Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Cost of Rejection: Putting a Price Tag on Avoidance

How much would you wager to AVOID seeing me?

Twenty bucks? A week's salary? The limit on your credit card? The value of your life insurance policy?

Apparently, not seeing me is roughly equivalent to $7,000. This is merely an estimate, of course, based on recent data from Visa as being the typical card's maximum limit.

Why do I "commodify" myself like this? Or, better phrased, why am I trying to put a monetary value on the time spent away from me?

I wasn't seeking to quantify it. I just kinda stumbled upon it today. It's like finding your parents' portfolio open and discovering their assets without wanting to know.

I had gone out on a date recently, you might remember, and the parting was pleasant and cordial but without any promise of when things would happen next. It was fine, really, because my thoughts were on someone else, ironically, but I would have given him a second look if another date was offered.

What he didn't discover until he was long gone was that his credit card had left itself at the restaurant, sitting on a $4 beer tab which he had started after we left our table.

It would have been one thing if he could have driven right back to fetch it, but of course it was past midnight at this point, and so the place was closed. And it would have been another thing if he could have just swung back there the next day. But indeed it was a third scenario altogether; he was 60 minutes away, which would have meant 120 driving minutes.

So he settled for the fourth scenario I offered, which meant my friend Lija would pay his tab the next time she was at work, take the plastic, and deliver it to me the next day at school. Then I could hand over the goods when I saw him next, right?

When he had first met me, he asked if I'd be willing to handle a long-distance relationship, and so, was I willing to drive out to Harrisburg sometimes? This is quite a sizable question to ask a girl when you've only just met her, but I responded with warmth and honesty because of course I would travel out there to see him if my heart grew in love for him. But, of course, all of this was just speculatory banter. Like the state of Florida in the year 2000, it was too close to call.

But this was my second time around him, remember, and so by this point perhaps he had formed a final judgement on me. It all boiled down to this question, essentially: should he make plans to see me and thus make secure this liability or should he intentionally lose that card altogether, risking the potential of a $7,000 balance for the prospects of avoiding me? Canceling the card was out of the question, he had explained earlier, because he had done that before and had run into a terrible mess.

He had even zipped through this town on his way to Philadelphia on Thanksgiving, with no consequence or feeling toward the thing which had resided so intimately near his posterior (or, at least, that is what I suppose, since most guys carry their wallets on the rump).

I got an email response from him today, explaining that I could do whatever I wanted with the plastic and that he wasn't going to come get it. Wow. I never expected a shopping spree to be the consolation prize!