SUMMARY: Oh, the lengths a father must go to in order to protect his sons. . . .
Episodes referred to: A Hot Day for a Hanging; The Crucible; Twilight Town; False Witness; The Gamble
Rating: K Word count: 1,100
High Finance (Or, How to Keep Your Mutton-Headed Sons From Getting Robbed)
BEN: Hello? Is this the Very First Credit Card Company of Nevada Territory?
OPERATOR: Yes, sir. How may I connect your call?
BEN: I’d like to open a credit card account, please.
OPERATOR: One moment, please.
CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE: Good afternoon, this is Kimberly. How may I assist you?
BEN: I’d like to open a credit card account.
KIMBERLY: Certainly, sir. How large a line of credit would you like?
BEN: Well, it’s not for me. It’s for my customers.
KIMBERLY: You’d like to open a credit card account for each of your customers? You want them all to have cards in your name? You’re a very generous man!
BEN: No, no, no! I’d like to be able to accept credit cards in my business.
KIMBERLY: Oh, that’s different.
KIMBERLY: But if you gave them all credit cards, you’d probably increase your sales.
BEN: That may be so, but just the same, I don’t think I’m going to do that today.
KIMBERLY: You might want to think about it as a holiday gift.
BEN: We’ll talk then. May I please speak to someone about setting up a credit card account?
KIMBERLY: I’ll have to transfer you to our commercial credit department. One moment, please.
COMMERCIAL CREDIT DEPARTMENT: Good afternoon, this is Felicia. How may I assist you?
BEN: I’d like to open a credit card account so that I can accept credit cards in my business.
FELICIA: And what business is that, sir?
BEN: I sell beef cattle.
FELICIA: You sell beef? Uh, sir, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but most supermarkets already take credit cards. What is the largest city near you?
BEN: Virginia City. But—
FELICIA: Well, sir, the Virginia City Stop & Shop takes MasterCard, Visa and Discover. So does the Virginia City Publix, the Virginia City Shop-Rite, and the Virginia City Winn-Dixie. And the Virginia City Big Y also takes American Express. They’re very progressive.
BEN: I sell beef cattle. You know—I sell the beef before it’s—well, beef. And I sell timber.
FELICIA: You sell cows and trees?
BEN: Well . . . yes.
FELICIA: And you want your customers to be able to pay for them with credit cards.
FELICIA: Sir, you do understand that there’s a charge of 3% per transaction each time you accept a credit card?
BEN: (heavily) I understand.
FELICIA: So, unless you raise your prices, you’re going to lose money by doing this.
BEN: Yes, I know.
FELICIA: And you also understand that—sir, may I be blunt here?
BEN: Go ahead.
FELICIA: Sir, we’re the Very First Credit Card Company of Nevada Territory, and we’ve only been in business for about two weeks.
BEN: What are you saying?
FELICIA: Well, sir, right now, nobody in Nevada Territory actually has a credit card.
BEN: We can change that.
FELICIA: They don’t even have debit cards, just in case you were thinking about going that way instead.
BEN: I don’t care. Just do it.
FELICIA: Or Apple Pay, or PayPal. Any of those things.
BEN: Would you just set up the account!
FELICIA: Sir, with all due respect—why are you so eager to set up a credit card account?
BEN: Miss, my name is Cartwright. Ben Cartwright.
FELICIA: Cartwright, Cartwright—wait a minute. Are you related to Hoss Cartwright?
BEN: He’s my son.
FELICIA: Didn’t he almost get hanged in Dutchman’s Flats when he had a whole lot of cash and people thought he was a bank robber?
BEN: That’s right.
FELICIA: And are you also related to Adam Cartwright?
BEN: He’s my son, too
FELICIA: Didn’t he get robbed after he left Eastgate carrying several thousand dollars?
FELICIA: Tell me you’re not also related to Little Joe Cartwright.
BEN: He’s mine, too.
FELICIA: The one who got himself involved in a robbery and murder in Sanddust?
BEN: That’s the one. And he got shot there, too.
FELICIA: And didn’t he also get robbed when he was carrying two thousand dollars and he was outside of that old ghost town—Martinville, wasn’t it?
BEN: That’s Joe.
FELICIA: Well, sir, I certainly understand why you’d like to get your customers using credit cards. If they were my sons, I certainly wouldn’t want them carrying cash around. In fact, we can probably arrange for an account so that they’ll have cards of their own and they’ll never have to use cash again.
BEN: It’s something to think about.
FELICIA: Sir, meaning no disrespect, but—your sons are kind of—well, knuckleheads when it comes to money, aren’t they?
BEN: Frankly, I think of them as “dunderheads,” but I suppose your term applies, too. Now, if we can just get on with—
FELICIA: Wait a minute—didn’t your whole family run into a problem in Alkaline when you were carrying thirty thousand dollars in cash?
BEN: We don’t really need to talk about—
FELICIA: In fact, you were with your sons that time, weren’t you?
BEN: Miss, if we could just get on with—
FELICIA: You almost got hanged for murdering a bank clerk, didn’t you?
BEN: Miss, if we could just focus—
FELICIA: Mr. Cartwright, don’t you worry about a thing. We’ll get your account set up today. In fact, I’m going to expedite it myself.
BEN: Why, thank you—
FELICIA: Believe me, Mr. Cartwright—if there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that neither you or your sons should ever, ever carry large sums of cash.
BEN: Well, I don’t think it’s quite that bad—
FELICIA: Oh, it is, Mr. Cartwright, but don’t you worry. From here on in, everybody who buys trees and cows from you will have to use a credit card. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to transfer you to our marketing department.
BEN: Your marketing department?
FELICIA: Yes. We need a list of all your customers. We’re going to start bombarding them with credit card applications until every single one of them has at least three cards in his wallet and your sons will never, ever have to carry so much as a fifty-cent piece ever again!
BEN: In that case—transfer me, Felicia!
Editor’s note: Unfortunately, the concept of using credit cards to purchase cows and trees never quite caught on in Nevada Territory, and the Cartwrights continued to tool around the countryside, carrying large sums of cash and announcing this fact to every lawless scoundrel they met, thus affording the rest of us many hours of viewing pleasure.
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