By J.E. McCollough Entering the private sector after military service is rarely...
Douche of the Week: The Discover Card
By Grin and Barrett
Three years ago, I wrote a story for Ranger Up called, “Keeping the Home Fires Lit.” It was an homage to my wife, and to all military spouses. Every word I wrote, I believe. There really is never enough I can say about the military spouse, they who work so hard and get so little credit. Thank you is never enough. So I can’t fully begin to describe my feelings in the aftermath of a humiliating situation my wife recently found herself in.
This is her story, in her words…..
Due to my decision to be a stay at home mom, and the smirks and raised eyebrows that decision sometimes elicits, I constantly have to remind myself of all the things that I have to offer to this world. I have been a homemaker for close to twenty years now. I’ve spent the majority of those years supporting my husband while he deployed numerous times with both the Navy and the Army, worked hard to get his MBA and to earn his commission in the Army.
My life is far from boring or mundane, we have three teenagers who keep us both busy!
I wear many hats in life:
I am an office manager when I’m shipping vehicles overseas or booking flights for my dogs to travel “pet-air.”
I am an insurance agent when I’m submitting my claims for another ruined piece of furniture.
I am a leader when I accept the role as FRG Leader for my husband’s command.
I am a decorator when I have to squeeze all of my household goods into a home that is 1000 square feet less than the last.
I am a travel agent when my family visits us abroad.
I am a USO worker when I pack and ship box upon box to my deployed husband and his Soldiers.
I am also a taxi driver, a nurse, a cook, an accountant, and an office and household manager. Society has told stay at home mothers that what they are doing is “admirable” and “worth it”. But this is something that I have struggled with for many years. Is it really worth it? I don’t receive a paycheck, I won’t get a retirement when all is said and done. When I receive my social security statements in the mail, they are blank, as if I’ve done nothing all these years. Like I wrote before, “I’m constantly having to remind myself of all I have to offer”.
As a “homemaker” I struggle with my self-worth.
I cringe when I am asked “what do you do for a living?”
Or when another woman will indicate that I have time to do “such and such” since I am “home” all day long. I ask myself, am I living to support everyone else? Their dreams? Their hopes? What am I teaching my daughter? Will she follow in my footsteps and stay at home with her children? Do I want that for her? I’m not sure, I’m torn. I know I’m not the only Mother who struggles with these feelings.
But what a blessing it is when I look at my wonderful children and the good relationship that I have with my husband. I tell myself that yes, it is all worth it and I’m so fortunate. That is why what happened to me today was so upsetting.
After receiving the latest in a string of dozens of credit card applications in the mail from Discover Card, I heard my husband’s voice in my head,
You should get a card, in your name, to build your own credit up.
So I decided I would finally give in and get one. I never imagined that I would get denied. After all, they were the ones hounding me for the last couple years and I owned my own home, two cars, have good credit, and my husband makes six figures a year.
Oh, wait a minute…my husband makes…
Therein lies the problem. When asked what my income was, I gave our household income. I was informed that my application could not include household income, but only income that I earned myself. When I stated that I was a homemaker, I was quite brusquely and mockingly informed that meant I was actually unemployed.
I stated again that I stayed at home, that my husband was the primary bread winner. He repeated, quite rudely, okay, so you’re unemployed.
His tone told me I wasn’t worth the time it took him to type in my information.
When asked if we owned or rented our home, I told him we owned it. Oh, so your husband pays for that too. His statement was simple, but packed a punch.
He then told me that he had to transfer me to another agent but when he came back on the line he was laughing. Who knows, maybe he was laughing at a joke somebody told him, but that is not how it came across to me. Was I being laughed at? Mocked?
The new agent came on the line and gave me the verdict.
Denied for one reason. I didn’t have any income of my own and they couldn’t count my husband’s income. My mind raced, my heart pounded, and I felt angry and sad at the same time. They were wrong! I’ve worked so hard all these years! Or, were they right?
Is my page empty?
Is my résumé truly a blank sheet?
I pulled myself together and politely told them to take my name off their lists and to never contact me again.
It was a blow to my self esteem, but not a knockout punch.
New federal guidelines outline what credit card companies can and cannot do in relation to giving credit, and to the standards for income that will be used in determining credit worthiness. The all-expenses-included getaway to Douchebagistan that I am offering to Discover isn’t for this reason, isn’t for the federal mandates that preclude household income from being included for my wife (though that is a totally separate issue.) It is the manner in which my wife was treated. The overall tone of worthlessness that the douchebag customer service agent served up to her. His flippant and dismissive attitude. My wife is my hero, the rock that holds the family together. Her worth can never be measured in a credit card application, can never be truly compensated or appreciated. As I once wrote, and still believe,
“But that’s what they do, those awesome spouses who batten down the hatches and weather the storm of life while we play Soldier. It’s because they keep us grounded, keep us focused on where we are, rather than where we think we need to be. It’s a perverse kind of freedom they give us, knowing the whole time what it could lead to, but giving us that little gift to return to the fight, return to our comrades, return to our own world of suck.
And when the darkness of doubt creeps in, when the little voices whisper that we need to be home, need to forget the mission, forget our friends, it’s then that we realize how important our loved ones job is. We may be holding the wolves at bay, but they hold the darkness at bay by keeping the home fires lit.”