the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Traveling on plastic
Makes spending elastic
And life is fantastic...
Though the bills are disastric!

A Walt Handelsman cartoon shows a financial news reporter announcing:

"...A Florida man was arrested after stealing 17 million credit card numbers... Fortunately, he was unable to buy anything because they were all maxed out."

Shown below is a humorous guide to "kredit":

2011 All eyes were on the radiant bride as her father escorted her down the aisle. They reached the altar and the waiting groom; the bride kissed her father and placed something in his "hant" (hand). The guests in the front pews responded with ripples of "gelekhter" (laughter). Even the rabbi smiled broadly. As her father gave her away in marriage, the bride gave him back his "kredit-kartl" (credit card).

2006 Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson ("Jewtopia") say, "When used properly, your credit card will garner you points that can be used to stretch your vacation dollar. They discuss the major credit cards which can do this for the Wandering Jew:

Credit Card American Airlines Citibank MasterCard Miles you get just for signing up:
$7,500 for Platinum
Select; 10,000 for the Gold account

Pro: No blackout dates for travel on American Airlines, American Eagle, and American Connection carriers.

Con: No blackout dates means you've lost your excuse as to why you can't come home and spend the High Holidays with your family.

2004 According to Nira Arnon [MSNBC, 12/6/04], There's a new credit card for Jews. It won't work on Sabbath. Bank Leumi plans to introduce a special credit card that will not work on the Sabbath and that will not function in stores that don't observe the Sabbath.

2003 When it comes to making bail at the county lockup in Valhalla, NY, all major credit cards are accepted. The move beyond cash has to do with convenience for the incarcerated and potential cost savings.

2000 To encourage the use of cash cards, Visa put about 10,500 in boxes of Kellogg's cereals. Most of the reusable cards came with a stored value of $20, but 500 were worth $100 and two were loaded with $25,000.

2000 Starting in July, New York City "taksi" (taxi) cabs accepted credit cards.

1999 President Clinton whipped out his American Express card at Dolly's Books in Park City, Utah, but found that rank doesn't always have its privileges. The plastic card in question had just expired and was rejected. He had to pony up $62.66 in "mezumen" (cash) to cover the four books he had chosen.

1999 Cartoon character, Cathy, is meeting with her "khezhbn-firer" (accountant). He looks at her 1998 return and says, "Here's your tax bill, Cathy. Will that be check or charge?"


For the first time in history, you can charge your taxes on a credit card! Instead of agonizing over writing one huge ("groys") check...simply charge your taxes...Sit back...and reap the rewards of good citizenship!!

Cathy replies, "FREQUENT FLIER MILES!"

The accountant replies,"Oops, sorry. Your credit cards are all maxed out."

1998 The Budgeting and Credit Counseling Services in New York decorated a Christmas tree with cut up credit cards.

1998 Chase Manhattan Bank offered a credit card with a built-in magnifying lens for reading "restoran" (restaurant) receipts and such.

1997 George Carlin wrote ("Brain Droppings"), "Here's something I can do without: People ahead of me on the supermarket line who are paying for an inexpensive ("bilik") item by credit card or personal check...No one should be borrowing money from a bank at 18 percent interest to buy a loaf of bread."

1997 Music aficionados can flash the Frank Sinatra MasterCard, the Jerry Garcia Private Issue Discover card or the Kiss Visa issued by First Nat'l Bank of Commerce in New Orleans.
When can we expect next? A "Matisyahu" credit card? (FYI: Matisyahu is an American Hasidic Jewish reggae musician.)

1995 Kathryn Baird contributed this tale to The Reader's Digest, in March:

I knew it had been a long time since I'd last used my credit card issued by a department store in Medford, Ore., so I asked the salesclerk to see if my card was still active.

"That's confidential information," she replied in a serious tone. We aren't allowed to give that out."

"Well," I asked, trying another approach, "What happens if I try to use my card and it's inactive?"

She brightened and said, "Oh, in that case, we'll tell you."

1997 LEON, Spain
Worshippers at a church in northern Spain who find themselves short of cash when the collection "korb" (basket) comes around, can now make donations the modern way--through a credit card.

1997 When "aktrise" (actress), Marilu Henner was asked if she believed in an afterlife, she replied, "I don't know what it is, but I do know I'm taking my credit cards with me in case there's a Gucci's."

1997 Letter to the New York Times
Metropolitan Diary:
Dear Diary:
Recently, when buying tickets at Avery Fisher Hall, I handed over a charge card to the young man behind the ticket window and continued my conversation with my two daughters.

The young man handed back the form to sign and said, "I must say, you look better in person."

Startled, I looked down at the card.
I had given him the American Kennel Club charge card, which has a photograph of a Welsh corgi in the upper corner.
Sara Reguer

1997 Metropolitan Diary, 12/10/97
Peter B. Yearley recently walked into a supermarket at Lexington and 92d Street and found a crowd of cowering shoppers. "A man with a gun is holding up the cashier," he was told.

