A credit card to complement your shallow, pathetic life? This'll do nicely, sir

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Coming back from the horrors of EuroDisneyParisHellOnEarth I encountered a classic slice of travel bureaucracy. As I checked in at the Gare du Nord, an official informed me that my tickets allowed my wife and I to use the first-class lounge but that my four-year-old daughter could not go in as her ticket didn't allow it. I asked him what he expected me to do with her? Should I send her off shopping while we quaffed stale croissants and mingled with the middle-management glitterati? He said that he was sorry but that there was nothing that he could do. He didn't look sorry, but then they never do.

Coming back from the horrors of EuroDisneyParisHellOnEarth I encountered a classic slice of travel bureaucracy. As I checked in at the Gare du Nord, an official informed me that my tickets allowed my wife and I to use the first-class lounge but that my four-year-old daughter could not go in as her ticket didn't allow it. I asked him what he expected me to do with her? Should I send her off shopping while we quaffed stale croissants and mingled with the middle-management glitterati? He said that he was sorry but that there was nothing that he could do. He didn't look sorry, but then they never do.

He also informed me that because I had changed the time of my return I'd have to pay a surcharge on top of the astronomical cost of the ticket. Impotent in the face of such daylight robbery, I handed over my credit card. Everything suddenly changed. "Oh Monsieur, you 'ave a platinum American Express, show this at the door and your little one will be allowed into the lounge." I was dumbfounded. This was the first time that I had ever encountered any positive reason for having this card.

The reason I got it in the first place was pretty shallow. I was sick of going out with a particular set of friends who would ostentatiously flick their precious metal cards into the middle of the table and then look at my Switch as though someone had just let one go at the table. I decided that I needed a card that indicated my true level of debt, the sort that Rosie Millard might use. I rang American Express. The friendly man at the other end of the line asked me what sort of card I wanted.

"I want the best I can get," I replied with a hint of nonchalance as though talking about this sort of thing was a touch embarrassing. "The gold card gives you some great benefits and should be perfect for you," the man suggested helpfully. I hedged around the issue for a while, humming and haaing before asking if there was not anything "a bit better". The man told me that the gold card was great and that "the best" was a relative term dependent on my personal needs but it did allow me to get some sort of exclusive newsletter. I tried again. "Is there anything sort of ... bigger, with more... benefits?" There was a pause and then the man said that there was the platinum card but he didn't really see, from what I'd told him, that I had much need for it. I assured him that my need was very great and he proceeded to tell me about the even better newsletter I would receive. It was presumably embossed on gold leaf. This was a bit better but a couple of my targets packed platinum and I was looking for a trump card. I went for broke. "What's the very best card you do?" I asked forcefully. "As I said sir, the term best is a relative ..." I laid my cards on the table. "Look sonny, I want a card that is the equivalent of an atomic bomb. When it's placed on the restaurant table, I want fall-out." There was a long silence. "I see sir, well, in that case I believe the card you are after is the black card but we have stopped issuing these and they are reserved for very special customers." He sounded a tad embarrassed.

"Well I want one and I'm sure that 'special customer' is a relative term and I'm very special, give me one now please," I said petulantly. There was an even longer silence and then the man told me that he was sorry but I didn't qualify for a black card as there was a very specific client base and that I didn't quite fall into it... by quite a long way. I gave up and went for the platinum, but I have a cunning plan. I have bought some black marker paint and spent last night painting the platinum. Tomorrow, when it dries I'm going out to supper with it. Next time I have a candlelit tête-à-tête with Hurley there'll be new-found respect. I might even let her read my newsletter.

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