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136

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John opens the fridge and takes out a beer as bitter as the day he is having. He should never have signed that contract. “Ding!” Although he already knows what is in it, he opens the SMS he has just received.
“Your health insurance premium has just gone up by one penny per month. This new tariff will be applied from your next payment date.”
No, he should not have signed that personalized automatically-adjusting contract offered by his insurer. The initial premium was indeed very low and he had been told that it would support the positive efforts he was making to improve his health. It was a means of encouragement calculated very precisely and which only charged for actual risks. So he had accepted the setting up of his GPS nanorobot “companion” and the installation of surveillance devices.
And there was no point in putting the beer back in the fridge! They take it for granted that you could cheat and put it back empty.

John’s stomach is grumbling. He is hungry. He particularly fancies the chilled pizza that is just at its best-before date. But he has ripped up his insurance package. He resists. Then he snaps. His stomach is rebelling. “Ding!”
“Bloody hell!”
“Your health insurance premium has just gone up by one penny per month. This new tariff will be applied from your next payment date.”

Eating his shameful food, John feels like a teenager parading his rebellion. Riding this wave of euphoria, limits fade away and he is overwhelmed by a great desire for a cigarette. There must be one or two left in the pack abandoned in the drawer. Just one! The last one. And there just happens to be a working lighter too. John goes out to the street so as not to pollute his home. He leans against the wall of the building and lights his cigarette. “Ding!” John raises his eyes to the heavens.
“Your health insurance premium has just gone up by two pence per month. This new tariff will be applied from your next payment date. Remember that smoking kills.”
“Smoking ruins you, you mean. Two pence! They don’t hang about.”
“Ding!”
“What now?”
“Smoking in a public place is illegal. The relevant authorities located in the street have been informed of your offence.”
“Oh hell! I’d forgotten that. And wham - a fine on top of everything else!”

John, furious, decides to walk a while to forget about it but he keeps thinking of the pennies being added to the pennies that end up flowing into that great river of a premium. To save a bit of money, he took out a contract with a twenty-four-month commitment that he cannot cancel except by paying an astronomical penalty. Even worse, every penalty increases the length of the contract. In short, he has to find some money soon or he will go bankrupt. He is overwhelmed by despair, but at least this feeling does not lead to any further monetary adjustment.

Suddenly, he sees a woman sitting on a bench with her purse lying carelessly beside her. John stops, as do his thoughts. He sets off again, walking mechanically. He approaches the bench. The woman does not notice him. Quickly, he snatches the purse and starts running.
“Stop thief!”
John has no idea if the woman has stood up or if anyone else has joined in with her shouting. He runs and runs. Five minutes. Ten minutes. He loses all awareness of time. He stops when he can’t run any more. He turns round. No-one is taking any notice of him. No-one is running after him. “Ding!”
“What now?”
“Congratulations! As part of our cardiovascular support, your insurance premium has just gone down by one penny per month. This new tariff will be applied from your next payment date.”

Translated by Wendy Cross

136

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Short · ago
Up and down ;--))
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