My Coworker is an Idiot

Fri, Jul 22, 2011

credit, debt, rant, spending

One of my coworkers (I’ll call her Georgia) is driving me insane. I’m trying to keep my mouth shut because I only have to work with her for another week, but I don’t know if I can do it. The longer I work with her, the more it becomes apparent that she is never going to grow up.

Georgia and her husband have a ton of debt. As in $30,000 on credit cards, 2 mortgages, 2 car payments, and a bunch of medical bills because Georgia is always convincing herself she has a horrible disease. (She does. It’s called spendaholism.) At first I thought they just had too many bills but I found out the truth this week.

About a month ago, Georgia’s sister Lulu got an eviction notice from campus housing because she’s no longer a student. I’m not really sure why Lulu didn’t see this coming, but apparently she was shocked to learn that you can’t just live in an apartment on a college campus forever. Georgia decided to let Lulu move into her house, and Georgia and her husband are moving into their other house, which has been empty for the past year.

On Tuesday Georgia asked me to ride with her to Walmart to pick up some things she needed for the move. We’re walking through the store when her husband calls - Georgia says, “Yes, I’m using the Walmart card. That’s why we came here. No, I’m pretty sure there’s money left on it.” Then she proceeds to go through the store picking out a bunch of storage containers, not to store things, but to move them from one house to the other. I mean, she even picked out one to move her bedding.

“Couldn’t you just use a box or a garbage bag?” I asked.

“Ew, then my bedding might get dirty.”

“But couldn’t you wash it? What will you do with the container afterward?”

“Duh! Put it up until we move again!”

Um, okay. Wow. By the time we get to the register, we are pushing two carts containing a million storage containers, a $40 Paula Deen sauce pan (“It matches my kitchen and I really need one with this cool handle even though I have five other sauce pans!”), DVDs, towels, and a bunch of random kitchen items. Georgia’s total is over $300, and when she swipes her Walmart card, it’s declined.

So she pulls out a Target Visa. Declined. A Chase card. Declined. Her debit card. Declined. This went on for like ten minutes.

We keep removing storage containers from the total until the Walmart card will swipe. Now, I would be horribly embarrassed, but Georgia seemed to be pretty used to this. Actually I was embarrassed and it wasn’t even my stuff.

As we drove back to my car, Georgia made a comment about how her recent trip to Florida must have cost more than she thought. She giggled a little bit. And I’m sitting there with my mouth hanging open because it never occurred to me that she was using credit cards to finance a week-long vacation in which they flew to Florida, stayed in a huge condo, and shopped all week. I guess I should have known.

Yesterday Georgia wanted all of us to go to Olive Garden for lunch for her birthday. She started calling the numbers on the backs of her credit cards, only to find that she didn’t have enough available credit to use any of them. She actually asked if one of us would buy her lunch. I tried to say, nicely, “You know, you live here in town. You could just run home and grab something, and we’ll all eat the lunches we brought.” And she looked at me like I had three heads. She ended up going to Olive Garden with her husband, who must have scrounged up a different credit card.

It. Makes. My. Head. Hurt.

When I look at Georgia, I see the way I probably would have been right now if I hadn’t made some changes in my life. And I’m soooo thankful that I’m no longer that person. She is bankrupting herself to keep up some ridiculous standard of living that she thinks will bring her happiness. And honestly, she’s one of the most miserable people I know.

There’s more to life, people. Sure, she has a lot of stuff, but she has to stress herself half to death trying to pay for it all. I hope my readers are smarter than that.

28 Responses to “My Coworker is an Idiot”

  1. Katekashman says:

    I share your pain. Sometimes I just want to hit people in the head, but my manners won’t let me, and it won’t help anyway.

    I’m glad you won’t have to deal with this on a more permanent basis.

  2. Katekashman says:

    I share your pain. Sometimes I just want to hit people in the head, but my manners won’t let me, and it won’t help anyway.

    I’m glad you won’t have to deal with this on a more permanent basis.

  3. Katekashman says:

    I share your pain.  Sometimes I just want to hit people in the head, but my manners won't let me, and it won't help anyway.

    I'm glad you won't have to deal with this on a more permanent basis.

  4. Margie says:

    Oh my goodness, I couldn't be friends with her - she would give me anxiety just hanging out with her.  I just couldn't live like that!  I mean, is lunch at Olive Garden worth all that stress??  ugh!

  5. MommaStar says:

    I agree with Margie a friend or acquaintance like Georgia would put me on anxiety meds for awhile. Sure we all love to spend and have things but I try my best to pay for it in cash and if I had to use my credit because no cash was available I would re evaluate the item wanted. For you sanity sake I hope your week goes by fast and you don't have to deal with her again. 

