Friday, December 17, 2010


I have some issues with obligations and debt.  Most people who have debt problems have problems that they have too much debt, but I go the other way.  I HATE debt.  I hate it so much that it colours many of my other interactions in my life where I go very far out of my way to avoid ever being in debt to anyone.  This isn't just financial debt though, but also social debt.  I don't like to be in the situation where I owe anyone anything; that feeling that someone might just wander by and ask me to do something I don't want to do but feel obligated to do because I owe them is intensely uncomfortable for me.  This is even true with people I very much like and trust as just the idea that I have that debt outstanding is anathema.  I am the guy who always insists on getting separate bills and always wants to discuss terms of repayment before anything else.  This may well be all tied in with the fact that I always repay my debts; the very idea of not paying what I owe is simply unacceptable.  When my inlaws lent me money to buy my condo I paid them back on time and with interest.  We had not discussed interest beforehand and I expect they would have been perfectly content to get the principal back but I figured out the average rate of interest over the loan period in Canada and paid them the precise amount.  Doing that made absolutely sure there is no debt whatsoever since we both gained and nobody was put out.

I don't know why I am like this.  I don't recall any particular instance in my past where I was burned by being indebted to someone and my parents aren't like I am.  They don't go into debt but they don't have my paranoia of unclear contracts.  My father got into a business with his brothers without contracts and lawyers being involved and I would never do such a thing.  I trust my brother tremendously but if that situation were ever to arise for me I would absolutely insist on everything being in writing and legally bulletproof ahead of time before ever signing my name.  It is funny for me to watch people who aren't like this as I just can't fathom doing what they do.  At one point Hobo and Full Bed had a apartment together and they shared bills pretty much at random.  One person would pay for the phone at one would buy groceries and the other would pay the moving guy and they did not keep track.  Despite the fact that I would trust either of them completely to attempt to keep their end of the bargain that is not an agreement that I could live with.  I would be happy paying all the bills and collecting my due regularly or having any other absolutely equitable arrangement but just figuring 'It all equals out in the end' makes me shudder.

It isn't the money.  I have enough money that these sorts of arrangements with reasonable people would never break me, it is the principle of the thing.  I never want a small sum to cause resentment nor do I want to be bitter because someone owes me and doesn't feel obligated to pay.  Something deep in my brain is desperately concerned with these things beyond all reason and necessity and although I recognize that I cannot make it go away just by knowing.  Most people aren't like me and that can cause problems.  Many people just want somebody to pay the bill, or they want to borrow some cash here and there and they figure it all works out.  That is comfortable for them and not so much for me.  It is a struggle for me to live within that framework and try to let go of my need for certainty and equality in the pursuit of peace.  I wish everyone was more like me of course (I am not unique in that regard...) but acknowledging that they are not and trying to compromise is a uncomfortable necessity.

This actually came up yesterday in my WOW guild.  I have a ton of gems acquired by buying in bulk at ridiculous prices.  Based on past experience people expect me to bring gems to raids and supply them to anyone who wants them for free.  This I find intensely frustrating.  I know some people view it under the lens of "Sky has boatloads of money in game, so why would I pay him?" but that just makes me even more nuts because I play the money game for fun.  Having others spend my money away wrecks my money game, and this is hard to communicate because nobody else I know plays the money game the way I do.  They simply get enough to get by and stop worrying about it, so for them the situation of giving away 40 gold when they have 400,000 gold is painless but for me it is not.  Obviously I don't need the money but I despise that sense of entitlement, of inequality, of debt.  I buy things from people and I pay the going rate.  Just like anyone else I am willing to spend time to help my friends but I draw a big, thick line between money and time in WOW.  In many ways that makes absolutely no sense because money = time but it is a line I have drawn in order to make the money game fun for myself and erasing that line makes the money game no good at all.  You might wonder why exactly I would torture myself over the precise correct policy to follow in supplying my friends with gems when the amounts in question are trivial compared to my fortune.  You would be smart to wonder that, and I don't have a good answer aside from the obvious that everyone is a little bit crazy and this is my particular variety of crazy.  I have resolved to try to set aside that conundrum and simply give away gems.  I will ignore the cost and pretend it isn't there.  Now we will see if I can manage to convince the mad, debt obsessed portion of my mind to submit to the greater good.


  1. Don't be so sure your parents aren't like you in this regard. I know where you got that trait.

  2. I think this experience was actually clouded by your own viewpoint. You expected that the other person wasn't willing to pay so made expectations (I want to keep the perfect) when the other person was actually expecting to pay for them. How much of your frustration is simply due to the fact that you have this mindset that people are trying to take advantage as opposed to times where you wave it off as inconsequential?

