These days, the only thing harder than making money is hanging onto it. Easier to protect dandelion fuzz in a tornado. Everywhere you go, everyone wants a taste. Their only job is to get a grip on your money. And some of these folks are pretty darn good at their jobs.
Solicitations. Donations. Hand-outs. Charges. Taxes. Commissions. Percentages. Invoices. Expenses. Billings. Licenses. Permits. Compensatory Remunerations. Honorariums. Balance due. Ante ups. Shipping fees. Handling fees. Entrance fees. Exit fees. The way we're getting nickel and dimed from every angle is like being nibbled to death by ducks.
You know that phrase: "The best things in life are free." Popularized by rich people to keep the rest of us from getting too curious. Besides, nothing's free anymore. Fast food condiments cost extra. Bags at stores are no longer gratis. Gas stations charge for air and water -- setting an ominous precedent.
Banks used to reward people for handling their money, not anymore. Now customers pay for everything. There's a charge for using a teller. There's a charge for not using a teller. There's a charge for telling the teller where to stick the charge.
Airlines have figured out how to make money off of food, blankets, legroom, checked bags, aisle seats, in-flight entertainment and it's only a matter of time before the bathrooms, seat belts and oxygen masks require prepaid activation codes. "Oxygenated air or non-oxygenated air?"
TV and radio used to be free. Now all the premium content is on cable or satellite. Then after purchasing comes the maintenance fees. Upgrade fees. Squeeze you like a turnip fees. Convenience fees. For whose convenience are these fees? Not mine.
Microsoft and Adobe have moved to a subscription model. Netflix is 10 bucks a month. Third world orphan rescues cost 10 bucks a month. Dating services, cheap gyms, music apps- 10 bucks a month. Everybody wants 10 bucks a month. You know what: ten bucks here, ten bucks there. That stuff adds up. We've moved beyond nickel and dimed to death: this is more like sawbucked to death.
There's a free trial period, but we need your credit card number for processing. And the expiration date. And the super secret code on the back. And your social security number. And your PIN number. And how many moles on your upper right thigh? And what time of the day is best for our Nigerian prince to contact you?
And yes, you're right. This column is written every generation. Our parents lamented the passing of full service gas stations. Our kids will probably bemoan the loss of free water in public rest rooms. "Used to be, you could let the water run right down the drain until it got to be the exact temperature you desired. No, I'm serious."
Even when you do buy something, you're immediately harassed into acquiring other useless stuff, no matter the location. Commercials at the checkout counter, gas station pump, in elevators, cabs, movies, ballgames. Ceiling screens at the dentist are next.
Eventually our refrigerators will be sponsored and make suggestions. Until finally people are convinced to sell naming rights to their children. "Did you hear? Clear Channel Schultz is going out with Enron Nelson. It's a match made in heaven. And Texas." Speaking of which, might as well prepare, there will be Geico commercials in Hell.
Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com to find about more about his new CD, "Elect to Laugh" and calendar of personal appearances and 3stillstanding.com for info on the documentary film in which he's an integral piece.