  6. Alex | Perfecting Da says:

    Boggles the mind, but people like this exist.  It's nuts.  They probably (almost definitely) don't understand what is going on.  They must just think that the world works in a different way than you do.  Like maybe as long as cash flow can cover expenses then that's great — the banks wouldn't give the credit if they couldn't afford it right?  It's more sad than anything.

    There was a silver-spoon girl in my university class.  We all got summer jobs, working for around $35,000 per year equivalent doing things in our field.  She got a job essentially photocopying (or nothing) at her dads company for double the pay any of the rest of us got.  She thought that she was getting a low-paying summer job to get experience, but her pay was huge and her experience was junk.  She just thought getting paid $70K to sit around was totally normal.  I'm sure that's what you r friend thinks.  Banks and stores just give people cards with limits and bill them later … that's probably as far as her understanding goes.  She doesn't really think that she is spending years of future earnings on those lunches and containers.

  7. Happy Homeowner says:

    Craziness, complete and utter craziness!  I'm always amazed (and intrigued) by stories such as this…it truly does boggle the mind, as Alex has noted. 

  8. Frob23 says:

    Wow… I mean just wow.  This is mind blowing.  I know people get into debt a lot without realizing what is happening but being at the limit on all of her cards should be clue enough!

  9. Crystal @ Frugal Liv says:

    Don't be annoyed.  Take a deep breath and be relieved that it is not you.  And that you aren't related to her or married to her…  :-)

  10. Anonymous says:

    I do no think she even realizes that she has a problem!  If she did, she should do something about it.

  11. Happy Homeowner says:

    Craziness, complete and utter craziness! I’m always amazed (and intrigued) by stories such as this…it truly does boggle the mind, as Alex has noted.

  12. Just an update - so I tried to hold an intervention today. Talked to her about the stress of debt and whether bankruptcy was a possibility. She freaked out and said she'll NEVER ruin her credit with bankruptcy, that's it's for "poor people who can't afford to pay their bills." I told her that if she has to use a credit card to buy a $9 meal at Panera, she IS a poor person who can't afford to pay her bills. She isn't speaking to me.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is such a sad situation. I thought like this when I was maybe 18 or 19, but the first time I had a card declined, I smartened up. She's the sort of person who will run out of money one day and be totally amazed. BUYING CONTAINERS TO PACK HER STUFF IN? Wow. Doesn't sound like you're missing out on anything with her not talking to you.

  13. Emily says:

    Yikes!  That completely blows my mind.  

  14. JT says:

    Andrea, do you think she's had a bad influence on your spending habits?  It would seem to me that surrounding yourself with people like that are a surefire way to catch the "bug."

    • To a point, I do think I've spent more when I'm around her (and other coworkers). Mainly on lunches out. I'm pretty good at walking through stores without buying stuff now, but I'm a sucker for a break from work at a restaurant.

      In my defense, though, the only thing I bought on that trip to Walmart was a coke. :)

  15. Jeffrey Trull says:

    Wow, this story almost sounds fake to me (although I know you wouldn't be making this up). It's hard for me to even conceive of someone like that. I'm glad to at least hear this isn't someone that's a good friend of yours and that you're able to move on from her soon.

  16. Koen Phoenix says:

    I just don't get people like that. I have payed cash for everything I own, naturally cash someties means debit, but the point is that if I don't have the money for it, I don't buy it. I even have a little over a thousand in savings for emergencies. I've had a debit card declined once (because I miscalculated how much money I had in the bank) and that was embarrassing but it wasn't a huge deal because I was trying to buy a 2 or 3 dollar item so I just put it back on the shelf.
    Honestly I've never even been ABLE to get a credit card (I became old enough to get one just as the economy turned down) and nobody has given me a chance. *sad face* I just wanted to raise my credit rating so if I needed it, I could get a loan for a car or a house in the future when I know I can afford it.

    • If you're in good standing with your bank, you could start out with a secured credit card. You give them a deposit (usually about $300) and that's your credit limit at first. After 6 months or so, you can upgrade to a "regular" credit card with a higher limit and no deposit. It's a pain in the butt, but it would allow you to start building some credit. Sounds like you would have much better control of yourself than I did! Congrats on living within your means!!

  17. Catseye says:

    Yes, your co-worker WAS an idiot and I know you're grateful you don't have to put up with her anymore. As for the intervention, I'd have told you not to bother. People like you're co-worker just don't get it and probably never will.
    I never try to intervene with other people's spending. They are grown folks and they can ruin themselves if they want to. They just better not come asking me for help when that happens! ;o)


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