For years the English phrase that sent me into immediate paroxysms of bruxing and other non-lethal attempts to hurt myself was “up to.” I began to realize that when I saw a rack of men’s suits with a sign that said “Discounts Up To 60%” I could spin that rounder for hours and never find any suit with more than a 10% discount. But the store had not actually lied about their sale: 10% is a discount and it is on the way to 60%, it’s just not quite up there. One assumes that at some time there was at least one suit on the rack that was actually discounted 60%; I actually found this suit one day and other than being from the original Pinky Lee collection, it was very appropriate for the horse races, assuming you could get it in the horse’s size.
I don’t want to lose my disgust for the phrase “up to” since it always reminds me how dishonest people are and how businesses are more interested in their profit than in the welfare of their customers, but over the last few years a new phrase has taken over as the knee-jerk trigger that will have me throwing the nearest Booda at the television screen. That phrase is “You deserve it” and all its variations an embellishments.
I began to realize how toxic this phrase was several years back when my wife was alive and she kept a local television channel on most of the day that showed old television shows from the 60s and 70s. As you might imagine, advertisements during rerereruns of Leave It to Beaver are seldom from major advertising firms featuring well-known products and services: this is the land of infomercials and amateur spokesmen that go back to their desks after filming. Rotating with the tax lawyers, ancient secret treatments, and fake coin vendors, was a gentleman who wore a gray suit made out of galvanized gabardine who admitted to being the president of a company that paid you up-front for a cash settlement or annuity that controlled the distribution of your money. The emphasis was always on your money and the reason his company was so good to you was because you deserved it. And who said loan sharks were only in the dark alleys of the wrong-side of town? I saw this guy go from the galvanized to a suit made of crushed rubies and I suspect no one ever caught on the the fact that he was actually saying “You deserve to be fleeced.” Of course the message was uttered sotto voce behind the clenched teeth of his smile which is probably where any mention of the vigorish demanded for this humanitarian service you so deserve.
Of course this shyster isn’t the only person using the “You deserve it” scam: let’s go back to those television lawyers. How often do you hear, “Have you been injured in an accident? Were you wrongfully terminated from your job? Did you find something strange in your granola bar?” I could go on and on with these but the story is the same: You might be entitled to big-money compensation … and you deserve it. I’m cringing already just thinking about the level of greed and mendacity which defines our culture.
Incidentally, there is a current television game show on ABC called You Deserve It. I haven’t seen this show (I’m not sure I have even seen ABC is a dozen or more years) but the write-up suggests the typical yahoo greed-fest and the name of the show is probably well deserved.