My mom — who never saw a Sunday newspaper supplement she didn’t like — is one of the world’s most devoted coupon clippers. She’s the person you hate to stand in line behind at the grocery store, because you’ll be standing there with your two items while my mom hands the clerk a phone book of coupons that pertain to the six items she just purchased. Usually the store ends up owing her money by the time she’s through.
Anyway, for my entire life, I’ve listened to my mom say — in only semi-jest — “I have a coupon burning a hole in my pocket!” I always laugh, but I guess I’m my mother’s son, because I know exactly what she means. With me, though, it’s not coupons — I’m far too lazy to clip those coupons, and far too unorganized to remember to take them with me to grocery store. But I am one of those people who has a member’s discount card for just about every store I visit.
You know the kind of card I’m talking about. You make your purchase at Safeway, or PetSmart, or wherever, and as the cashier is ringing you up, she asks, “Do you have your I’m A Member Of A Not Really All That Exclusive Club But Still So Much Better Than You Are Membership card today?”
“Um, no?” I always say, ending my response with an audible question mark.
“Would you like one?” she asks, still ringing up the cookie dough I’ll be having for dinner.
“Is it free?” I ask — and it is, provided I fill out a form that has my name and address and email so they can send me all sorts of ads that I’ll immediately throw away or delete. Then I’m given a card — or, even cooler, a tag I can hang off my keychain! — that I can scan when I make my purchases and get discounts or deals.
I love these cards, and I love the deals they offer. But I’m an enormous sucker and I’m easy prey for a cleverly worded come on. If I’m at Staples, and a sign under gum erasers says “Buy three, get 2 free (with membership card),” well, it doesn’t matter that I only need one gum eraser. I’ll come home with five.
The other day, my wife sent me to Safeway to pick up hotdogs. I came home with four packages. A single package of Esskay hotdogs was 2 bucks — but a red sign just below offered “Buy 2, Get 2 (with membership card)”. Come on, that’s just way too good a deal to pass up. Spend four bucks, and get four packages instead of two. Even I can do that math.
“And just what are we going to do with four packages of hot dogs?” my patient wife asked.
“Freeze them,” I said. Really, I don’t know why my wife can’t think of these things.
On my way home from work tonight, I’ll be stopping at Borders to take advantage of a 40% off coupon, probably to buy a CD of hoedown calls and Alps yodeling. It’s not something I would normally listen to, but you can’t beat that price.
And then, of course, I’ll be having hot dog soup for dinner.