Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Extreme Curmudgeonly Complaining

What is it that we all can't just enjoy a nice little perk without going overboard and screwing it up for everybody? Why, why, why must we indulge in being the "-est" in every activity required to live: best, hottest, biggest, fastest...

Whenever you see the word "extreme" before an activity, it won't be long before said activity will be outlawed, regulated, or we'll all be forced to wear silly gear in order to perform it -- because just riding a bike isn't enough for some people; they have to flip is and twirl it and jump over stuff with it and now to ride a bike you look like you're entering a jousting match against the Black Knight.

That was what I was thinking when I read about what is being called "extreme couponing."

For decades there have been stories of couponing women who could pull off a free basket of groceries with their coupons. I'll admit, I love me a good coupon. Nothing tickles me more than to layer a double coupon onto a BOGO -- such little glitches are God's way of patting you on the back and saying, "Thanks for fighting the good fight. Here. Have a stick of Suave deodorant on Me." And I say, "Thank you, God" and be on my way. I smell better, the store gets its money, Suave gets its money and no one gets hurt.

Usually I found most coupons were for things I didn't use -- junk food, prepared foods, specialty foods, brand-name cleaning products (white vinegar, baking soda, Lysol in a gallon jug and Clorox -- all you need). From what I understand, there are coupons out there for staples like sugar or flour. I haven't come across them but, then, one of the other requirements I have for dealing with coupons is that it shouldn't take me more than a half hour to prepare to go grocery shopping -- I'm fulfilling a basic household chore, not composing my life's work.

Unfortunately, the "extremists" may ruin it for the rest of us. Stores have already begun limiting the amount of coupons a customer can use with one order. This will lead to a single customer breaking their order up into several smaller orders, complicating things further until stores will have no choice but to eliminate coupons altogether.

Stores have to wait for the coupon money they deduct from your total bill -- their vendor is in no hurry to get them their cash back (not to mention the value of the float). Sisiggy cashing in her $1 Suave coupon is one thing -- even if 15 Sisiggys cash in 15 coupons. However, multiply by 15 these women claiming to get a $300 grocery order for free and you've got a serious cash flow problem.

Believe me, nothing appeals to my "threat of nuclear holocaust" obsession more than a basement pantry lined with canned goods (okay...I admit...mine are lined with goods I canned myself -- and a spare pair of glasses). But I keep myself in check -- I recognize how easily this can become one of those compulsions inspiring yet another cable reality show ("In the Bunker: Extreme Nuclear Holocaust Hoarders"). I don't even approach my mother's dried bean hoarding (my father used to say the beans would work on two levels -- we'd no one would want to be around us to take our stuff).

The thing is, the amounts of the same product you end up with when "extreme couponing" can only be justified through a window of a major national, political and social disaster -- all at once. No one knows more than me the comfort in such an inventory -- my first memory of being in a church was during the Cuban Missile Crisis; but even I recognize such an expectation of doom is just bad karma all around.

So, like walking Zsas around Lowes and letting the wind blow through my hair as I ride my bike without a helmet, the kismet of a free tube of mascara for trying out the store brand eye cream is probably a thing of the past.

Let's hope no one decides to be an "Extreme Library Patron."

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