One of my latest Grumpy columns. Something has gone wrong with Blogger and it appears you can't magnify scanned versions to read them, which is very handy indeed. Especially as I've sent links to a magazine editor recently.
Anyway, here's this. Hope you enjoy.
Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose (firstname.lastname@example.org). He enjoys sangria and Mr Tiddles as much as he despises phone companies and their arrogant plans.
Lets imagine that you are on a first date and... actually it doesn't have to be a first date. By setting this on a first date I risk alienating people who are way beyond the first date scenario and they might not bother reading on, and that would be a shame because I am about to make a good point here relevant to far more people than singles on a first date.
So. Lets just say it's no special occasion (though it could well be if you're the kind of reader with a soft spot for special occasions). It's just, you know, you hanging out at a restaurant (not necessarily al la carte but it can be if you want it to be) with a couple of friends... I know – it's a beer garden at a local casually elegant pub... on a sunny Sunday afternoon. There's a DJ playing chilled tunes, couples on first dates as well as long-term relationship couples, groups of friends, a lonely guy in the corner happily reading his book, there are gays and straights and there is even wheelchair access so that this anecdote welcomes everyone.
On the table is a particularly delicious carafe of sangria. This place really knows how to make a good sangria. Good quality wine base (red or white depending on your preference), loads of tropical fruit chunks, spritz of ginger beer, subtle undertones of vanilla and cinnamon with a nice sharp cut of, oh I don't know, Cointreau? Maybe a dash of gin. It's just about the most perfect sangria there ever was.
But as lovely as the sangria is, everyone's happy just kicking back enjoying each others company, shooting the shit, laughing and thinking in the back of their minds, gee this is perfect. The DJ even drops Mr Tiddles from Sasha's Airdrawndagger which no one has heard in years but everyone agrees is exactly the right tune for this perfect afternoon.
Then the waitress comes over and starts to take the half-full carafe of delicious sangria away.
“Excuse me – we haven't finished that yet,” one of the group says. “There's still half the carafe left.”
The waitress cocks her head to the side like yes she understands and she's very sorry. “Yes, I understand and I'm very sorry, but it's time. Did you want to order another carafe?”
“It's time? What is that supposed to mean? We still have half a carafe of delicious sangria left.”
The smile of understanding has not left the waitresses face. “But we don't sell our carafes of sangria by the carafe, as such.”
“You don't sell your carafes by the carafe as such? WTF?”
“We serve our drinks by the hour. Each hour, if you haven't finished your drinks but wish to stay, you are obliged to purchase another carafe or bottle of wine or whatever. It's just policy – I wouldn't worry too much about it. Now I take it by your tone you would like to order another carafe?”
“But we'd like to finish what's left in that one first.”
“As I explained, that's just not possible. Our policy is structured on the size of the beverage. 15 minutes for glasses of wine, beer and spirits, one hour for bottles and carafes. So another carafe?”
How intolerably unacceptable would such a policy be? You wouldn't stand for it, would you. It would make you quite bloody angry, wouldn't it? And rightfully so because it would be bloody bloody bloody ridiculous.
So why are telephone companies allowed to do this? Every month we pre-purchase so many calls, texts and so much data, then when the end of the month rolls around it doesn't matter how much has not been used, we have to buy a whole month's worth again. Why does this this blatant rort exist?
Petrol companies must be shaking their fists in lament... “Why oh why didn't we think of selling petrol in weekly plans? We could force our customers to pay for a full tank each week instead of waiting for them to use up what they've already paid for... oh what fools we are.”
If someone knows of a company offering an open ended pre-paid system, please let me know, because I really hate bending over at the end of each month and letting my current company have their way with my bottom.