A letter was waiting for me on the kitchen table. My daughter had a letter from school. “What’s this?” I ask. My daughter was all smiles as she says, “I made Student of the Month.” Mrs. Accountant was not as excited as she should have been and I know why. Her bullshit meter goes off as easy as mine. I read the letter and discovered there is more than one Student of the Month. In fact, there are a lot of Students of the Month. And here is the coup de grace that set off the BS meter in Mrs. Accountant: Our daughter gets a free meal at a certain restaurant with all the other “Students” of the Month. Of course, mom and dad have to fork out an armload for their meal and mom and dad are required to attend the function if our daughter is to get her meal gratis.
Free: The one word in the English language sure to get people to look. It is used by marketers and scam artists alike with great skill. It is the most dangerous word to a responsible lifestyle and early retirement. Free is used to get people to spend money on stuff they don’t want. In the case of my daughter, it is a tool to get people to buy overpriced meals out of obligation. The best part is that the mark is not the person you have to convince. The school is all too happy to oblige. They can hand out awards at no cost while sending the worst financial message possible to the student.