Moments of Truth

That every day we face. And being honest about it!

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Location: Monroe Twp, New Jersey, United States

TeeBee for many, Manthru for some, Sunny for a few, Myna for selected, Suresh for record. Hailing from Thrissur of Kerala and now lives (read survives) in Monroe Twp, NJ with wife and daughter.

Friday, December 23, 2005

(L)earning Points...

US is providing enough opportunities for me to learn. I have started to talk in terms of MILES, FAHRENHEIT, GALLONS and POUNDS instead of kilometers, celsius, litres and kilograms (conversion factors are not always greater than one). I drive on the right hand side of the road (yielding and stopping at times), turn the key right or clockwise to unlock, tap the switches up for light and say "How r u DOING" at every opporuntity that is presented. I have a readymade "You Too" that is in bulk stock so that I might use it (automatically) for a "Talk to You Later" also. There are too many of "Have a Nice Weekend"s that I can't spend. In restaurants or fast food counters, either I have "To Stay" or I will GO. I spend irrespective of whether it is CREDIT or DEBIT. I don't expect to see a petrol pump in US. Instead I see a lot of GAS STATIONs. There are UTILITY BILLS that I have to pay every month and my statements come electronically without a BUCK spent. Trust if I tell you that I don't have a single BILL in my valet. There are enough theft these days even though the streets are crowded with COPs.

The sticker on the electric appliance reads 110V instead of 220V and the plug points are installed such that two pins go to the top and they are not round instead rectangular in shape. On my electricity bill, I get start reading from the time previous tenant left and the MISTAKE is so obvious for the attendant to correct on my first call. If I don't, I get charged for what I did not use. A win win situation for the energy provider as there are not many who cares to call. The price tag in the textiles shop reads $3.99 in big letters and UP in small letters. I take a hat and get screwed as I do not notice the price ($12.99) on the electronic billing machine, I believe that computers cannot make mistakes, at the counter.

At the grocery shop, where the invoice only prints GROCERY against each item, I casually ask how much the packet of frozen vegetables cost and the lady says $1.99. On a second thought, before entering the price, she asks the next salesperson about the price and he says it costs only 99 cents. When I stand amused expecting more suprises, I see a lady bargaining for a free juice for the entire grocery she had bought. I rush for a sale to buy something with a RESTRICTED return policy that I don't realize in advance. Offers galore for mobile connections with JUST $35.99 per month*. What I do not read is the * sign and the conditions (of course in small letters) that state it is only for the first 3 months and with a two year contract. I wake up from the dream with a phone bill on my face that reads $75.99 including tax, surcharge, activation charge, line charge, carrier charge etc. A list of charges starting with each letter in English. Thank God, there are only twenty six.

One cent, which is 100th of a dollar, is called a penny and 5 cents will make it a nickel when ten of it is called a dime. 25 cents is a quarter and is used to park vehicles for 30 minutes. I had seen a 50cents coin recently and saved it as it is not in great circulation. With that kind of money, I can stand in the LINE to CATCH the bus or hire a CAB to reach my destination. Don't ask me whether I am SINGLE or MARRIED. There are other categories as well. SINGLE DIVORCED in case you are curious. Never use the word husband or wife. Use SPOUSE as marriages are allowed between same sex with GAY and LESBIAN unions fighting for rights. States who permitted same sex marriages are already into changing the law again to include divorce among same sex marriages.

Somebody out there is my friend or relative. At least he is my wellwisher as I can see his mails in my mail box regularly. He wants me to have a credit card that offers 0%APR (annual percentage rate, a measure of SOME of the total yearly expense). I feel so good about having somebody here in US to care for me, old BUDDIES sometimes remain OLD, and fill the application in excitement of having one more card to shine in my valet. I forget to turn the page where the charges are mentioned neatly in a table that reads membership fee, late fee, cash withdrawal fee, second year onwards APR of 18.99% etc. My alter ego comes up and laughs at me and we engage in the following conversation.

"Don't laugh at me. I am earning points that I can redeem."
"Really? How much have you earned so far?"
"A couple of thousands!"
"How much did you spend to get that many points?"
"May be 3 times of dollar amount".
"What would you get with that many points?"
"A mouth wash or most probably a roll of toilet tissue".
"Good enough! Get going and have a nice sleep!"


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