I’m not sure exactly when (other than it was more than likely when I was gainfully employed with a regular paycheck and some disposable income) but at some point I apparently succumbed to a subscriber solicitation and ordered National Geographic’s Almanac of American History, which arrived a couple weeks ago.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book that packs a lot of easily navigable information between its covers. But I finally got around to opening the included invoice and my eyes did one of those cartoon pops at the $50 price tag — something just not very navigable in these post-job pennywise times.

Sure, I thought about just keeping the book and ignoring what would become a postal parade of invoices followed by past due and then way past due notices before the arrival of the vague threats of involving credit agencies and damaging my credit rating. Are you kidding, I grew up ordering the proverbial 11 albums or tapes for one-cent from Columbia House and then never fulfilling my side of the bargain. Eventually the plea-threats for the money owed would peter out and when that happened I would order me up another 11 and go through the whole thing again.

But that was then when I was a broke punk and this is now and even though I’m just an older punk perhaps as broke, I have much respect for National Geographic and figured I’d call up their customer service depot and broach the subject of returning the volume. After explaining that I enjoyed the book but just couldn’t accept the half-hundie ding I figured at worst I’d be on the hook for the return postage. But the very nice person I spoke with told me I wouldn’t even have to suffer that.

Sure enough in the mail yesterday came a postage-due merchandise return label. All I have to do is pack it up and bike it over to the post office.

This is how it should always be.