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At what point do you pay $12 for a smoothie?

Digesting the cost of living from a time traveller’s point of view.

At what point do you pay $12 for a smoothie?

“Maybe it was $12 for both,” Shane Cubis thought naively.

Next year, it’ll be a quarter of a century since Pulp Fiction graced our screens, and the scene that’s probably aged least well (apart from anything with Quentin Tarantino on screen spouting racial epithets) is Vincent Vega blowing out over the existence of a $5 milkshake.

If you’re old enough to remember watching that scene in the cinema, you’re probably also old enough to remember lines of cars queueing for that final servo still slinging petrol for 30 odd-cents a litre. A different world, of Super and Unleaded, of AM and FM, of houses that cost five figu— okay, let’s not get too misty-eyed.

Let’s talk about this smoothie. It’s delicious. It’s crammed with a range of ingredients that you can feel improving your body in real-time – we’re talking fresh mango, honey, coconut yoghurt and milk, banana and turmeric. They even sprinkle some almond slivers on the top, to chew on while you think about how much you just spent on a drink that’ll be working its way through your digestive system long before you get home.

You can also add acai powder and/or vegan protein for $1 apiece.

It was only in February this year that I realised that, yes, I was paying $7.50 for a meat pie that was a step above Mrs Mac’s, but otherwise unremarkable. Sitting at my kitchen bench, beard full of expensive pastry crumbs, I thought about going back in time to visit my younger self as he low-key panicked that he wouldn’t have enough cash on hand for the groceries currently being bipped through. Just to tell him my circa-2017 scale of what’s reasonable for a speedily wolfed takeaway lunch.

And now, a mere eight months later, I’m time-travelling back to February to confess how bad it’s become. I’m handing over a redback for a goddamn smoothie and not expecting a note back. At some point above my pay grade, you must become completely blind to the cost of everyday things. Which makes sense – but it also seems weird to me that the kinds of people who would, say, think it’s entirely reasonable to spend more than $30,000 on their home internet are the same people who think it’s entirely reasonable that the dole should be around $273/week.

I mean, that’s 54 expensive milkshakes in 1994, but today, it’ll barely get you 14 pie ‘n’ smoothie combos in Melbourne. And that’s before adding the acai and protein action.

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