Fee to be me


Last week I discussed the mountain of federal, state, county and local taxes, surcharges, user fees, and myriad of add-on charges we are all subject to at increasingly oppressive levels. Alarmingly, if you follow what our “leaders” in Washington are planning, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Last week I also mentioned that my wife and I are in the process of paying for upcoming high school graduation expenses along with college application fees for the last of our four kids.

I’m reminded of when the morning TV shows announce the most recent research totaling the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 years. That makes me want to install one of those billboard-like signs with huge, red LED numbers usually announcing the up-to-the-second national debt total. As you watch, the numbers increase by thousands of dollars every second. I need a sign like that mounted above my roof that adds up the ever-increasing cost of raising a kid – although I’m not sure my house is wide enough.

Anyway, the same week I’m paying graduation expenses and college application fees, my son brings home the Jostens graduation packet – an envelope as thick as the latest Senate health care overhaul bill. Holy cow. Even the ala carte “menu” of must-have items (cap, gown, tassel, announcements, etc.) quickly add up to over $100. These Jostens people really have it figured out. Not only do they have a monopoly on a captive audience, but they are masters of the “up sell.”

For example, they sell several different types of graduation announcements, naturally. But who needs a choice of six different types of envelopes to put the announcements in? Oh, and don’t forget the announcement inserts, which are tiny little squares of tissue paper. Mini-Kleenex. Sold separately, of course. And do we really need a choice of four different types of tassels – as in a Souvenir Tassel, a Stacked Tassel (don’t even ask), a Mascot Tassel, and a Status Tassel? Apparently, ye$.

For the sake of parents who haven’t yet graduated a son or daughter from high school, I won’t mention the shock and awe that awaits them upon discovering the cost of senior pictures and class rings. Can you say, “second mortgage”?

But wait, there’s more. In addition to the newly increased state sales tax of 9.75%, our profit-drunk friends at Jostens also charge a handling fee of $9.50. Yeah, I know who’s getting handled here.

All of these charges, taxes and fees got me to thinking it might be time to turn the tables. For example, maybe I’ll start charging CV High $15 every time they interrupt our family dinner with yet another robo-phone-call. I’ll call my fee an “Unnecessary Communications Response surcharge.” I like the sound of that.

While I’m at it, I’m thinking of charging Glendale Unified a “Student Delivery fee” every morning I drop my son off at school – and of course, a “Student Recovery tax” for removing him each afternoon.

Next? A Report Card Access and Analysis fee for when grades arrive in the mail and I spend time figuring out how to open those self-mailing, multi-fold, multi-perforated grade notices, then have to crack the district’s bizarre system of codes and symbols to somehow decipher my son’s GPA. While I’m at it, I will also be tacking on a Mail Collection charge to cover the labor charges incurred in retrieving the report card from the mailbox.

In addition, I will forthwith be charging an “Illness Informant fee” for calling the school’s absence line to report when my son stays home sick from school.

Finally, for the graduation ceremony next June at Stengel Field, the district’s accounts payable department can expect an invoice detailing my Parental Accompaniment/Graduate Escort fee, Oppressive Heat Tolerance tax, and for good measure, my Heckling Suppression surcharge. Personal checks, cash or PayPal cheerfully accepted.

I’ll see you ‘round town.

Jim Chase is a lifelong CV resident and freelance writer.

He can be reached at jim@wordchaser.com.