The Fine Print

from by Sam Steffen



Well I woke up with a bit of a condition
So I went in to consult with my physician
He told me I would need an operation
And that it just couldn’t wait

He said he’d need my authorized permission
In order to proceed with an excision
Gave me papers which I signed with the conviction
That soon it would be too late

The next week I was starting to feel better
That is until I got a letter
It was from hospital bill-collector
He said I owed him twenty-thousand dollars

I called and said, “tell me how can this be?
I’m being overcharged exorbitantly—
Isn’t my insurance going to front me?
I tell you I just can’t pay!”

They said, “You should’ve gone ahead and read the fine print
You might’ve understood a little different
It might’ve seemed like something that it isn’t
Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve, might’ve—but you didn’t”

So I went down to the bank to take a loan out
They said okay just take and fill this form out
I asked them to tell me what it all was about
They said it’s just S.O.P.

They asked me what I needed all that cash for
I told them that I had to pay my doctor
they told me that my income was a factor
and did I have a full-time job

I told them at the moment I did not yet
my doctor said I’d have to wait a while yet
I couldn’t work until my bones were all set
The banker-lady said: No Dice.

they said I’d need a record of some credit
Without which I might as well forget it
they said its in the contract and I read it
and they pointed at my signature

I said “a man is not all he endorses”
They said, wait just a minute, hold your horses
They said the catch about this all, of course, is
That your interest starts today


So then I went out seeking some employment
Which you will imagine brought me no enjoyment
I applied without discretion or discernment
For any and everything

I got a job working at a factry
Worked there two full weeks and then they sacked me
Told me they’d do better if they lacked me
I said what about my two-weeks pay?

They pulled me out a crumpled piece of paper
they said I signed it: didn’t I remember?
they read me off my driver’s license number
Said I’d be getting none from them

They said that in my contract there’s a section
Where they reserved the right to termination
Any day or time or place for any reason
And to withhold pay


well, I decided this was an injustice
a situation legal action must fix
so I got myself a lawyer on the off-chance
that things could be resolved

I wrote up a complaint and a proposal
An amount for which I’d be willing to settle
They laughed and said that it would go to trial
And that I was bound to lose

My lawyer showed a fierce determination
To stand up against the corporation
And would not be swayed by their intimidation
No matter how they tried

Well after the judge and jury heard it
They came up with the following verdict
they said they didn’t quite know how to word it
except to say that I had lost

My lawyer declared it was an outrage
But even so it wouldn’t make the front page
He said “another worker’s robbed of his wage—
It happens every single day.”

Then he sincerely gave me condolences
And handed me a bill of his expenses
I asked him if he’d gone and lost his senses
What did he expect me to do?

I thought that if we lost I owed him zero
He said that’s just in cases of pro bono
He said that “in the contract…” I said “oh no—
Here we go again,”


Now I don’t aim to keep you people guessin
About the moral of this story, or the lesson
The only thing I aim to be suggestin
Is to keep your eyes open wide

The next time that you go to see a lawyer
Or a banker or a doctor or employer
Or anyone who claims that they’ve got your
Best interest at heart

Make sure you bring along your readin glasses
Make sure you dot the I’s and note the dashes
Of everything that your signature passes
And make a copy for your files


from Ain't It a Pity?, released July 31, 2016



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Sam Steffen Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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