KS is a 56 year old father of five who grew up in and resides in Southern Maryland. He has worked in the credit industry for almost 15 years and is in high standing at his current credit union.

Context: This term is used the office when two or more employees are talking about a client and was collected over dinner. KS does not believe in the use of this word but hears it often.


Collector: So you have worked in the credit industry for a very long time. Is there any slang or jargon that you guys use at work?

KS: Some people might call someone who is behind on their loans a “deadbeat”. It is not a nice term to use but it gets the point across when discussing a client.

Collector: Can you explain more of your thoughts about the term?

KS. Of course. I, uh, have found that folks in higher economic standing use the term more often. I feel, think that those who have been there before take the term more offensively because they understand how it is. Folks tend to put people down without knowing their situation. You never know why someone is past due on their loans… Although our job is to hand out the loans and not do personal background checks, I still don’t find it right to talk about folks like that.

Thoughts/Analysis: This is significant because all occupations have their own jargon and the credit industry is a smaller industry that one might not find a lot of research on. Although “deadbeat” has one connotation, it also has different meanings across different folk groups, thus variation being especially prevalent. This word can be interpreted as a reflection of classism because those who have been in the position where they are late on paying their loans understand how it is to be at that point.

For variations of occupational folklore, see: Elliot Oring, 1986, Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction, Page 75