credit Union love people like me. I was thinking of going in this afternoon and getting my loan topped up, I just can’t think of anything to buy.