Just because it's free doesn't mean it's free
by James Snyder
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Whenever somebody mentions the word "free" in my presence my right eye turns a vivid jaundice. It is not that I have anything against the word free; just the person who is trying to use it to gain some kind of an advantage over me. I know anybody employing this mono-verbiage, is hiding some very long strings.
My father taught me a long time ago that there are no free lunches. Occasionally somebody will advertise a free lunch and I go and find out the lunch is free but they are going to charge you to get out of that restaurant. In the end, it would have been cheaper to buy my own lunch.
My philosophy is simply this; if I cannot afford it, I do not want it. In my vast experience down through the years, I have discovered that I cannot afford free. And I think I know why. My understanding of the word "free" and the person employing that word is not the same.
When I use the word "free," I am insinuating that there is absolutely no cost associated with this product whatsoever.
When others use the word "free," they often are insinuating that I am just a free market for them to take advantage of in the neighborhood of my money. Unfortunately, I do not live in that neighborhood anymore.
I especially do not accept any "free offers" via the telephone. If someone has something to give me for nothing, let him come to my door, hand it to me, shake my hand and get out of Dodge. To me, that's what free is all about.
Just the other day I received one of those telephone calls. I must confess that I was in a rather curmudgeon attitude and was just looking around for someone on which to spit my scorn.
Then the telephone rang.
When I answered the phone, it turned out to be someone offering me, absolutely free, with no cost to me absolutely, a free crime prevention program for my blessed domicile.
"No thank you, sir," I said as politely as I could. "I'm not really interested."
I assure you I have no PhD or DD attached to my name whatsoever and yet as simple as I am, I understood what the phrase "I'm not really interested" was all about. Not so my affable telephone caller.
"But I assure you, sir, that this program is absolutely free to you. It's our way to say thank you to some of our customers." He rattled on as though we were having only a one-way conversation. If this is going to be a one-way conversation, who will take up the offering? I think I know.
After five long minutes of him telling me how important it was for me to have security in my home and how his product was absolutely free to me, I finally got a word in edgewise.
"But I have my own security system, thank you."
There is a slight pause and then he said, "What is your home security system, if I may ask?"
All right. I will confess right now that I had a wee bit of naughtiness on my mind, but in my own defense the telephone caller opened the door. I always believe where there is an open door somebody ought to step in.
"My home security system is called, Napoleon-two-Claws, and furthermore I'm quite satisfied with it."
There was another pause on the other end of the phone and I heard someone clear their throat and then ask, "I've never heard of that program. What is ‘Napoleon-two-Claws’?"
You know what it is like when you are trying not to laugh and it is about all you can do not to laugh? For a brief moment, I felt a little bit guilty but then I remembered who was on the other end of the phone. Somebody that was trying to con me with some kind of free thingamajig.
"The ‘Napoleon-two-Claws’ home security program that I have in my house is my cat. I call him Napoleon because he walks around with his right paw stuck in his coat between two buttons."
There was an extended pause on the other end of the phone and finally he said, "What would you do, sir, if someone broke into your house?"
"I'd send flowers to the funeral."
"The funeral? Who's funeral?"
"Why, the funeral of the guy who tried to break into my house while ‘Napoleon-two-Claws’ was on duty. The first moment an intruder would enter into my home, good old Napoleon would claw that sorry person to death."
Then feeling good about my momentum at this point I continued, "I live there and I have a hard time getting in my house without being clawed to death by Napoleon. And I feed the cat. My cat is the meanest, grumpiest, cantankerous animal on God's green earth. If anybody, and I mean anybody, can get past Napoleon they can have anything in my house. Absolutely free."
At that moment, I heard a distinctive "click" and I realized our conversation was over. I guess whatever he had that was free did not measure up to good old ‘Napoleon-two-Claws’.
The only one I trust to give me something is God. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
What Jesus gives is absolutely free.
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