What is the first thing you bought on a credit card?


In 1997, I was a couple of years out of high school and my failed attempt at college. I was working as part of the accounting team at a car dealership. It was a steady job. It paid the bills.

Every day a super shy parts driver would saunter up to the counter and deliver the daily reports from the sister dealership across town. One day, I decided to follow him down the stairs and ask him to dinner.

This guy came with a lot more than a good appetite. He came with huge scuffed silver shoes and a wallet chain dangling to his knees. He came with hair that had transformed from the soft slight ashen curls under his ball cap to stiff icicles that reached for the ceiling. His torn shirt sleeves exposed the barrage of tattoos on arms that barely saw the sun.

This was the guy that I would spend the next ten years with navigating my first journey through the music industry.

Every musician has the same issue starting out. They do not have any money. Music is not a career that is supported by many family members. Especially heavy rock music. The lack of funds and my complete enthrallment of dating a musician made me want to help in any way I could.

Months of conversations took place over late night dinners or slices of pizza off Commercial Drive where my musician boyfriend poured out his heart and shared his desire to take his band "on the road". The trouble was... they didn't have a van. "If only we had a van, then we'd make it."

My steady job had a few perks. Steady income creates that beautiful asset... good credit.

A van was found a short while later. The credit card came out and I made my first purchase on my shiny new Visa.

In that moment, I became what I still am today, twenty years later. I became a manager. I managed to guide him through from an indie musician to becoming part of an international rock band in 2000. 

That van purchase became a catalyst for the next ten years of my life.

Cathleen McMahon