Down at the Money Mart
2002-02-24 15:57:35

The Corporate Fuck
In conclusion, you're all gay and I hate rock and roll.
-- Mr. Bad


It's not like I have a heroin problem, see. I'm just a self-indulgent brat who likes to live beyond her means. When I zip down to my corner Money Mart for a little cash-till-payday loan, I'm really not planning to spend it on drugs. I'll spend it on sushi. Seventy bucks of interest for a two-week $400 loan is perfectly reasonable, if you really need that hamachi.

But boy-o, the Money Mart. Every time I go there it showcases some new aspect of the human condition. Like, last time, I saw some guy score a phone number off a conversation that began with "Hey mama, what's your name?" I didn't know that line ever worked. Anyway, I forget her name, but I remember that she began nearly every sentence with the phrase "I'm a woman of God." After the silvertongued devil had left with her digits, the Woman of God started trying to explain herself to the rest of the line. "He won't last," she giggled to no one in particular. "I'm a woman of God. I don't think what I've got is what he's after." And here I am thinking no fucking shit, lady, you think just maybe this new relationship you struck up with a random gigolo in the Money Mart might not end in quite the rosiest of all possible futures? But then, who am I to argue with the guidance of the angels.

Sometimes there are panhandlers, and that kills me too. Like, who's going to be less likely to have a dollar to spare than a bunch of schmucks queuing up at the Money Mart? It probably does say something about poverty and generosity of spirit. Or else it says that rich people are scumbag motherfuckers; most things say that these days.

But the Money Mart: It's all things to all people. Just look at their websites. is all about the can-do American entrepreneurial spirit: " is a 'clicks and mortar' e-commerce business...serv[ing] the needs of consumers who are under-served by traditional banks," the page trumpets. "Check out our other sites!" And there are little pictures of the Canadian maple leaf and the Union Jack., however, would have you believe that there are in fact no other countries in the world, and that Money Mart "was founded in 1982 to provide Canadians with an alternative." It's just a respectable Canadian company, one that "encourages responsible industry business practices, and does not condone excessive fees or unreasonable business practices."

To Canadians: "Money Mart qualifies its borrowers, and does not lend more than a borrower can reasonably repay from his/her next pay cheque...Money Mart does not renew or extend the due date of an advance beyond the borrower's next payday."

To Americans: "Your balance can be extended[!] An additional fee will be deducted."

It also occurs to me that the Money Mart could probably operate very well as a criminal nation. They issue their own ID cards; they take thumbprints; they've got a system of binding arbitration to substitute for the Bill of Rights. Even their website has formidable Terms of Use. Every receipt they've given me says "We'll see you on your next visit, Jo Shannon Cochran." I think it's a thinly veiled threat.

But they're nice as pie, in person, and when they call me up at night to chat. They seem to only hire cute chicks as representatives, and they must have great customer service training, because the girls always seem so sorry when they can't give you another loan right away. "It's the system," they explain carefully, regretfully, to the one-legged vet with the shakes. "The computer denied your application. Why don't you try again tomorrow?"

"We've developed a range of unique and innovative services...for families who live from paycheck to paycheck," says the Dollar Financial Group, proud owners of the Money Mart chain, as well as the Loan Marts, the Money Shops, the Cash Centres, and the Insta-Cheques. "We base our growth on sound marketing and demographic principles — for example, strategically locating our stores in areas where the US Census Bureau projects the greatest percentage growth. This, combined with a growing anti-bank sentiment, an increasing number of single parent households, high incidence of employment interruptions, and the growth of employment in the service sector of the economy, reinforces the need for our services within the Asset Limited Income Constrained community."

Meanwhile, the Asset Limited Income Constrained community — that is, the marks — just seems to keep falling for a hard-luck story and a well used pickup line. Someday, and maybe soon, I'll kick the demon sushi habit. I'll walk away from the toro, from the sweet futomaki. And from that day on I'll never darken the door of a Money Mart again.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

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