“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin Roosevelt

Whenever I felt frightened about a new venture, my mother would share her favorite quote by Franklin Roosevelt “ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. That has stayed with me through many a scary time. It made so much sense but unfortunately I think the times have created a new metaphor around fear. Essentially, we are now in the midst of a culture that seems to love to dole out fear as if it were candy for the masses.

Not a day goes by without some news that informs us that we must avoid something that might be detrimental to our well being. If you watch any of the 24 hour news channels, you’re more than likely to discover something frightening every few minutes. Even if the anchor person is discussing a subject that is somewhat tepid, you can rest assured that they’ll be a scroll underneath them reporting on a murder or a new salmonella scare. Our bodies are programmed to help us to “fight or flee” if we are under siege. This mechanism is at the ready whether it is real or imagined.

If our perceptions are such that we feel under attack many times during the day, the constant flooding of cortisol throughout our systems will eventually damage our bodies ability to keep its’ immune system intact. It will also make us anxious and or depressed. In today’s world the media seems focused on scaring the living hell out of us as a form of entertainment. This segue ways into every nook and cranny of our lives. Eating a meal with friends or family has become riddled with dialogue about whether the ingredients are healthy or harmful. One day we hear blueberries could lead us to the promised land the next we are on the road to damnation.

Children are so protected that the days of seeing them running around outdoors is becoming practically extinct. It could make the national news if someone sights a group of kids playing kickball in the streets without helmets, kneepads and an emergency medical kit close at hand. Talking to a stranger in a line at the grocery store might kill you if they have the slightest sniffle and you had better reflect on your behavior if you talk too much, flush the toilet too many times or have a need to call your mother too often. Maybe it’s time to stop feeding the piranhas of fear. Information can be useful or useless. It’s up to you to sort it out. Use it wisely and don’t become its’ slave.

Nickel and dime mentality!

I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression “I’m sick of being nickel and dimed”. Well, I have reached the end of my rope when it comes to this axiom.

The other day I attempted to get a number from directory assistance with the clone that is fast becoming the voice of America. Most often it misinterprets my requests and gives me numbers in cities I have never heard of. This must have been happening to a lot of people because the phone company has come up with a solution. If your annoyed at the robot you can press the number 1 and get a “real operator” for twenty five cents. So on top of the money it costs to access a number you have to pay additional funds to talk to a human who can understand what the robot has screwed up. You used to be able to do it for free.

If you delve into it, they’ll tell you too many people didn’t want to talk to the clone so they had to charge extra money. I suppose it would cost too much to bring the real people back so that more humans would be employed rather than robots? But this is the new wave of so called economic prudence.

The air lines is charging for just about everything, food, luggage, ear buds, pillows and blankets. There used to be a pillow and a thin blanket as a courtesy. Not any more, if you want it, you buy it. How many of us, unless we’re desperate, want a pillow, harder than a rock, and a blanket that has no potential for warmth as a remembrance of our trip?

I bought a refundable ticket for a recent trip and tried to change it. By the time I got told all the rules and the additional costs I felt as if I had just gotten off a Ferris Wheel run by a mad man. The explanations were so convoluted that I was convinced the agent had previously worked for the C.I.A.

I’m waiting for them to start charging for the pilots. We’ll soon walk onto a full airplane with an empty cockpit. They’ll ask for volunteers first and if there aren’t any takers, they’ll read off a menu of individuals with certain levels of competency and charge accordingly.

Banks now charge for all kinds of services that used to be free and I’m sure they will soon make you pay to talk to the teller. All they have to do is call them a consultant or a coach and they’ll be able to grab more cash from us. Paying your credit cards by phone is another money drain. They position it as a convenience their offering and then inform you that it will cost you ten to fifteen dollars for the service. The reason is that they have to process it.
How taxing is this process, and how many people are involved in the process? Don’t you just access the account on a computer and put in the amount with the persons’ information? How long does that take? Not fifteen dollars worth?

If I don’t pay it on time it will cost me twenty five or thirty dollars. Sure you can do it on the internet or put it in the mail and not be driven nuts. But all the above organizations used to have services that were supposed to make their customers feel they were valued.

Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate some of the “nickel and dime” mentality and return to some “soothing and supportive” ways to keep your clientele wanting to come back instead of running away.