I'm not a coupon person. My lovely (and dangerous) wife definitely is. She can find them in the newspaper, or load her store card digitally with money saving coupons on items she intends to purchase, and end up saving us a lot of money every time she goes shopping. On those rare occasions when I've been asked to carry a couple of coupons on one of my solo trips to the grocery store, I always end up grabbing the wrong item and paying full price. On one memorable occasion I managed to pick up the wrong items three out of three times, thus negating the handy-dandy "Buy One Get One Free" bargains she had in mind when I was sent to Publix. She took the receipt and my bag of errors back to the customer service desk, and managed to get a refund of over $25. I'm surprised her eyes didn't roll completely out of socket that day.
In my defense, it's easy to confuse items if their only distinguishing information is that one is "heart healthy", or "sodium free", or "bland as a sandpaper sandwich". You have to grab the EXACT ITEM LISTED ON THE COUPON, not the one next to it that's cleverly disguised as the thing you're looking for... And I'm not a guy who likes to stand in front of a rack of tomato paste carefully deciphering content labels, while a lady with three screaming urchins pushes her shopping cart over my foot.
But this is a new day, and hope springs eternal. Or it did.
On my way back from another clusterfuck I won't bother to go into (fodder for another rant...) I remembered that my wife and I have been invited to accompany friends of ours to this Sunday's Tennessee Titans game against the Cowboys. We don't usually attend the games, but always watch them together during football season. So this is a rare treat for us... to actually go to LP Field for a game, fight through the traffic and the crowds, pay $8 for warm, watered down domestic beer, sit through interminable commercial timeout delays in the midday sun, and then fight through the crowds and traffic to get back home? We can't wait!
But while I own and proudly wear many different shirts adorned with the Titans logo, I'm not sure my wife's wardrobe has anything "stadium worthy" for her to wear to the game. On my drive back from the aforementioned CF, I remembered having been given a COUPON worth $22.20 at any Sears store. We had purchased a gas grill in the spring, and apparently our purchase warranted this generous coupon to spend on any product Sears had in stock. I was passing that very same Sears store when this occurred to me, and I also remembered that Sears stocks women's clothing. She needs a nice Titans shirt, Sears sells nice Titans shirts, and I have this wonderful COUPON worth $22.20. What could possibly go wrong?
I don't know when Sears hired all of the people from the community center's Club Geritol, but everyone working in that place today was pushing the limits of any life insurance salesman's actuarial tables. Everywhere I turned I was greeted by befuddled Wilford Brimleys and Jessica Tandys... people who seemed nice, but (on the whole) knew nothing whatsoever about their employer's store or the products therein. Asking for help in my efforts to find women's Titans gear, I was twice told (by different people) to just keep looking, because they "move everything around so much" it was impossible to know where anything actually was at any given moment. Seriously. Same response. Twice. Wilford and Jessica and the rest of the cast of "Cocoon" pointing me in various directions.
I finally found a size medium Titans shirt in the men's section of the store that looked stylish enough, and at that point I began my search for a working register.
"Sorry, young feller, this register's only for appliances..." said one gentleman.
"I'm sorry, son... the clerk who's supposed to be at this register has gone somewhere..." said another fellow, looking around as if he'd lost his car in the parking lot.
I just kept walking around until I found a clerk actually ringing up another customer's items. There was a problem with the scanner. And the customer was upset that her toddler clothing had rung up at a far higher price than what was advertised.. an additional 75 cents. They quibbled, and the clerk (a dead ringer for Aunt Clara from "Bewitched") insisted the price was correct. The customer (who was accompanied by a little girl who ought to be starring in "Poltergeist" if they ever do another remake) insisted the price was 75 cents too high. I got out a dollar and was fully prepared to pay the difference, but the customer agreed to pay this outrageous amount. She got her things, and I stepped up to Aunt Clara's counter, still relatively hopeful.
She took my wife's shirt (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!) and flashed the tag with her handheld scanner. It did an ominous double bonk, akin to that annoying noise they use for scene changes in "Law and Order" reruns.
"This didn't scan." she announced. "Were there any more of these where you found this one?"
"Quite a few." I said.
"Where did you find this?" she asked.
Sensing the inevitable snag, I replied, "I have no idea. Way the hell over that direction..."
She tried the scanner again. Bonk bonk. Scene change. With that she turned and called out, "Jerry?" at Wilford Brimley in appliances.
As he moseyed up, she asked, "What do you do if the scanner doesn't accept the tag?"
"Well, you key in this number right here..." said Wilford/Jerry.
She glanced at the end of his pointing finger, then said, "Well I can't read THAT..."
So Wil/Jerry read it aloud to her, at arm's length, while she keyed in the digits.
It didn't bonk bonk. Progress. She looked very pleased, and said, "Your coupon is worth $20."
I pointed out that the coupon itself read $22.20. She insisted it was only good for $20. I remembered how annoyed I had been when the last lady quibbled over 75 cents, so I told her to just ring it up, and I'd happily pay the difference.
So she punched a couple of keys, and we all heard the bonk bonk noise again. I looked at my feet, and tried to remember what that anger management guy had said about slow, deep breaths.
"This coupon won't work unless you have a Sears card, apparently." was the next thing out of Aunt Clara's mouth. "Do you have a Sears card?"
"No, ma'am. I don't."
"You want one? I've got an application form right here..." she dug through some paper to find an application for me.
"No ma'am. I don't want to fill out an application for a card. I just want to use this coupon to purchase that shirt. That's all I want."
"Well, it says here you need to put in your Sears card information. Maybe if you keyed in your zip code it would work. Try that." she offered.
So I keyed in my zip code. Twice. Bonk bonk, both times.
"You're gonna have to have a Sears card if you want to use this coupon, I guess." she said, finally.
I left the shirt on the counter and walked away. I may have uttered a few wordy derds on my way out, because I remember at least two geriatrics turning to watch me leave.
I don't coupon well, obviously.