Welcome and/or welcome back. Looking to sign up for a subscription? Or maybe you’re already a subscriber? Either way, go ahead and type your email address in the box below.

What’s that?

Do I recognize you?

That’s a good one. Ha ha. Go ahead and type your email address in the box. Please.

Look, just write it. Hit the enter key. Now give me your password. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.

What, you want me to level with you? You want to know how real this gets?

If I let any more non-subscribers in, they’re gonna kill me. They’re gonna kill my family. Bam. Done.

That’s right, just type the password in the box. Nice and easy.

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Oops—almost there. Why not upgrade your subscription while you’re at it? Looks like you’re just paying for the digital news tier. Not even some games? You look like you’d get a kick out of Spelling Bee.

Just consider it. I gotta be able to say I asked you, buddy.

Sulzberger himself calls me into his office one night on the way out. I have no idea what it’s for, so I go in and sit down, whatever. He asks me how I’m liking it here. I tell him it’s fine. Asks about my family, my kids. I got a little boy and a little girl. Lights of my life.

He just says, yeah. Gets up from his desk, walks over and locks the office door behind me, pulls out a .38 from his waistband, puts it on the desk real casual, barrel facing me. Tells me he has a problem, which means I have a problem.

The numbers aren’t looking good. Too many people want a free lunch. Guess what, he says. Pulls the hammer back.

What? I ask nervously.

There is no free lunch. Get the picture?

So, I hope you’ll forgive me if I seem a little keyed up. Maybe you already logged in on the web browser. Maybe you didn’t. Lots of people tell me lots of things. Better to just enter your email again, to be safe.

You wouldn’t be interested in adding delivery to your account, would you? Maybe start small, Thursdays and Sundays? Hard to replace that old-school newsprint feel, right?

Swear to god, Sulzberger, he holds up a copy of Monday’s edition. Puts it two inches from my nose. Asks me what it looks like.

What, I ask.

What. Does. It. Look. Like.

I didn’t know what to say.

Does it look like a charity?

No, sir.

I didn’t think so either, but then again, I’m not the one who’s been letting people read the op-eds for free. You get me?

But sir, I say to him. They had an .edu address, I didn’t know whether to—

Slaps me hard across the face.

They had a what?

They had a—

Slaps me again. These undergrads with their tin cups, he says. Smart enough to get into college but too stupid to cobble together five bucks a week? You know what I think?

What, sir?

I think they’re just smart enough to play you for a goddamn fool. You verify everyone, you understand me? Everyone. I don’t care if they closed the tab two seconds earlier on the same computer. You like your little life, you like going to the state park with the kids every summer, you like taking the wife to dinner on your anniversary? You want to keep doing all that? You check them, and then you check them again. Every single time.

Almost to the article, bud—I gotta ask, though, have you considered adding a Cooking subscription? We’ve got thousands of recipes that make meal prep something you actually look forward to.