October 2002-- Free gift issue


Yepper! Free** gift at the end of this e-pistle.

Recently I was in attendance at a children's birthday party. (The invitation was for my children, OK? I just drove them over and hung out with the dads, wiseguy!) One of the kids (not mine) was sorely disappointed because the host did not give out a 'goodie bag' to the guests as they were leaving.

This got me thinking about 'free gifts'. Our American society is loaded with giveaways and 'free gifts'. For a while, you couldn't open a savings account at the bank without having some miniature AM/FM radio thrust at you. (It had all the audio quality of a kazoo band, but that is beside the point-- it was 'free'.) Nowadays every nearly indigestible kids meal purchased from any fast food chain comes with its own choking hazard at no additional charge. In every mall there is a kiosk manned by some shill handing out sport bottles and cheap gold pen sets in trade for filling out credit card applications. Last year I attended a
Microsoft seminar with a 'prize closet' where they gave some lucky attendees free copies of Microsoft Office software. (beta copies, of course.) We middle-agers all score some top grade sample meds whenever we visit the doctor's office. (Isn't that how dope peddlers get their new customers?) Test drive a Lexus and get a free dinner at some swanky restaurant --- with the car salesman --AAAAUUUGGGHHH!

Trade shows are worse. Every time I attend one, I can't walk ten feet without some marketing maniac stabbing me with a free letter opener, ruler, sticky note/calendar/pencil sharpener/paper clip holder/busy box with the company name/logo printed on it. If I attend only one trade show a year, I will never have to buy another clock, solar calculator, keychain flashlight or 6ft tape measure for the rest of my life. Want to win a free digital camera/palm pilot/pocket fileserver? Just drop your business card in the bowl, or fill out a prize form. All you are guaranteed to win is a high pressure sales call from some eager sales representative that smells your fresh blood. By the way, everything now is 'digital'. Digital camers,
digital clocks, digital MP3 music players. Marketing people know that adding the word 'digital' to any free gift makes it sound more impressive and thus more desirable (except for prostate exams.)
          Last week I got a digital transmitter for a remote-control car in the mail. If I visit a certain vendors' booth at a trade show next week, and I sit through some wacky sales propaganda, they will present me with the toy car that goes with the transmitter that they already gave me. I can see problems with this arrangement already. How can I be certain that the transmitter they gave me will work with the car I am supposedly going to get-- if I don't bring the transmitter to the show-- bringing it with me through the post 9/11 security checkpoints at the convention center. (Try to make a black handheld box with switches, levers and an antenna (carried alone) NOT look like a bomb detonator.) Even if I were able to get
past the blue suits at the door, how do I know that my little transmitter box won't interfere with some other vendor's equipment or sales presentation? We could really mess things up. What could happen to say-- some guy down the aisle with an electronic pacemaker in his chest-- if we all switched on our little cars at once? He might just clutch at his heart and start dancing the charlston. I don't think I could live with myself if I found out that my little 'freebee' caused some retirement-aged sales rep to have an involuntarily 'break-dancing' seizure. Those impudent young sales guys on the other hand.... DON'T GO THERE!
      The point is that everybody expects a free gift. From the kid at the birthday party to game show contestants-- that's what they want -- parting gifts. To shamefully misquote Shakespeare-- " Alas, Parting is such sweet sorrow--- BUT NOW YOU CAN HAVE YOUR CHOICE OF FREE GIFTS FROM THE *BIG PRIZE VAULT* THAT TRICIA OUR *BIG PRIZE LADY* IS STANDING RIGHT NEXT

         What's your free gift! Just forward this e-mail to 10 of your closest friends, then close your eyes and bash yourself ten times in the forehead with a paperweight or your desk stapler.## You will see glorious bright lights (and possibly also receive a life threatening concussion injury). And then over the next few days, you will get 9 e-mails from former friends who will tell you never to send them stupid e-mail ever again.

Moral: A free gift is worth what you paid for it (or less).

**subject to interpretation

## If you really did this, you were probably already brain-damaged before you picked up the blunt instrument.