Monday, May 13, 2013

From The Cheap Seats

Economizing is killing me. Take Saturday afternoon. I was strolling up and down the aisles of a nearby supermarket and noticed any number of low prices on the types of things I like to eat. Great, I thought, perhaps a bit too smugly. Those cheese crackers I love are now available in the stores name (read generic brand). Reaching for two boxes of the delectable snacks, I was jolted to my sense by a small sign informing me that I had to have a special "valued customer" card in order to save money.

Listen, buddy. I don't want to become a member of your oh-so-exclusive dining club. All I want is a snack to eat while watching Hogan's Heroes reruns, thank you. If I want to become a member, I'll let you haze me via some proprietary grocery store initiation. Wind sprints with shopping carts across speed bumps or something.

I studied psychology back in the nineties when I had a lot of free time. I understand the allure of feeling special. Being a card carrying member of Cholesterol Emporium would only make me feel manipulated. "Come on, Rob. Sign up for our VIP membership so you'll feel entitled to save big bucks." Yep, I get the whole spiel. Apparently, so did Gertie, who was busy stocking up her cart with extra bottles of Luscious Locks Shampoo in Aisle 6.

Geez. People tend to go shopping once per week. Maybe it's because I'm a bachelor (still not too late, ladies), but it seems to me that the "big savings" the woman was saving could just as easily have been saved on whatever product she was going to purchase the following week.

It also occurred to me that people think they have to spend money in order to save it. I found a revolutionary way to save money: I don't spend it. Sure, I'm a fiend for toaster strudel, but I refuse to spend an additional nine bucks just so I can enjoy that extra spoonful or so of raspberry jam they stuff between all of that flash frozen pie crust cut lovingly to fit in my Proctor Silex two-hole toaster (discounted this week in Aisle Eleven). With the money I saved, I marveled at how many cartons of ramen noodles I was able to afford as a result. And don't think I didn't strut my cart past Gertie who was deliberating between sesame seed or jumbo hamburger buns. Her eyes were literally glowing with rapture over the huge savings she was soon going to enjoy, even if that meant buying more buns than she could possibly use before October.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I was caught up in the spending mood myself -until I noticed that my cart was spilling over. Let me share this with you: if you're passing a mother of a five year old in a grocery aisle and a box of red licorice falls out of your cart, keep moving. As soon as I reached over to pick it up, little Tommy announced to everyone all the way over to the milk section that he thought the candy was his. I dropped it, which according to Rule Number Seven of the Official Five Year Old's Rule Book of Tantrums, equates to a fumble. At the moment it felt like all I needed to feel like a complete heel was a cape and a handlebar moustache. Yes, I left the candy on the floor and slinked off to the sanctity of Aisle Two, hovering around the paper towels and toilet bowl cleaner (fifty cents off this week if you act now).

Fortunately, the receipt told a positive story; despite my over exuberance with Spanish rice and tortillas, my bill was only fifty-five dollars. I laughed giddily as I wheeled my small shopping cart around those Hummer-sized jobs and out the door. Let Uncle Bernie gloat about his "savings" as he muscles his three hundred dollars' worth of comestibles to the ol' Buick.

I can't wait until next Saturday. They're having a sale on Oreos.

I wonder how much money I'll save?


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