I was shopping downtown last week and I was hungry, and as it happened I was near this restaurant that was handing out samples. I tried a bite, decided I liked it, and so went and ate a plate full. As I was leaving this guy came running up to me and told me I needed to pay.
Really, just like that he handed me a bill!
I laughed. "Dude, why would I pay you?"
The guy gaped like a fish out if water and says, "Because it was my food, and I cooked it."
"It's not your food," I said, pointing out the obvious. "You cooked this to share, right?"
The guy backpedaled a little. "Well, yes, but you still need to pay."
"Because you owe me for the time and the materials?"
I could tell he knew his argument was flimsy. "So, you're telling me I should pay for your hobby?"
"What?" He was obviously embarrassed.
"You like cooking?" I asked.
"Yes, it's one of my favorite things. That's why I've made a career out if it. That's why I opened this restaurant."
"You're such a jerk!" I said, barely able to contain my rage. "You do want me to pay for your hobby? You honesty think I should pay you just because you cook? Anyone can cook!"
He looked confused. "That was a gourmet meal. It took me six hours to prepare that dish."
I shook me head. It's like the guy was tuning out everything I said. "I didn't say the meal was bad. I'd eat here again. I'm just saying that it's ridiculous for you to expect me to pay for food."
"I have bills to pay. Rent. Kids. Medical bills."
"So get off your lazy duff and get a real job," I told him. "No one is making you cook."
"You still need to pay," he told me. "I have to pay the farmer who grow the crops, and the rancher, and machinist who installed my freezer, and my electric bill."
I waved a warning finger at him. "Uh-uh. You don't *need* those things, those are luxuries. You could have raised your own food, and if you hadn't opened the restaurant you wouldn't have those bills." A put a gentle arm on his shoulder. "I get it," I said. "I really do. But you have to realize that you aren't doing anything real here. Everything you create vanishes within a day. Why would I pay for something I can't keep or display?"
He just stared at me. I think he finally realized just what kind of snotwazzle he was being. But, just to be sure, I said, "Even if I agreed that cooking a gourmet meal was hard, that it had value of some kind, how could you justify selling food? Society needs food. If you're going to cook you should share it for free. Food is for everyone."
The guy looked so sad. It was like the world had just fell out from under him.
We've all been there. We all have days where we realize we're in the wrong. "Tell you what," I said, feeling a sudden spark of generosity. "I'll pay. Just to make you feel good. I know what it's like to be between jobs."
He was grinding his teeth, put I persevered.
I dug out my purse. "Here's a dime," I said. "Ten cents, just like I'd pay for a package of ramen. That's fair, right? Food is food."
Do you know what? He tried to hit me! Honestly! After I'd been nice to him. I even complimented his cooking, and he tried to hit me! As if it's my fault he doesn't have a real job. He probably lives in his mom's basement.
Some people are ridiculous. They do things for fun and expect you to foot the bill. Let me tell you, I won't stand for it. I am done paying for other people to fiddle around "enjoying life" instead of getting real jobs.
Man, that cook made me angry. He's never going to eat all the food he cooks. I was practically doing him a favor!
But not now. Nope. I am never going back to that restaurant again. I won't even tell you the name, that's how bad it is.
And if you think that's bad, you should have seen the lady at the shoe store! Eighty bucks for a pair of sandals? I told her she'd take the $6.99 I'd pay at Walmart and she'd like it. You have to watch people like a hawk, otherwise they'll walk all over you.
NOTE: This is, yes, a satire on the state of publishing. I promise, I didn't steal a meal or shoes. I could get arrested for that. Alas, we live in a world where stealing words is much, much easier than stealing food.