I met my first loan officer at age 12. I wanted a 12-inch black & white TV. It cost $59.98. My income was $30.00 per month. The income was “seasoned” because I’d held the paper route more than a year.
I had no expenses. I also had no credit history.
But there was no risk in this loan. If I didn’t pay, I’d be grounded. Or sent to bed without supper. Or spanked.
My dad was the loan officer.
This was new territory for him too. So far, he’d only fronted me free room & board. An occasional Dilly Bar. A swig of beer. Half of that double Popsicle.
But flat-out buy me something with cash money?
When he was a kid he'd had to sell his fingers for cash, so dammit, I should do the same.
I never noticed any of his fingers missing but he often asked me to pull one.
Anyway, back to the loan.
I must have caught him after church. Or payday. Or sex.
I was always a student of reading dad's vibe but I was still young. I’d experienced many spectacularly wrong reads. His throbbing neck vein was my #1 tell to abort.
But today, I divined that Mr Magnanimous was feeling his oats. So I went directly for the close.
“OK, how about you buy me the TV and I’ll give you 10 payments of $6.00 per month?”
Even then, charging your own kid interest was frowned upon. But I’d eat the two cents.
I drew up a handwritten payment spreadsheet that listed the payment amounts & due dates. We’d both initial & date the empty box when I made each payment.
All official-like. Just like all my bank deals since, I kept the pen.
In the hierarchy of brothers, I was now the shit. I was oldest, had my own room AND my own TV. To them, I was wearing a monocle, sipping sherry & smoking Pall Malls from a gilded holder.
All I needed was a dame on my arm. But that required a helluva lot bigger loan than dad would ever pop for.
I did make every one of those $6.00 payments on time. I kept that payment paperwork for years. In fact, longer than that TV.
Today, I can’t remember what happened to that paperwork or the TV.
There’s a lesson in here somewhere. Something about fathers & sons & obligations & paying your own way.
Fathers were gruff back then. Mine would never say those three little words to mere dwarfs living in his house.
But I knew my dad loved me because he always said, “I hope you have FIFTY kids & they all turn out just like you!”
And afterall, he DID give me that first loan.
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