Jewish World Review May 11, 2004 / 20 Iyar, 5764
You rant, you pay
What is a fair price to charge someone who wishes to rant and rave in your ear for a solid minute?
$10? $100? Do you really think I can get my spouse to pay me money?
Philip Doyen of Maine runs something called "Vent-Line" and charges people what I believe to be the low, low price of $1.99 a minute to scream at him over the telephone.
Just to give you an idea of what a sad state our country is in these days, some mental health professionals are trying to get the state attorney's office to shut down Doyen's business because, they say, he's taking advantage of his customers.
"For some people, venting is going to upset them more," said Leslie Brancato of the Community Counseling Center in Portland. "That he's charging $1.99 a minute is, in my opinion, totally exploitative."
Doyen, who says he's subjected himself to the rants of dozens of people along the East Coast, is up front about the fact that Vent-Line is strictly a business.
"I'm in it for the money, like everybody else," he told the Portland Press Herald. "If it helps people, great."
I, personally, think this is a terrific idea, though I do worry about the (possibly pre-existing) psychological damage that comes from subjecting yourself to this kind of torment for only $2 a minute. Quite possibly, Doyen hits the mute button at the utterance of the first expletive and wanders off to fix himself a sandwich. When you're in a business of this sort, you learn to cope.
I don't want to tell Doyen how to run his business … well, actually, I do. If I were running Vent-Line, I'd have a sliding scale of fees according to what the customer wanted to rant about. If, for example, the caller wanted to go off on me about the Boston Red Sox' inability to win a World Series, I would be willing to listen to that for a relatively modest per-minute fee. (Don't tell anyone, but I derive a certain sadistic pleasure from the team's haplessness.) If, however, the caller wanted to rail about what a coward John Kerry is because the bullets he took in Vietnam did not strike any vital organs, then the counters are going to be spinning like my electric meter when the pool heater's on.
Here's a table of my per-minute charges for listening to your rants and raves:
$5 The person who delivers your newspaper never hits the driveway, Social Security is in the toilet, nobody uses their turn signals anymore.
$10 People leaving the Van Wezel before the show is over, the media's liberal agenda, anything having to do with daylight-saving time.
$20 All illegal immigrants should be arrested; if people can't afford a house in Sarasota, they should live somewhere else; if people don't want to say a Christian prayer before the start of a Manatee School Board meeting, they should move somewhere else.
No charge High price of beer at ballparks; just what, exactly, President Bush meant when he said in February 2002, in Tokyo: "For a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times"; why I deserve a big, fat raise
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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.
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