The Orocan Incident, or Why We Always Have Credit Card Debt


This latest spending binge started innocently enough. We decided to go to Target to purchase an orocan.

“Orocan?”, you ask. “What, pray tell, is an orocan?”

That’s easy to answer. An orocan is a plastic parador.


Okay, let me explain. According to my wife, in her language, (Bisaya), a “parador” is a what we would call in God’s language, (that would be English for you non-believers!), a “chest of drawers”, or “dresser”: i.e., a piece of furniture used to store clothing. Now most legitimate furniture is made of wood, or maybe metal, but if you wanted, (or could only afford), some cheap plastic crap, then “parador” isn’t the word you would use anymore. You would call it, (the plastic dresser), an “orocan”.

At least so says my wife. A quick internet search reveals that “orocan” is a brand of plastic storage bins in the Philippines, and if you’ve ever been to Spain, you know that a parador is an upscale bed-and-breakfast type hotel usually found in a castle or other historic building. But if she says “orocan” is the Bisaya word for a plastic dresser, then who am I to argue.

But back to our story …

First off, I must admit I lied. This latest overspending incident did not really start with the impulse to purchase an orocan, but rather when, several weeks ago, I decided to cash in a small annuity to pay off our American Express credit card bill. It seemed like a good idea at the time, to start the new year off fresh, without thousands of dollars of debt nipping at our heels, but now I wonder if it was a mistake. We are supposed to only use that credit card for unavoidable expenses, such as gasoline or car repairs, but it is always a temptation to pull it out when we have the “urge to splurge” and buy some nice but not necessary goodies.

It was an easy-going Saturday morning. We had just returned from taking my wife’s car in to the dealer to get it serviced for a recall, (free, of course), and they had also offered to clean it, for free. Happy with our easy-on-the-wallet car service, we decided to go shopping at Krogers, to buy some bottled water. My wife would pay for this with some cash she had on hand.

What can I say? We found some snacks our son John enjoys for a very reasonable price, I found some interesting flavored seltzer water I could take to work, my wife found a nice cutting board to replace her worn-out one, and we grabbed three cases of regular bottled water, in addition to a bag of oranges, some miscellaneous vegetables, and various other yummy things. In no time at all we had exceeded the amount of money in my wife’s purse.

Knowing the American Express card had just received a major payment, and that our balance was low, (less than $300 USD, which is a rarity for us!), I offered to buy the groceries. The cost was a little over $100.00.

Now this is where the problem began, because I had promised my wife we would also buy an orocan. To purchase the orocan, we needed to go to a different store, Target, on the other side of town.

We went to Target, and purchased the orocan, (and some other “necessities”, of course). The orocan was big, and expensive: $52.00 USD, to be exact. Our Target expenditure, which was also applied to the American Express credit card, was almost $120.00!

Now I was beginning to become a little grumpy. My wife wanted to go to Sams Club, but I insisted that we had already spent enough, and it was time for us to go home. So we went to the car, and proceeded to put the orocan in the trunk, (“boot” to those of you outside of North America).

It didn’t fit.

My wife suggested putting it in the back seat of the car, but it didn’t fit in there either. Frustrated, I tried to jam it in the front seat, to no avail. We would have to drive home with the orocan hanging out of the trunk, the door of which would have to stay open.

So I shoved the bulky orocan into the trunk as best I could, and then my wife and I had a disagreement. She was concerned about the drawers, specifically fearing that they would fall out, as I had stupidly put the thing in with them facing down. I assured her that this would never happen, because the orocan was wedged into the trunk so tightly it wouldn’t move, and in its current position the drawers could not fall out. She begged me to take the drawers out, but I just shrugged her off. I was tired of fussing with the silly thing, and just wanted to get home.

So off we went. Did I mention that Target was located on the other side of town from where we live? Did I mention that we had to travel some bumpy roads, including a very bumpy railroad crossing?

Do I need to tell you that the top drawer of the orocan was gone once we arrived home?

My wife was already inside when I noticed the missing drawer, while taking the orocan out of the trunk. I carried it inside, told my wife that I was leaving but would be back soon, and almost made it to the car before she discovered the truth. She opened the front door, called for me to “come back here!”, and we had a quick, intense chat. I tried to calm her down by telling her I was going to look for the drawer on the side of a road somewhere, and got out of the house as quickly as I could.

Oh man! That stupid orocan! I assumed that the drawer was now smashed somewhere, and that I would probably have to drive all the way back to Target to purchase another orocan, just so we would have a unit with all its drawers. My only hope was to find it as soon as possible, and that through some miracle it wasn’t damaged.

If you are familiar with central Georgia, you may know that there is a road called Rivoli that runs for miles north of the city of Macon. It is a two lane road, and like most of the roads around here everyone zooms along it a good 10 or 15 miles above the speed limit. Everyone, that is, except for on this one stressful occasion, me.

Why, if I was in a panic to find the missing drawer, wasn’t I zooming down Rivoli like I usually do, but instead lolling along a good three or four miles UNDER the speed limit? Because I was behind a cop, that’s why! Yes indeed, just as I was about to turn onto Rivoli, a patrol car cruised along and proceeded in a most leisurely way right down the road I had to follow!

So we meandered down Rivoli, me doing my best not to tailgate the cop, and looking frantically for that missing drawer, when, just as we were about to reach the Macon city limits, there off to my left I saw a most wonderful sight! The drawer was sitting by the side of the road, and it appeared to be intact!

As quickly and carefully as I could I turned the car around, pulled over, and retrieved the wayward drawer. And, praise the Lord!, it was undamaged! I drove back home a much happier man than when I had left.

My wife was waiting for me, and I don’t know if she knew what to expect. But once I gave her the missing drawer she was a happy woman again. We hugged, and my latest stupidity was, if not completely forgiven, excused.

But I felt very, very guilty about this whole ridiculous episode, (who wouldn’t?), so I offered to take the family out to dinner. We went to a very nice local Italian restaurant, and had a delicious meal. The cost? About $50.00 USD. Which also went on the American Express credit card.

So you see how, with a little stupidity and recklessness, we just ran up another $270.00 on our credit card, whose balance is now easily above $500.00. Tomorrow it will go even higher, because we need to buy gas for both our cars.

I hate credit card debt as much as the next guy, and I agree with Dave Ramsey that “the borrower is slave to the lender”, but we just can’t seem to erradicate credit card debt permanently. Maybe credit card debt is just part of the contemporary human condition?