Volume 38, Issue 7, July 2003


Hey New Jersey Ö Wake Up
    A Cheap Skate Ö A Cheap State
by Lyle R. Hill

Iíve tried. I really have. And I think for the most part, Iíve succeeded. But I canít turn the other cheek on this one. No, this one deserves a response. And herein, right now, Iím going to give it one.

Before I get too carried away, let me explain. You see, from time to time I have been known to Ö well, letís say Ö attack people Ö or groups Ö or trade unions Ö or states Ö or even entire countries. Now mind you, I have never attacked anyone or anything without provocation. No one would ever accuse me of being a bully. Truth be known, Iím really quite timid. Very non-confrontational actually. A live-and-let-live kind of a guy. 

Further, on those occasions when I have felt compelled to take someone on by way of the written word in this highly popular publication, I have been soundly taken to task. If and when this article comes out, it would not surprise me at all if I get that all too familiar phone call from Ms. Chilcoat or Ms. Taffera or even Queen Debra herself. You should have heard them scream after I attacked the Canadians a couple of years back. And heaven itself couldnít protect me from them after I took a shot or two at the Virginia Glass Association. But I donít care what they say to me after this. Enough is enough and I have the right to be treated with a certain level of respect. After all, if I donít respond to this, who knows what could happen next? But enough rhetoric Ö let me tell you what happened.
As you may remember, I wrote an article a few months ago that dealt with this ridiculous situation wherein various suppliers reach into our wallets and take money from us by way of a sneaky little device known as an energy surcharge. I personally think itís a cowardly thing to do. 

I mean if you need a price increase, then put out a price increase, you bunch of whining, shirking, finger-pointing weaklings. By the way, a lot of people agreed with what I was trying to say in that article. I received numerous calls and e-mails supporting my position and not one person expressed an opposing view. 

Now at the end of that article, I explained how I, too, was having an energy crisis and therefore felt entitled to an energy surcharge of my own. So I asked you readers Ö wonderful and benevolent lot that you are Ö to send me a dollar (cash of course) to help defray some of the energy costs that I incur in pumping out these articles every month. And the response from you kind and considerate people was nothing less than heartwarming. Almost instantly, I began receiving money from all over the country. Some sent me whole dollars; one witty guy sent me 90 cents saying the other 10 percent was being held as retention. Another sent me 50 cents saying that times were tough in his area. A couple of people sent me IOUs. I even received a dollar from a metal supplier Ö honestly Ö a metal supplier. Don Vermillion from EFCO actually sent me a real dollar bill Ö serial number CG 26621307B Ö Iíll cherish it always. 

But then, just when I was starting to think that there was some level of appreciation for my efforts and the energy expended to reach out to this down-trodden industry, I get a letter from a guy in New Jersey that ruined everything. A guy by the name of Eric Ulrich Ö director of architectural sales at Almond Glass Works in Collingswood, N.J. And hereís what he saidÖ.

Mr. Hill: 
I read your column every month in USGlass, but I really thought this last monthís article wherein you asked the readers to send you a dollar as your own personal energy surcharge was not very clever. In fact, it was in poor taste and quite tacky. While Iíve been screaming about these energy surcharges since they began, I think you did a very poor job of addressing the situation. In fact, I found your article to be very Mickey Mouse and therefore I am sending you a Mickey Dollar as my way of letting you know how I feel. 
Eric Ulrich

Well Mr. Eric Ulrich of New Jersey, let me tell you something. I think you are a cheap skate. And you are from a cheap state. The proof that you are a cheap skate is obvious based upon your actions. And if you choose to argue my contention that New Jersey is a cheap state, just look at that ridiculous state quarter of yours Ö a bunch of guys climbing all over each other in some little row boat. Talk about cheap Ö couldnít they afford two boats? And by the way, do you know where those guys were going in that little overcrowded boat? Well Iíll tell. Even in colonial times, your stateís reputation for cheapness was well-known because those guys in the boat were leaving New Jersey and heading to Delaware where they knew there were more boats and a more generous bunch of people. 

IMPORTANT NOTE TO DELAWARE READERS: I donít recall getting any money from Delaware so some of you might want to mail me some quickly so I can continue to speak highly of you when comparing you with your cheap New Jersey neighbors. Now back to my comments to Ulrich Ö 

Also, Mr. Eric Ulrich, I went on the old Internet and did a little research before I started coming after you and that state of yours, and hereís some of what I found. Your state bird is the gold finch Ö one of the cheapest birds known to mankind. And your state flower is the violet Ö now thereís a really rare and exotic form of plant life. And how do you account for the fact that there are only 5.5 library books per resident in that state of yours? Or better yet, are you aware that there are 333 people per hospital bed ... kinda crowded Ö kinda cheap if you ask me! And hereís my favorite Ö New Jersey has 922 miles of railroad track, but only 431 miles of interstate highway. Donít you people own cars or are you just too cheap?

But wait Ö this just in Ö Iím listening to the radio as I type this and only a few minutes ago Ö at approximately 6:12 PM on June 24 Ö the following report was given. The state of New Jersey has just passed a No Driving While Drowsy Law in an effort to cut down on highway accidents occurring when New Jersey drivers fall asleep while driving. This is the truth Ö so help me. So apparently, New Jersey is not only a cheap state, but a boring one as well. And with only 431 miles of interstate highways, there must be sleepy people and wrecked cars all over the place. 

OK Ö thatís enough Ö I want to be reasonable and I want to be fair. After all, I am from Illinois, where our highways are plentiful and our drivers are alert. So hereís my offer: I will forget all about this matter and promise not to make fun of your cheapness or the cheapness of your state if you immediately put a real five-dollar bill into an envelope and mail it to me. I would also like to suggest to any and all other New Jersey readers that you do likewise just in case Ulrich doesnít come through here. It would go a long way to proving me wrong on this New Jersey cheapness thing. Otherwise Ö I will forever have to consider New Jersey as a boringly cheap state full of sleepy cheapskates. The choice is yours! 


Lyle HillLyle R. Hill 
is president of MTH 
Industries of Chicago.


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