Paid the Cost


I was recently charged one (1) dollar to borrow a DVD from a library. I’m not talking late fine, either: I’m talking cash to walk out the door with it.

O tempora! O mores!

I considered offering to paint over the “Public” on their sign outside; then I figured they might propose I instead erect a sign stating “Public” doesn’t mean “Pete’s personal means of dodging a Netflix subscription,” so I demurred.*

All this reminded me of a Planet Money podcast on why some veterans hold a grudge against the Red Cross. Seriously.

Surprised, I’d asked my daughters’ grandfather – whose wealthy uncle once paid for his trip to Southeast Asia – if it were true.

“Yeah!” he replied, “because of the donuts!”

As Planet Money explained it, folks tend to get cross if they have to pay for something generally expected to be free. For example, if your restaurant check were to include even a nominal fee – say, one (1) dollar  – to cover water or bread, you might be indignant.


As for the Red Cross, during WWII they – for not unreasonable reasons – started charging soldiers for donuts. It didn’t go over well.



*Also, having worked in a school library, I’ve got lifetime solidarity with anyone who sits behind the desk. You think about things differently there. E.g. if I became King of Libraries, I’d issue proclamations like this:



About an hour after posting this, I went to the aforementioned library to return that DVD, but the building was closed due to not having electricity. I vow to henceforth ungrudgingly pay my dollar!

Also, I’ve honestly never seriously considered becoming Czech, but if this is how they roll, I wouldn’t refuse honorary citizenship.