You can imagine my excitement when I got a letter from a credit card company saying I might be eligible for a credit-line increase of up to $4,500.

The frosting on the cake was the $5 they’d give me for asking for the increase.

For that kind of money, I figured it was worth the bother.

Because it is sometimes quicker to do these things online, I started there. But in the online list of frequently asked questions there was no question, “What is it going to cost me to ask for this increase?”

So I called their number. A woman said, “Can you spell your last name for me?”

I said, “Yes, I can. Would you like me to do so?”

Same thing with the last four digits of my Social Security number. Could I give her the last four digits of my Social Security number? “Yes, I can. Would you like me to do so?”

YEARLY INCOME: PLUS OR MINUS POWERBALL?

We navigated that, and she rattled off a list of places where I might receive income. They must be listed on the application: Child support. Alimony. Social Security. Revenue from lawsuits. She chattered like a machine gun. I had no idea where so many Maine people got their money.

Then the bottom-line question: How much do you earn a year?

I laughed and gave her a guesstimate, without mentioning that a friend had given me a Powerball ticket.

You should know that my credit card is hot and smoking from use. I put everything I can on it because it doesn’t cost me anything to do so. I buy my gas with my credit card because then I don’t have to stand in line in the store while my neighbors check out with beer and potato chips. Last month my monthly statement was right up there because I finally got around to some home improvements I’d been planning since 1972.

So on my credit card statement, I look like a good candidate for a credit line increase, which is probably why they hustled me. For years I’ve paid off the balance every month and paid it online to save postage. So, yes. My record makes me look good. Of course, if I lose my job and can’t pay off the balance, they’ve got me – because then I’ll be paying 25 percent or so interest, and with a $12-a-month payment, I’ll be in hock for the next 18 years. You better believe the credit card folks lick their chops just thinking about the next recession.

But after jumping through all the hoops, they still have to think about it before they will approve me and give me my five dollars. It will probably resolve itself like the last time I remortgaged our property to get a lower rate.

NEGOTIATING WITH A MECHANICAL VOICE

I’d borrowed to get a contiguous piece to put into conservation. After I’d signed all the papers to do it, I was told that it would be 6 percent instead of the 5 percent or so I’d expected, because my income was so low that laws prevented them from giving me a better rate. You can’t turn on your TV without seeing a well-known man who is famous for not paying his bills. Even foreign banks will give him a lower rate because he tells them he has a big income. You have to take his word for this fantastic income, because you are not going to see a copy of his recent tax returns.

In spite of the extra percentage point we paid when we flipped our mortgage, my wife’s industry and frugality enabled us to pay it off several years ahead of time, and it will be a hot day in January before we increase the area of this farm again.

Yes, I know. While negotiating for that $5 bonus, I might have been conversing with a machine. We hear that machine-generated voices have been improved to the point where men have fallen in love with them.

You might even have a few friends who would like to have that machine just so they could push a button and shut it off.

How much you want to bet that the credit card folks won’t give me that $5 or the credit line increase when they see that my present credit line is just about our income for a year?

Even more likely, the credit card company will tell me that anyone with my income who applies for an increase in credit is obviously irresponsible and that they’re canceling my account.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited online at:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/ MainePrivateRadio.html