You’ve Gotta Put A Penny In The Slot

You have to put a penny in the slot, if you want to live here. If you want to exist. It’s cheaper if you pay with your mobile phone. It’s cheaper if you pay online. There’s a discount if you set up a direct debit. There’s a discount if you’re rich.

That, right there, makes no sense. But still, you have to put a penny in the slot. You have to charge your electricity key, and we’re going to charge you more, because you’re poor. There’s no way to say this without sounding like a radical leftist, without sounding like a staunch socialist, but it’s a truth, a sad horrible truth. It’s expensive being poor.

You have to put a penny in the slot. You have to pay. Every day. If you want to live, if you want to engage with this culture. If you want to watch TV, and you have to have all the channels, because otherwise you might miss something, and feel excluded the next day. Think about the children. Won’t someone please think about the children? Your poor kids at school, not knowing what the other kids are talking about because they didn’t see that repeat of QI on Dave last night. They can’t engage.

You need super fast broadband. You need 3G on your mobile phone. You need a built in camera, and the ability to share every part of your life instantly with a thousand strangers. You need all of this and more to be happy. To be part of life. What decade is this, after all? What century is it? It’s almost enough to make you long for the days when you’d only get judged by the logo on your trainers. Mine were good enough, but only just.

We will tell you that you need all of this. You will get in debt to pay for it all. Then we will call you irresponsible. And it keeps going till the ferry man comes, and stretches out his white, bony hand and says, “YOU HAVE TO PUT A PENNY IN THE SLOT.”

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Ian Sharman
Ian is a freelance writer and artist. He founded Orang Utan Comics Studio with Peter Rogers in 2006, writes for their Eagle Award Nominated anthology Eleventh Hour and regularly inks for Panini’s Marvel Heroes comic.
Ian Sharman

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