Archive for March 4th, 2024

Service of the Thrill of Petty Theft

Monday, March 4th, 2024

Some people can’t help themselves. They must wangle a freebee no matter what. I’m not talking about a starving person who steals an apple off a fruit cart or someone who takes advantage of opportunities to attend free concerts, museum exhibits or movies. I go for the latter with enthusiasm.

It’s the petty cheaters who drive me nuts. Someone said it’s because I’m a Virgo. If you want a comp ticket to one of my client’s events, ask for it. Don’t pretend you’re press so as to slip in free.

I’ve written previously about people who would order from a client far more fabric, decorative accessories or wallpaper than necessary for a photo shoot. It didn’t happen under my watch.

I’ve also written about restaurant patrons who complain about the food or service trying to finagle a freebie. Nervier than the scene from the movie “Victor Victoria” when Julie Andrews places a cockroach on her food to avoid paying for dinner was a woman at a restaurant in Grand Central Terminal a few years ago. Her complaints, as I wrote here at the time, escalated to “and I have cancer,” when none of her other complaints generated the response she aimed for: “We’re so sorry madame, we won’t charge you for your drinks and dinner.” She didn’t even get a discount.

Just yesterday on the Third Avenue bus at noon, three people scooted in the back door of the bus after passengers exited with no intention of walking forward to pay. Many of my New York friends complain loudly about this behavior. According to Google, the MTA loses $315 million/year from dodged tolls and subway and bus fares.

Because of such cheats the city will suffer from $15 congestion pricing fees to make up the deficit. I heard a radiologist on the news on Friday morning call this a cancer tax on her patients some of whom must come for treatment daily for over a month.  They are too sick to take public transportation, she said, and the additional fee will be hard on them.

Do scofflaws who nibble away at a company or restaurant’s profit or rob the transportation service of its fare think of the repercussions of their actions–times thousands like them? Is acing a freebie a game for them or do they think it is their right? Does petty theft escalate to bigger targets?

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