Monday, January 31, 2011

A Tightwad Speaks

Click here, then read.

My major choices for productive activity this past weekend were between cleaning and saving money. I could either dust my furniture, wash the windows inside and out, scrub the bird poop off the back patio, straighten up my desk area, tackle the filthy sliding glass door track, sweep out the garage…or, save money. Bird poop, save money. Filth, save money. I went with save money.

First I called Cox Communications, my so-called “friend in the digital age”. Any real friend would not take my money and promise me an array of music stations, then make the music freeze up all day, driving me batty. Audio interruptions were taking the easy out of my easy listening station; this had been going on for weeks, but I’d been too busy to complain. For that call I got a $16.72 courtesy refund and my cable box reset. Now Zamfir and Floyd Cramer (my work-at-home friends) can play uninterrupted.

Then I called AAA. Every so often they send me a letter in the mail saying that if I call and ask for a car insurance quote, they’ll send me a $10 Target gift card. What’s not to like about that? I’ve received three $10 Target gift cards from AAA in recent history, and still haven’t switched to them because I already get a smokin’ deal through State Farm. It’s kind of fun to call the nice representative and pretend that I’m really interested in switching to AAA, when in fact I already know they won’t be able to beat State Farm. Some people race their cars in the street or pit their babies against each other in beauty contests; I goad AAA into beating State Farm’s rates and laugh all the way to Target.

Next I pulled a gasoline receipt out of my purse and put it in a stamped envelope addressed to Shoppers Advantage, along with a rebate form. Sometime last year, I joined the Shoppers Advantage Discount Program for a free trial period of 30 days and called back minutes after joining to quit, but not before I was 100% certain that their gasoline rebate forms would be mailed to my house. Now, every three months, I send in a gas receipt and get a gift card for $10 off my next purchase at any Shell station, for a total rebate of $40. All this for three minutes of membership footsie.

And I’m not a joiner, either. One of my grad school instructors used to say, “The only club I belong to is Price Club,” which was funny at the time, but not as funny when Price Club changed its name to Costco (sorry guy). Still, I do belong to Costco, and I went there yesterday to “shop” (is dragging a fifty pound box of printer paper across the floor and onto the bottom rack of your cart really “shopping”? Does one “shop” for a year’s worth of dish soap?). Before I entered the Sunday fray, I waited in line at Customer Service. When it was my turn, I pulled out a baggie in which I had saved the label and bar code from a large multi-pack of raw chicken tenders. Eight packs, to be specific.

“I’m not sure if you can help me,” I began, sliding the chicken-flecked baggie towards the frowning Customer Service lady, “but every single chicken tender in this entire package had a tendon running through it. Either it was a tendon or an empty artery, I don’t know, but whatever it was I had to cut it out of every single tender, which totally reduced the amount of good meat.” The woman wrinkled her nose at the idea that raw chicken wrapping was inside the baggy that she now held.

“It was like doing a biology lab in my kitchen every time I prepared one of these chicken packs,” I added. “I always ended up with a pile of raw chicken waste, sometimes with blood in it.” Before the Costco lady vomited, she credited my account for $17.10 and waved me on my way.

All told, I saved $53.82 this weekend that otherwise would have slipped through my fingers. And now that I have six months to a year’s worth of everything, I invite you all over to my well-stocked house. Lentil soup for everyone! Raisins for dessert! And if you help me scrub the bird poop off the patio, I’ll send you home with a brand new baggie.


  1. I met Floyd Cramer in Viginia Minn. in about 1986 - he was staying at the hotel where I worked; I cleaned tables in the restaurant. He was very nice. Quiet. A group of guys in his band ordered room service one night and I went upstairs, they were sitting around playing guitars and recording music. It was mildly cool. Floyd's dad toured with him then, he came down for lunch every day dressed in a cowboy hat and suit; he was always asking me about where he could go fishing. He was about 110-years old and I was afraid to tell him about any place off the beaten path for fear he'd die walking in. Anyhow.

    - Darrell Pendergrass

  2. Hey, who doesn't enjoy a good panflute during the work day?!

    Loved the chicken baggie/possible tendon bit. :-) Good for you for getting your money back!!