Economists would have you believe that they can tell when an economy is hurting by looking at important indicators like unemployment, inflation and GDP. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need all of that. All you have to use is my patented Creative Excuses Coefficient Meter (TM).

When I’m not writing this column, you see, I run a business. One of the joys of self-employment is discovering — and I know you’ll find this as shocking as I did at first — that sometimes people don’t pay their bills on time. This means that occasionally, I have to morph, just like Jekyll and Hyde, from Thoughtful Funny Columnist to Big Mean Bill Collector.

I don’t like being called a BMBC. And I certainly don’t like the other names I’m called when I have to be a BMBC. But it has allowed me to determine that, the worse the economy, the more creative the excuses are for why someone hasn’t paid their bill. Just in case you have collection agencies at your door (and if you DO, make sure you pay me first!), here are some of the best I’ve heard so far:

Rubber Czech: “Oh, three hundred and fifty dollars? I thought you charged in koruny, so I figured my last payment covered everything.”

Proof Positive: “I’ve only received four invoices, six overdue statements, and three warnings. Please provide proof of my debt.”

Currency, Schmurrency: “I bought this when there were still German Deutschemarks around, and since the European Union eliminated that currency, I didn’t think I had to pay any more.”

Dissed and Dismissed: “Oh, my secretary placed that order, using my name and my information, and the work I wanted done. I’ve since fired her and don’t know where she is. You’ll have to get the money from her.”

Sure, I’m Sure: “I paid that. I don’t keep any receipts though. You’ll just have to take my word for it.”

Hacked Off: “I don’t owe you anything. You stole all my personal information off my computer, and this is all a lie.”

Hold The Phone: “Why are you calling me? Is this something for a reality TV show? Am I on one of those hidden cameras?”

Memories, Oh Sweet Memories: “Oh yeah, I think that’s because I didn’t like the work you did, but I didn’t remember to complain about it, and then forgot to pay too.”

What A Rush: “Yes, I ordered the rush service, but decided afterward that I didn’t need it that fast, so that’s why I only paid half my bill.”

Curses, Foiled Again: “What &^%@^!! bill? I don’t know nothing about any &^!!@^!! bill! Get the @#$%^&! outta here!” [Okay so this one isn’t creative. But it is really, really common.]

Win Some, Lose Some: “Right, yeah, um, I lost what it was that I bought from you, so didn’t think I still owed you the money.”

Sign Here: “The person who’s authorized to sign cheques around here was, uh, shot last night. We don’t know how long it will be before he recovers.”

This Costs Money?: “I’m sorry, I thought this was a free trial sample. Yes, I know I ordered six different times.”

This Costs Money II?: “I thought everything on the Internet was free?”

Divine Intervention: “I’m waiting for a sign from God as to whether I should pay you.”

Vital Signs: “You know what? I got really sick last week and I’m still contagious so I don’t want to send you anything, especially, you know, if I have to lick an envelope or something.”

So folks, if you ever want to know how the economy is going, never mind looking at the Dow Jones Average and don’t bother consulting your broker. Just call me. Especially if you owe me money.

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