Moments later, the store manager announced that all was clear, but that the store was closed because the cash register had been emptied.

Over the sobs of the shaken cashier, an unsympathetic voice was heard, obviously intent on buying his dinner. "But won't you accept a credit card?" he asked.

1997 A 1997 Super Bowl commercial featured former Rep. presidential nominee, Bob Dole, appearing in an ad for a credit card company. He said, "It's a nice break from working on my inaugural address."

1997 Morris "di kats" (the cat) had his own credit card, sponsored by Heinz Pet Products.

1997 The Salvation Army took money any way it could. During the Christmas season, the standard red "kesl" (kettle) was linked to a credit card reading device.

1997 Peter Luger--der "bifsteyk" (steak) house--has issued more than 67,000 customers his special house credit card.

1997 A Conn. judge awarded the wife of the chief executive of GE Capital Services half the couple's cash, stocks, and other hard assets--along with his Macy's credit card and its lifetime 45% discount. (While probably all Macy's shoppers would love to have a card with such a huge discount, most have virtually no chance of getting one. The retailer doled out the cards only to directors and some senior executives. Mr. Gary Wendt was on the Macy's board from 1986-1994, and Lorna J. Wendt obtained the benefits.)

1995 Eli Broad, a Los Angeles collector, used his little piece of plastic to buy Roy Lichtenstein's "I...I'm Sorry," a painting, for which he paid $2.5 million. By using the charge card he was entitled to 2.5 million member- ship miles on any airline that participates in American Express's program, which entitles subscribers to one mile for every dollar spent.

1994 Chase Manhattan Bank sent videos oozing with "mitegfil" (sympathy) to troubled cardholders, asking them to arrange making their payment current.

1994 Audiences at the move, "The Flintstones," got to hear Betty and Wilma say, "Charge it."

1994 Delaware based-MBNA teamed up with Paramount Pictures to launch a Star Trek MasterCard. The perks include free Star Trek fan club membership and discounts on paraphernalia. Rolling Stones and Coors Extra Gold Visa cards were launched earlier this year.

1994 Sandy Flanagan--a serial spender-- wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

I know I've blown my budget, And this is my first clue:
My charge cards all say they're "Continued on Page Two."

1994 Edgar Argo ("Funny Times") wrote:
Wife reading mail to husband:
"This little note came with our credit-card bill. It says: "Leave home without it."

1990 Students at the Simon Lake Elementary School in Milford, Conn., are using "plastik" (plastic) to charge their school "lontsh" (lunch), instead of cash.

1988 Fustuce Ringgenberg received a letter offering him a MasterCard from an Ohio bank with a $5,000 limit even though he has never had a job in his life. Janet Ringgenberg said she was flabbergasted that her cat, better known as Fred, got a preapproved invitation while she had been trying unsuccessfully to get a credit card for three years.

1987 Dave Barry ("Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex") wrote, "Credit cards are an excellent source of money. The way they work is, people you don't even know mail them to you, and then stores, for some reason, let you use them to actually BUY things. (No, I can't figure it out either!)

The thing is, you have to be responsible about how you use your credit cards. You can't just rush out and charge every single item ("altsding") in the store. Think ahead! How would you fit it all into your car?

So I strongly recommend that you be cautious with credit, following the wise Borrowng Rule of Thumb em- ployed by the federal government, which is: 'Never borrow any amount of money larger than you can comfortably pronounce.'"

1987 Russian comedian, Yakov Smirnoff ("America on Six Rubles") writes about how his parents learned English: "Actually, my parents, like a lot of people who come to the United States later in life, have some problems learning to understand and speak English The first American phrase they learned was 'What's on sale?' Unfortunately, the second phrase they learned was 'Charge it!' Somehow they never learned how to say 'Just looking.'"

1979 The largest collection of valid credit cards, as of May 1, 1979, is one of 932, all different, by Walter Cavanagh of Santa Monica, CA. The cost of acquisition was nil, and he keeps them in the world's largest wallet, 250 feet long, weighing 28 pounds, and worth more than $1,000,000 in credit.

1970 Pres. Nixon bans mass mailings of unsolicited credit cards, forcing banks to ask customers if they actually want a card before delivering one.

1969 Congress heard testimony concerning the mailing of credit cards to people long dead, including the author Bernard De Veto, who was twice solicited a dozen years after his well-publicized death in 1955.

1965 The Bank of America ran a publicity stunt in which a man lived for a month using only his BankAmericard.

1922 Filene's department store in Boston issues three-by-five-inch credit cards to its choice clientele.

1910 The Sears catalog decrees the folly ("narishkayt") of buying on credit.

Marjorie Wolfe's first credit card was from the A & S Department store in Hempstead, New York, in about 1960. She advises all of her readers not to use a credit card to scrape "ayz" (ice) off the car's windshield. It ruins the magnetic strip that protects against card (not car) theft.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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