Rick's List - The Modern Social Contract edition

Recently, buying my wife a birthday present, the check-out interrogation by the sales clerk wasn't all that much fun — and not just because she had a voice that reminded me of someone stepping on a turkey. It was because the experience is now like EVERY business interaction:

1. "Do you have one of our Clothes Wizard Star-Spangled Member Cards?"

2. "Would you like one? A one-time fee of $25 means you get 20 percent off all merchandise for a year. Unless there's a yellow dot on the item. That means no discount but we'll throw in a pineapple and lamb muffin from our on-site coffee-teria."

3. "If you sign up for the card in the next seven seconds, we'll take an additional 10 percent off today and you can ride our pony, Blossom, to your car."

4. "If you don't buy a Clothes Wizard Star-Spangled Member Card, our stable-master, Hank, will shoot Blossom before your eyes as you try to leave the parking lot."

5. "Oh, and would you like to contribute one, three or five dollars to hurricane relief? How about wildfires? Equine rescue?"

My next stop was the franchise fern bar next door for lunch:

6. "Hiya! I'm Shelli with an 'i.' Welcome to Booger & Kate's. Would you like to start off with some wings or a cup of chowder?"

7. "Do you have a Booger & Kate's 'Every Meal is a Banquet' card?"

8. "Would you like one? It entitles you to a monthly free trip to our all-you-can-eat salad bar, although if you only have an Aristocracy card instead of True Nobility, the broccoli florets aren't included."

9. "As you can see, we have three different tabletop video units to enhance your dining experience. One has every video game ever invented; one is an online dating site so you can meet other lonely Booger & Kate's customers! And the third is the new 24/7 Harvey Weinstein deposition channel."

After eating, upon presenting me with my check, Shelli said:

10. "Could I have your email address? That way we can keep you up to date on great deals at Booger & Kate's!"

11. "You don't have an email address?! Hold on. Someone from IT will be out to set you up with your own Booger & Kate's account."

12. "You don't want your own Booger & Kate's email address?! Oh, that's a shame. In that case, we'll have to borrow Blossom the Pony from next door and our IT guys will shoot her next to your car."

13. In the parking lot, Blossom canters over and nudges me with her soft nose. There's a bucket around her neck with a note on it. "Would you like to contribute some hay?"

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