How to catch an elephant

Loans are made to destroy friendships

Sunday 11/11/12 - Ellie Von Bun


I can't stand loans. I don't want to owe anything to my friends and I hate having a student loan. I'm also really skeptic when someone offers me something, presumably free.

Why I am such a sissy pants when it comes to friends and loans goes back to the time when in Finland instead of euros we had marks. I'd say that one euro is approx 6 marks, so 20 euros is close to 120 marks and so on. Of course nowadays 20e is not that big a deal, but back then, 100mk was a whole lot of whopping money (especially for a kid).

I was about 10 years old and I had an awesome friend, Mary. I didn't have a lot of money, I got 5mk a week or less and it went straight to paying back candy money I've loaned from my friends.

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Now don't judge me, I was young and I absolutely loved sweets and goodies! So after school when my friends and I went to a candy shop nearby, how could I just stand and watch my friends buying and eating all the sweets and have nothing for myself? My friends always gave me like 10mk to buy for myself even though I said I didn't get more than the 5mk once a week.

I was always horribly in debt to my friends and overly stressed in my young candy loving mind.

Actually I was also in debt to my sisters all the time. My friends said that I never did have money because we bought a lot of games with my siblings, which isn't entirely untrue. I just "paid" by growing my loans, therefore not having any money to the other piles of money I already didn't have. I never understood where my friends got their money, as they always had it and I never did.

One day I promised to accompany my friend Mary as she wanted to go to a shopping-spree. Her mom had gave her 300mk and said that she could use it as she wanted, as long as she'd get the things she was in need for.

That horrible day which would forever haunt my little mind, Mary had a lot of little things she needed and we went to a few shops to get her stuff you don't actually need. We were all over the place and found all kinds of beautiful crap, everything from picture frames to baskets shaped like a duck.

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I was a bit sad as I couldn't buy that crap for myself so Mary told me that it wasn't a big deal, she could pay for me. My little mind went static and I asked her over and over again that did she really mean that, as it's her money and I could never just use her money like that. She said "Don't you worry, I can pay for your purchases too. I have money and you don't so I should pay!".

With a new exciting twist we went completely berserk and just crabbed all kinds of stupid stuff (stupider than a duck basket) and yes, she paid it all.

Later when I went home, my parents worriedly wondered about the crap I had with me and I explained happily that we had just shopped a bit with Mary. Naturally they asked about with what money I had actually paid everything and I assured that Mary insisted on paying, so everything was okay.

After a loooong conversation my parents accepted that and resumed their life when I was about to ruin my own.

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Next day at school I met Mary and we had a laugh how stupid we were yesterday and that we indeed spent a lot of money. Her next words sent me straight to my better place in my head.

Mary: "Haha, yeah, I know, quite crazy. Anyway, I calculated our purchases and you owe me 120mk."

Honestly I thought she was kidding and replied "Oh wow, that's a lot of money!" with a sudden fear creeping in my heart.

Mary: "Yeah, it is, but don't worry, you don't have to pay me immediately, just whenever you can!"

Then I realized she was dead serious and I had screwed up a big time. Time stopped moving, my heart skipped a beat and I was on a verge of sinking into a psychosis of my own misery.

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After what felt like an hour the time resumed moving and I got a grip of myself and managed to act like I was going to pay really soon and she hadn't anything to worry.

It was amazing how I could function at all with that amount of stress my young life had to go through. I calculated very carefully how many weeks I'd have to save from my weekly pocket money which I may or may not have to gather the whole 120mk. Not only that, but all the others were expecting their money also, but it wasn't anything compared to the current screw up.

My little mind realized that I would have to save for the next 5 to 6 months just to pay back for Mary. So I ended up losing my sleep and my waking hours was used to figuring out a solution for my problem and stressing over how I was probably going to die.

Any smart kid would have gone to their parents and told them the whole story, but I was a different sort of kid. Even then I preferred solving my own problems and not telling anybody anything too big about my life. So I told no one, not my parents, nor siblings nor any friend. I was a mess, but I had decided to make it through.

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Of course I failed the saving process the very next week, again to candy and other debt which payment someone was expecting.

Then again, who 10-year-old have the self-discipline to save all the money they got for half a year anyway, especially a little unpredictable squirrel like myself?

So my option about saving was out.

I had only one reasonable solution.

I denied it all.

For the next year or so Mary kept constantly asking for her money back and I always had the same answer, that I didn't have any at the moment. I eased my guilt with the fact that it in theory was true.

After a few months she dropped the debt to even 100mk and I was relieved. Mary started to get annoyed by my actions and our friendship started to lose it's shiny edge.

After over half a year she said that 50mk would do just fine and I really decided to pay her that. Mary started to get desperate as her mom had indeed got mad for spending all that money on a one trip for stupid crap.

In the end right before she moved to the other side of the country she begged for at least 15mk. As a trustworthy and clever person I am, I gallantly stole the 15mk from my parents and paid her the debt fully. I was satisfied, she was not.

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She later sent me a letter and wanted to keep contact as pen pals. I couldn't keep a person that had so much evidence about my criminal past in my life so I never answered her.

And that is why I don't like anyone offering me stuff or loans.

Keywords: loans, youth


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