The Little Girl and the Plastic Card
a short story about curbing your "wanter" and being responsible
inspired by true events.
Once upon a time there was a little girl. She was smart and she had a kind heart, but she suffered from a disorder. It seems that whenever she walked into a store, she was struck with the unbearable desire to purchase something. But the little girl almost always turned out empty pockets, unable to find the coveted green paper she knew the people behind the counter wanted before she could take her desired item home.
Then one day, while she was getting groceries with her mother, she learned of a better way to take home the things she wanted. It was small and plastic, and her mother called it a 'credit card'.
"Mommy, mommy!" the girl exclaimed. "I want one, too! Then I can get all of the things that I want, and all by myself!"
"No sweetheart," her mother said, gently patting her on the head. "You can't have one of these until you're a grown-up."
Disappointed, the child nodded her head. And after that, she dreamed of the day when she would be a grown-up. She would get a plastic card and never have to worry about not having money again.
When the little girl got older, she did indeed get herself a card. And although she had learned that having the card didn't take place of the money, the symptoms of her disorder were still present.
Only now when she walked into a store, turning out empty pockets didn't mean going home empty handed. All she had to do was swipe the plastic card and sign her name. Life was good.
But then one day, as she was minding her own business, her father poked his head in her bedroom. As he pushed the door open to talk to her, she saw that in his hands he held an envelope. She recognized her name on the front, and it bore the same logo as her credit card.
"What is this!?" her father asked, a confused expression on his face.
The girl batted her eyelashes and bit her lip. "It's my credit card bill, right Daddy?" she asked, doing her best to look innocent. Although she didn't know the amount she owed, she gathered by the look on his face that it wasn't too small.
"$600 dollars?" Now the frustration was more apparent. He held the envelope up, as if to show that he had proof of that terrible number.
The girl pursed her lips. Truly that was an amount higher than what she was expecting. And that was just for one card. Her mind raced as she tried to calculate how much could be on the others, for she had many plastic cards to appease her spending habits.
She quickly apologized for the amount, knowing that she meant every word when she told her father that she'd had no idea it would be that much.
With the help of her parents, she gradually paid back the money she owed, and for awhile everything was fine. The amounts billed to her monthly were manageable.
Then, slower than the first time, she accumulated a large sum again. On more than one of her beloved cards. She began to pay what she could, and for awhile did a decent job of controlling her spending disorder without the help of the plastic. But over time the temptation proved to be too strong.
That was when she knew. She had to make some hard decisions. She couldn't afford to keep spending the way she had been.
So she picked a card. The one with the highest interest rate. She took it out of her wallet. She sat it on the kitchen counter, then grabbed a pair of scissors.
After taking a moment to say goodbye, she forced herself to make the cut.
One little snip, and the card was gone. She prepared herself for sadness, but as she stared at the two halves she realized something. The sadness wasn't there. Instead, she felt a blooming sense of self, of responsibility, and of power. No more would she let the plastic control her. No, now she was free. The money still needed to be paid, but now she would not add more to it.
She felt confidant that she could do better in the future, learning from her financial mistakes instead of repeating them. As she scooped the remnants of her card into the trash can, she took a moment to enjoy the pride she felt. She held her head high as she left the kitchen, the smile on her face worth more than any silly plastic credit limit.
The Little Girl and the Plastic Card by Sarah E. Thomas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.