Thursday, November 4


I saw something the other day that made me laugh and think.  Making me laugh is not hard.  I’ll laugh at just about anything.  Making me think is harder but still not quite difficult.  But this accomplished both which is rare.  It was something I’ve seen quite often, but this time it really caught my attention.  What I saw was this:
FREE* blah blah blah
Okay so I don’t remember exactly what was free*, but that’s not the point.  What caused me to stop was that silly little asterisk after that catchy word.  I’ll admit I didn’t read the fine print of the ad.  I don’t know what the conditions were for the free stuff.  But I know there were conditions.  Why else would there be an asterisk?  If it were really free, it would be proclaimed proudly, FREE!  A small change in punctuation, a huge difference in reality.
Let’s just wonder here.  Perhaps it was a free soda.  (Yes I called it soda.  Not pop.  Not coke.  Soda.)  A restaurant can’t just give away free sodas all day.  Word would get out and people would come from miles and miles around for a free can of Pepsi.  Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but you get the point, right?  It’s not a sound business practice to give things away with no conditions.
To a consumer, free soda sounds awesome.  Perhaps this business has an excess of soda they need to dispose of quickly.  Selling it is the best idea, but how do you generate the extra customers needed quickly?  You could say half off or buy one get one or maybe reduce the price of a meal so that the soda is basically free.  But we usually go with FREE*.  It’s what we’re used to.  It grabs the most attention.
And we all know that nothing is really free.  There are always conditions.  Is that why it is so hard for me to accept grace?  I expect the strings.  It’s not really free, it’s free*.  But which is it truly?  My shames says the latter but my hope hopes the former.  If I really examine my past, both successes and failures, a part of me knows it’s free.  Unconditional.  No strings attached.  But it’s hard to convince the rest of me.

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