Just sampling the possibilities | AspenTimes.com

Just sampling the possibilities

Barry Smith

Go into any respectable bakery, and there on the counter you’ll find a small offering of the day’s wares cut into bite-sized pieces. Even though you didn’t come for the crumb cake, one free taste, and you’ve got to have more.Certainly not a new idea, but a brilliant one.Which brings us to the premise of today’s “Irrelativity”: Some businesses offer free samples of their wares, others don’t. Those that don’t, well, maybe they should … Banks: Sure, they give out candy, dog biscuits and free pens, though the pens are usually pretty tricky to unfasten from those annoying chains. And occasionally they offer promotional buttons that say things like, “Keep Fiscally Fit,” but what do any of those goodies and trinkets have to do with my financial nest egg? Suppose I’m considering dropping a hundred dollars on a savings bond? How is a lollipop going to sway my decision? What kind of a sucker do they think I am?Now, if there were a tray in each teller’s window filled with free samples of, say, $50 bonds, then I could take a couple home, hang on to them until they mature – 35 years or so – THEN be able to make a fully informed decision as to whether I want to buy bonds or just live off of my current retirement plan, which has an awful lot riding on the predicted increased value of ornate salt and pepper shakers.At the very least, banks should have a basket full of quarters available as samples. I may be thinking about withdrawing a few hundred bucks in quarters, so why not let me jingle a few free samples in my pocket while I decide? Especially on laundry day. Cardiologists: This has probably happened to you more than once – you stroll into your local cardiologist’s office, the receptionist asks if she can help you, and you say no thanks, you’re just browsing. Well, if you see anything you like, just let her know. You’re considering having a little preventative cardiological work done; maybe some directional coronary atherectomy, or maybe having one of those new combination iPod/pacemakers installed. What you’d really like would be to take home a few angioplasty balloons or maybe even a carotid stent, just to see how they feel. But you don’t see any of these free samples lying around, so you leave.If these medical specialists want to start earning some REAL money, they’d be wise to at least have a chafing dish of fried mozzarella sticks on hand for walk-ins. Surgeons in general: Kidney stones, gallstones, little bite-sized bits of appendix. Something like that. Dentists: Had your eye on that double root canal for some time now, haven’t you? If only you could experience a free sample of what’s in store for you. Try biting down hard and fast on a salad fork, available in the lobby, in a small wicker basket next to the magazines. Then make your appointment. Auto mechanics: Natural or synthetic oil? Brand name or generic? And how do you find your way through the staggering number of transmission fluids available? Well, imagine if they had free samples of vital car juices in small ketchup-like packets? Or better yet, a viscosity sampler tray – various motor oils poured into little saucers next to a basket of crusty bread and an oversized pepper mill? Wouldn’t that be helpful? Wouldn’t it? Pharmacists: I know … they already have free samples of stuff like aspirin and Pepto-Bismol, but these aren’t exactly conveniently sized. And then there’s the problem of the security guard lurking around. But what they really need are samples of Tylenol-3, morphine, Viagra, quaaludes, Valium, Percodan … and they need them in small, individual packets that don’t say “Not for Resale” anywhere on them.NEXT TIME: “Salvation sampler plate, or a bite-sized bit of brimstone … free samples at church.”

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