The View From Here: A Somewhat Surly Glance At Air, Water, and Changing Times
By Ken DeLaat
I recently had need for a little air in one of my tires so stopped at a C-store/gas seller to see about topping off. Last time I checked it was either free or a quarter at most places.
Pulling up to the side of the store I saw the sign.
Led by principle and a tendency toward being thrifty, not ‘cheap’ as my friend Tim (who says he’s not my friend but really is) says, I left and went to another.
And another and another and another before...
...realizing it was the same everywhere I went.
Of course according to the machines supplying said air, a percentage goes to some worthy cause but my hunch is it’s not even close to the buck fifty.
Granted it has been some time since I needed air particularly the hot variety according to some of our readers, but at the risk of sounding as curmudgeonly as I likely am guilty of being, this seems a bit, I don’t know, too much maybe?
We live in an age of add ons. Some opportunistic little buggers out there began the trend that now sweeps across the land creating a culture of pocket picking unprecedented in my moderately substantial number of years on the planet.
Everything has become ala carte. Anything can have an ‘up charge’ from rainy weather to high volume time to minor requests for any modification whatsoever each justified in the most ludicrous manner and all to squeeze a bit more cash out of consumers.
Return an item because it doesn’t fit or turns out to be wrong in some way?
‘Would you like some onions on those hash browns?’ you’re asked without being told (it’s in the menu in fine print of course) there is an additional fee for said onions.
And try flying these days. With the escalation of baggage fees carry-ons began to resemble steamer trunks until those too became more regulated and in some cases required fees. Soon a question to a flight attendant will be reflected on the ‘modified’ bill on your card.
But back to air.
Being 6+ decades removed from my introduction to Earth I can reminisce about the days of yore when air was not only free but delivered to your tires by an attendant working at the gas station who also checked your oil and cleaned your windshield as he was pumping your gas. Sometimes he would even know a bit about not only cars and such but things like directions if asked, both areas most present day counter folks at the convenience-stores-that-oh-by-the-way-also sell-gas, seem mystified by.
And don’t get me started on water.
We pay for water and now we will always pay for water. To me it began when Perrier brought its mineral water in cute and stylishly funky looking bottles to our shores and made it seem like something discriminating people would order with a meal or as an alternative to a cocktail perhaps. It was chic and French and all so it got a little foothold here.
Then around the early to mid 80’s or so Pepsi and Coke got wind of this and fully knowing the gullible susceptibility of their customer base brought out Aquafina and Dasani and pushed them forward with their unlimited monies for marketing and the runaway train of water as a commodity to be packaged and sold went into warp speed.
Soon not only did water rival beer and pop sales it even began surpassing them. People were actually buying water. Believing somehow that water from a faucet was inferior. Because it wasn’t ‘purified’. Or from a ‘special’ spring only to find out in many cases the ‘special’ spring was just a different tap.
Little wonder that so much of politics is determined by how much money a candidate can raise for campaign marketing since nothing spells a population duped by marketing like the burgeoning sale of water.
After all here’s a product that was always free once you had a well , and not only free but conveniently delivered to your home via faucets and marketing effectively convinced people that it was a better idea to buy it.
And buy it in plastic bottles that gorge landfills and are found everywhere on land and in waterways no less because, of course, there’s no deposit on water bottles. Even though the argument for a deposit on pop and beer containers was to help the environment, the money spent on keeping the deposit off of water bottles is way way more than the political capital to be gained by helping the environment these days.
And granted in situations such as Flint or someone with a questionable well, intervention is needed whether it be in purifiers or bringing it in by jugs but the vast majority is purchased because...well... because the idea was sold to us.
Impressive to say the least.
So my concern about $1.50 air?
How long before someone finds a way to corner the oxygen market and have us pay for ‘purified air’ a much healthier source than that plain old everyday air you’re breathing now?
But if you ever really sit and think about it?
So is buying water by the bottle
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