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Thursday, May 5, 2011

that ain't free

Let me share my most recent pet peeve.  It is petty, I grant you, and probably not on anyone's radar.  Let me be clear, I wouldn't have the time to obsess about it if I felt that I could do something about the other things that bother me: greed, politics, not nice people, to name a few.

But, I've resigned myself to be powerless over those grand subjects, and I guess my focus thus becomes the smaller issues, in an attempt, perhaps, to rail against something meaningless when that which is so meaningful seems out of my grasp.

So onto the peeve:  free.

Now the meaning of the word free is where the problems lies...  By definition, free means: given without consideration of a return or a reward provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.  

You with me so far?

See, when I go to the bank, and they try to sell me some new, better package, usually one of the selling points is that, for example, the checking is "free".  Last I checked, when you make money off of my money, that ain't free.  Nor is it "free" when you require me to keep a certain amount of money in my account so that then I get the bonus of "free" checking.  That.  Is.  Not.  Free.

When I go to the store, and I'm offered a "free" gift (usually something crappy, made in China) if I spend a certain amount of money, that isn't free either.  And we can just do away with the ridiculousness of "buying one and getting the next free," because in the actual sales pitch, admittedly it isn't free, because you had to buy something in order to get the thing in the first place!

When I got married, the hotel told me that they would give us a room, the night of the wedding, "free."  But wait a minute, didn't I just spend thousands of dollars at your hotel for the wedding?  That means that the room isn't free, it's just a nice gesture.

I've now gotten into the habit of correcting people when they feed me this b.s.  I know, it's a little rude, and maybe even argumentative, but I can't help myself.  I get a small satisfaction in watching the wheels turn in their heads as they try to counter me; justifying why what they are giving me is actually free.  There has yet to be a time where my logic is disproven.

I'm not comforted by this as I'd prefer to be wrong.  But, when there's a purple cow hanging from the ceiling, it's pretty hard to pretend it's not there.

So my suggestion to all you bankers, store owners, restaurants, etc.?  Just call it what it is.  It's a charge free checking account, a 2 for 1, or a gracious gesture.

Don't make me feel like a moron, like I have to be manipulated into redefining free, or that I'm too stupid to know what free means.  I know what free means, and all of you, clearly, don't.

Oh, and by the way, this rant is brought to you free, and I won't subject you to a 2 for 1 on the topic.

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