Cell phones threaten art of mooching
NEITHER a borrower, nor a lender be" is the one Shakespearean phrase every Respectable Person always has at the ready, no matter how big a pain it makes them when the soda machine is blinking "exact change only."
For Digital Slobs, however, that dictum violates our Cardinal Rule of Golden Rules: Never accept any moral precept with the words "or" or "nor" in them, because they involve twice as much work.
It's a lesson most Slobs learned early. As a regular preteen visitor to my community pool, I had its posted "10 Rules" memorized. No. 1, no alcohol; No. 3, no diving; No. 7, adults only 9 to 10 a.m. (shorthand for, "Leave Old Lady Livingston alone while she's doing her mid-morning laps").
But Rule No. 10, "no profanity or running," rubbed me the wrong way -- a flagrant attempt to sneak two rules into one. Maybe they ran out of room on the poster. Maybe the Pool Committee couldn't count to eleven. Either way, I refused to play along, and mentally amended Rule 10 by replacing the "or" with "while."
So, sometimes I said bad words, and sometimes I ran, but I never did both at the same time (except once when I cut my knee on the gate).
Thus, I also feel free to edit "Hamlet" as I see fit, to "NOT a borrower WHILE a lender be." Slobs can upload, download, install and upgrade simultaneously, but we can only restrict guilt in one direction at a time -- coming or going.
Fifteen years ago, I was a lender. Once a friend asked me for $100. A day later I got $80 back, but it took six months to get the other $20. Another buddy nickel-and-dimed me until he had a $50 tab, and I finally demanded collateral. He gave me his flat-tire-fixing air compressor, and I put it in my car trunk. It's still there.
But in the 21st century, I've not only switched hats, I've borrowed the money to buy the new one. If you're on a first-name basis with me, chances are you've foolishly helped me finance at least half a dozen King Sized Snickers without demanding a credit check first.
The last birthday card I got from my brother read, "This is an attempt to collect a debt, any information you provide will be used to aid in this collection." Doesn't Hallmark even bother to rhyme anymore?
But like everything else, from a patch to stop smoking to a lock that limits our video gaming, technology is providing a quick fix for our loan-ducking afflictions, whether we want one or not.
Wired.com reports that a new service, TextPayMe.com, allows people to send money via text message. Users can create an account on the Web that links up to their credit card, and they can then relay funds through cell phones to anyone with a similar account.
Depending on your nature, soon you'll either be able to get all squared away on all debts large or small instantaneously, or you'll find yourself in desperate throes to find a new out.
Talking on a cell phone in a restaurant is already rude, but it would be even worse if you're only doing it to drain the battery to avoid picking up the tab.
Soon we may all be getting voice mails like this: "I'd pay you back right now, but I'm about to go through a tunnel. A very, very long tunnel. I should be out of it by sometime in late March."
Or leaving them. Just not both. That would be wrong.