  3. I'm not quite as hardcore about debt (I don't really mind the "I'll get this one, you get the next one" type of interaction), but I HATE paying interest on anything. I basically have the mindset that I should only owe money on things that are too expensive for me to realistically buy outright; that means house and car exclusively; and I only pay interest on one of those (the more expensive one... guess which). I have actually only ever paid interest on one thing in my life - my mortgage.

    (Wait, ... that new coat that I put on layaway doesn't count does it? But it's so hip!)

    BTW - thanks for making me look like the financially irresponsible brother for all those years... YEESH;)

  4. I think (and I could be wrong) that he wasn't expecting to pay for them but based on my grousing figured I was going to charge him. Here is the thing: I don't think people are trying to take advantage of me. What I think is that they are comfortable with arrangements where one person gets taken advantage of. They generally view exchanges in a utilitarian sense and figure that since the amounts aren't breaking anybody that the amounts don't matter. I don't view things that way and it generates internal conflict between me wanting to please everyone by viewing the exchange their way and wanting to please myself by insisting they view it my way.

    I don't think people are sitting there going "Heh, I will chisel Sky out of gems!" I do think they think "I need a gem, Sky has gems, therefore he should give me gems, particularly since the amounts they are worth are inconsequential for him." They don't view that exchange as causing problems because if they had a stupendous fortune it wouldn't cause problems for them.

    Remember too that I hate debt the other way. I regularly pay people for things they are trying to give me for free because I don't like to have that obligation exist, even if it only exists for me. I don't mind a business deal where I make out very well since there is no expectation of reciprocity there - we made a deal and it is done. It is debt, whichever way it goes, that bothers me.

    For example, some people gave me herbs to level up. They weren't interested in payment so I levelled up, put the potions in the bank and sent all the extras back. I sent Sthenno a ton of cloth and greens to level up because I fully intend to use the enchants he levelled up on my gear as I go along. These are arrangements most people find very natural but I find very stilted and awkward. I would much prefer to simply pay for everything I need and charge people for everything I supply them. I recognize that I am in the minority in this case so I make efforts to live the way other people do but it feels extremely unnatural and strange to do so. Again, I am not saying everyone else is wrong, just saying that this is how I am.

  5. @ Mom

    Well, I suspect you are a lot more like me in this way than Dad is. However, I doubt you are quite as hardcore as I am. I have never met anyone who is, to my knowledge, but it isn't exactly something that is easy to measure.

    @ Matt

    You certainly have managed to look like a spendthrift when stacked against penny pinching ole me. You make me look spectacularly bad at basketball though, so I call it even.

  6. Honestly, every time we've interacted this expansion Sky I have felt like you were trying to take advantage monetarily. From the price of truegold to borrowing high priced ore and returning it with no interest to wanting to just have my chaos orbs to wanting to keep the perfect gem after establishing a price for them. You made your fortune by finding suckers and abusing them for everything they're worth and it feels like you've been doing that to me.

    That's the way you want to play the game and that's fine. The problem then comes when you force me to not play the game the way I want to and then impose your own way as a result. I said I wanted to tank or I wanted to DPS but I didn't want to do both. So what happens on our second raid? I get forced to DPS. I then get yelled at for not having a flask, so you graciously trade me a strength one for one of my stamina ones. Only problem? The strength one costs like 200G less to make. I have to flask here for the good of the guild so clearly I have to make that trade, but you make out like a bandit. And then my gear is terrible, unenchanted, and ungemmed. Because I never intended on actually using it for anything relevant. But then here I was forced to use it, and I asked if anyone had any gems. Yes, I wanted them for free, because they were to help the guild kill a boss and were going in gear I never expected or wanted to use. When you established a price and no one else stepped up to give them away I agreed to the price. I just about snapped when you kept the perfect one. In my mind if you'd had a 5th gem on you then you just would have cut it too and given me the 4 normal ones. Sky gains 200G, Nick loses 5 strength, the guild loses a marginal amount of damage on the fight. As it was you were happy to leave me with an empty socket entirely in order to keep your 80G. And all this after pocketing the difference in flask costs not 10 minutes earlier, which is itself more than the value of the 4 raw gems.

    I value progression more than I value sticking to my guns in terms of either tanking or not getting screwed financially. It's just frustrating that not everyone feels the same way.

  7. I want to respond to this, but I think it should be handled on the guild boards rather than here. I will respond there.