Wednesday, November 17, 2004

quantum card

If I said that I once had a cat named Schroedinger, dressed my son as Captain Entropy for his first Halloween, and have sung in a group called the Lager Rhythms, it would probably come as no surprise that I am sometimes hard-pressed to find an appreciative audience for my conversation - particularly among customer service representatives.

I had another chance to prove this just the other day. Having charged my way through the periodic table, I apparently broke out into the realm of 20th century financial physics. The opportunity on my lap was a chance to upgrade my Platinum MasterCard to – get this – a Quantum Card.

The 1-800 number put me through to Chad, an enthusiastic, but otherwise canonical, customer service guy. Chad was not prepared for me.

“A Quantum Card? But I wasn’t finished with the elements yet! I’ve got Platinum and Titanium, but what about the Ytterbium Card? Where did my Molybdenum Card go? How about the poor, neglected Vanadium Card?”

Chad tried. “Well, ma’am, the Quantum card offers many benefits that…”

But I was on a roll. “And, really, don’t you think jumping straight to a Quantum Card is a pretty big transition? I’m not sure I have the energy for it.”

“Well, ma’am, all I need from you is your address and mother’s mai-…” He still wasn’t quite working with me.

“So, with a Quantum card, am I only allowed to spend whole dollars?”


“Or, am I restricted to very tiny purchases?”

“Well, no, like with any other credit card… Um. Wait. I don’t think I understa-…”

“Don’t worry about it, Chad. Let’s just get me all signed me up. I clearly won’t know what the benefits and restrictions are until I see the darn thing anyway.”

“Um. Ok. So, can I have your address now?”

Poor Chad.

While I’m certainly overjoyed that I’ve reached the level of financial stability where my credit rating demands a Nobel nomenclature, I’m still left pondering one of the great mysteries of modern science: What, if anything, comes after the Quantum Card?

For what it’s worth to the credit companies, I’ve come up with some ideas:

o The Heisenberg Card: Don’t give this card to your spouse. You can know where he’s spending, or how much he’s spending, but not both.

o Big Bang Card: Don’t give this card to your spouse either. Initial spending tends to be fast and furious and there’s no obvious credit limit. On the bright side, the background APR sticks around 3% regardless of inflation.

o Pauli Exclusion Card: This card will not tolerate the presence of another MasterCard in your wallet, but will coexist with Visa, Discover or American Express.

o Ideal Gas Card: If your running balance always fills your available credit limit, this is the card for you. It’s also good for Premium Unleaded.

o Zeno’s Paradox Card – This card requires advanced cash management skills, as you’ll need to pay off exactly one half of your remaining balance each month.

I suspect that cards such as the Dark Matter Card and the Black Hole Card would be too much trouble to implement, simply because they’d be too hard to find in your wallet. The Entropy Card and Brownian Motion Card would have their own problems as well, mostly in just trying to get them to swipe through the machines properly. But even so, this list is just the beginning of what I consider to be a great leap in credit card science.

So, while I’m waiting to get my Grand Unified Theory Card, I’ll stay excited about my Quantum Card. I just wish there were some out-of-work physicists they could hire to man the customer service lines. I desperately need a better audience than Chad.

(I'm looking for a nice place to send this one. Anyone got any ideas? Smithsonian "Last Page" turned it down... It seemed so *right* for them, too...)


Tabor said...

How about Science magazine--since they are now publishing more questionable science?

binkley said...

Yes, I do have date you now. It has become a categorical imperative.