Getting Screwed Without Enjoying It

Batteries are a real ripoff. Every electronic do dad in my possession has a rechargeable battery that can be run by plugging it into an outlet. Why isn’t everything like that? Why can’t you recharge your channel changer, for example? I’m sure we drop a good 200 bucks a year on batteries for that alone, since it seems to run out every three weeks or so. It’s not like anything strenuous is happening, it’s just changing the channel or adjusting the volume. Do you really need twelve batteries to pull that off, or could you get away with one dedicated mouse on a wheel?

If your house is anything like mine, any non-essential item that requires batteries ends up unused in a corner as soon as that initial charge runs out. Many toys have only been played with for a week or so, including a dinosaur that used to move its arms while its red eyes glowed.  Toothbrushes, CD players, flashlights, automatic screwdrivers, they all end up lifeless shells. The smoke detector always seems to work though, doesn’t it? Especially if you’re cooking and you forget to put the exhaust fan on, in which case it warns you very loudly that something is in the oven. Those batteries seem to last decades.  Hmm, do you think they have the technology to make batteries last longer but they’re selectively marketing them?  No, that couldn’t be, how could corporate America be so cold to its valued consumers? We’re more than just numbers on a receipt.  That funny buuny with the bass drum would never do us wrong.  Right.

Speaking of corporate greed, how about gas prices lately? Is there a crisis anywhere on the planet that the oil companies DON’T use as a reason to hike our figurative underwear up over our heads? It wasn’t enough that for eight years we were semi-legally gouged by an industry whose stockholders included the President and nearly all his cabinet members, leading to billions and billions in record-breaking revenue for themselves while the rest of the country was wallowing in a recession. Now we can basically count on the price of gas jumping 25 cents after the first nice day of spring and staying there (or going up) throughout the summer. You can set your calendar to it. I filled up my tank today for fifty-five dollars. FIFTY-FIVE! I don’t normally frequent prostitutes, but I’m fairly certain you can get at least one act of gratification for that sum. I suppose either way you’re getting screwed.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some invention that made it possible to run cars on rechargeable batteries, like my laptop? Oh, there is? But it costs roughly three times as much to buy one of those hybrid buggers you say? Hmm, so they have the technology to make cars that will allow us to shed our over-reliance on fossil fuels, but they only make them available to the upper ten percent of the country’s economy? Is there a rat to be smelled?  No, the car companies wouldn’t collude with the oil companies to ensure the majority of Americans can’t afford a safer and more eco-friendly way to drive, would they? They wouldn’t deliberately choose to slow down the adoption of a superior technology just to squeeze a few billion more out of us, right? Right.

And who made up this racket: you buy a color printer for $99 bucks and think you got a great deal. Look at all these awesome functions! This sucker copies, faxes, scans, prints photos in color and does the dishes after holiday meals. Cool beans! Then you run out of ink for the first time after about two weeks of printing. You innocently go to WalMart and match the little numbers on the cartridges. Thirty-five dollars? Each!? You mean the printer itself is worth $99 and the ink is worth $70? You mean if I bought another printer, kept the ink and sold the second printer on Ebay for thirty bucks I’d actually end up ahead of the game? Is ink made of some magic, mystical liquid speckled with flecks of gold, or is it the same crap I get in my pens that I buy 20 for three bucks. Could it possibly be that someone, somewhere at the printer company realized that without ink your printer is actually an overpriced paperweight? Do you think those nice people would purposely undervalue their printers and try to make it up by reaming you on the ink? No, that’s not possible. In this day and age when consumers are so educated, how could they baldfacedly perpetrate such a devious plan? Right.

I tried to beat them at their own game once and buy that ink kit that comes with a scary looking syringe. You were supposed to inject the ink into the empty cartridge and somehow suck the excess air out as you drew back on the syringe. Not only did it not work, I ended up with a puddle of ink at the bottom of my printer’s inner shell. Would it be incredibly paranoid of me to suggest that the printing companies secretly sell these kits under a shadow company to discourage people from ever straying from the “real” ink cartridges again? No, I’m being ridiculous, no one could possibly be that underhanded just to make a few extra billion bucks.


    • Karen Mills
    • April 6th, 2011

    My, my, my, Brian – a bit peevish today?

    Actually, we frequently hear similar comments whenever we are out chatting with our fellow suckers here in the good ole’ US of A….what exactly does that A stand for??

    • Karen Mills
    • April 6th, 2011

    Oh – and FYI – your pic of you and that other handsome man might not be the best one to have published with the title “Getting Screwed Without Enjoying It” right next to it…just sayin’

  1. There was something about watching that gas counter fly past thirty and forty and fifty dollars like it was nothing that got me in a mood…

  2. That handsome guy is Brian Regan, one of the funniest comics around today. We saw him in Poughkeepsie and he met the crowd afterward. He is hysterically funny if you see him live, which Mary El and I have done twice–for less than the price of a tankful of gas.

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