JournalismPakistan.com June 20, 2013
It took 14 years. But this morning I am debt free. I ran seven newspapers in the GCC at different times over the last 29 years and people were kind to the chair. Among them were bankers. Sweet talking, slippery clever guys who sent me free loaded credit cards with fancy promises and, genius as I am, I fell for it, hook, liner and wanker.
I suddenly discovered I had 11 cards worth thousands. Gradually, with insidious intent, the cards kept moving upwards until I became a victim of the Stockholm syndrome. They had me captive and I was ingratiating and running scared, trying to juggle my finances.
Since I couldn’t compromise my character trait (tried, even considered it) and keep my job by being a team player (shut up and say nothing, same difference) when I lost my last job in 150 seconds for telling the truth I discovered to my horror that I was now jobless and in hock over these bloody cards and paying out a mini fortune a month in flipping interest.
Most demeaning was the daily hassle of dealing with these call centers banks employ full of people who are told that the only color of your conversation is to be insulting and threating and say things like please pay by this afternoon.
I finally ended up paying five times what I owed these blighters with no relief. The base price stayed the same.
The calls would start at 0800 hours and run till 1800 hours. They were 508….and 408…numbers and the folks made you feel cheap and sad. They took the sun out of the day.
With God’s grace I was able to keep my nose above water but just about. The same CEOs who were so keen to shake your hand and give you a Mont Blanc pen all disappeared.
The Lord was kind and something nice happened and I got a little liquidity. The family said, no way, dude you don’t spend one dirham of this money till we tear up the cards.
So we had the bonfires of the vanities and we burnt the defunct cards and this morning we paid off the final one and walked into the sun.
That said, if you like this ‘yoke off my shoulder’ story and you are in the same boat running on empty this is only the first part. Now that I don’t owe them diddley squat, let me tell you how difficult it is to get them to give you a letter saying the cards are closed. Every one of them needs seven days to process. Truth is they don't want to close the cards. Sir, for 14 years you didn’t give me seven seconds.
Tell your friends. Get rid of your credit card debt, stop worrying about all this platinum/titanium/ black card crap, that is all it is…crap. They play to your ego and they dick you over…totally.
You cannot win. You will not win. Do yourselves a favor. I got out of it with luck. You may not. You probably will not. Find a way. To them you are just a prey to be hunted down and shot.
Get up now, pull out those pieces of plastic and do the maths…you are a loser any which way. It never goes away. It just sucks you dry. They will chase you to the ends of the earth and don’t think they won’t. Get your control back.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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A study conducted by JournalismPakistan.com and Communications Research Strategies on the economic situation of slain journalists' families and journalists displaced due to security threats.