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From the Publisher’s Desk – Just agree to a few pages of terms

By Keith Whitson

“Welcome to a free subscription. Please enjoy the many benefits offered to you by signing below. You cannot duplicate, manufacture or sell any information from our listings.

“Also, by signing this document, you agree to give over all rights and claims of your first child. You agree to give up any vital organ if needed by another person of this company. You agree to donate half of your monthly income to this company.

“Please enjoy your free subscription which will expire in one month. At that  time, your rate will be billed monthly at five times the normal rate. This agreement is legal and binding.”

We all leave ourselves open for such disaster. We just sign on the “X.” Maybe somewhere out there are a few souls who actually read all of the details to agreements before they sign. But, for the most of us, we don’t have time and we wouldn’t understand it if we did read the agreement.

It happens to us when we buy a car. By the time we have worked out a deal through the exhausting, dickering process, we are too tired to read through pages and pages of paperwork detailing the on-the-spot financing. We just want to get in our new car and go home.

The showroom accountant, who wants to leave on time, briefly sums up the 20 page document of small printed words and then points to the “X” where we are to sign. Sure, we can read it all for ourselves but the car will become last year’s model while we take the necessary amount of time. We just trust that all is well with the terms of the contract.

Buying a house turns into  volumes of paperwork. You could take the time to read every word in the document. Just know that in doing so, you will miss at least the first full week of living in your new home. Add to that recovery time spent in the hospital from emergency carpal tunnel surgery to alleviate the pain from signing your name by the “X” 50 times throughout the stack of paperwork. The financial experts and lawyers don’t want to be there a long time as well, so they just paraphrase each document. “This one just says you will do……,” they explain. Sign here. “And, this one is just to declare……” Sign here.

It seems it is almost daily that I agree to something through the many electronic devices I own. Computers, cell phone, tablet and more are all offering updates to the updates they just updated last week. Each one has a lengthy set of rules, terms and guidelines.

Up front, there is always a scrolling screen of detailed information requiring a response that states you agree to the terms. I usually give a quick click of “Yes,” I agree, without ever reading the information. Afterwards, another code flashes up to inquire if I read the information. What? Again, I deceitfully click “Yes.”

I must confess that I have never read any of the information, but I have “agreed” many, many times. Agreed to what? I’m not sure but I was in too big of a hurry to acquire access to whatever I was trying to get to. I am just hoping that someday people in white jackets don’t show up to remove my vital organs due to an agreement I agreed to but didn’t really read.

It must be the most unappreciative job to write all of  those guidelines. The hours and hours of work to compose such a boring masterpiece must be mind boggling. The writer has to make sure every little detail is covered to protect the product and the company. At the same time, they must realize that almost no one will read it, but will agree to it.

It reminds me of a teacher I had in high school. We were to write “statements” out of the text book. There was basically no teaching done, but we were to take the textbook and write facts from it. The teacher required we have a specific number of statements.

Day after day, week after week, we did this. Now, I am so accustomed to typing that I don’t think my hand would hold up to such demands of a workout. Line after line I copied from the book and always got an “A.”

Some of the students felt the teacher wasn’t really reading all of those statements and they  would try to hide messages in the midst of their homework. “I don’t believe you read these,” was one of the few I can print in this column. It turns out that particular time the instructor did read them and was quick to point out the fact to the class by holding up the student’s work and making the failed attempt known to all others who may have had similar idea.

Another challenging job would be speech writing for someone else. I imagine it must be distressing for someone who writes speeches for Donald Trump. The same goes for his wife’s speech, where the writer copied lines spoken by Mrs. Obama. With him, the first few minutes you are feeling great. The audience is loving it. Then, a few more minutes into the speech, he goes off on his own and you are biting your nails.

My mom gets lots of junk mail and she “wins” something daily or receives a “special” deal for an item. I’ve learned the deceiving envelopes by appearance and try to get to the mailbox before she does. I don’t even bother to open most. I just tear it in two and toss it in the trash. After all, I don’t have time to read the details. I am too busy accepting terms for upgrades on my electronic devices. Not another upgrade!