Have you ever come to a realization that left you absolutely gobsmacked? History is full of such events, but I’ve always been a little vague on the details with my own realizations, until it recently happened to me with startling clarity. This was nothing cataclysmic but it was an eye-opener when I suddenly realized that after years of working, years of adventures far and near and simply by being alive for sixty-plus years, I finally have enough stuff. Point in fact; I have more than enough of some things and just enough of others. Anything that I don’t have would fall into the category of something of which I am desirous, not something that I need. This point was driven home during a recent trip to Kohl’s.
Kohl’s is a department store that will give people cash vouchers every once in a while when things are purchased, and Mrs. G. had a ten-dollar voucher that was hours away from expiring. I still haven’t figured out what one has to do when to get this voucher, but as far as I can tell, all that’s required is to spend fifty dollars on one item or a bunch of items and then listen to the official Kohl’s Cashing Out Dialogue from the cashier. This is always given politely and cheerfully, but is still right up there with listening to a time-share sales pitch:
Cashier: You’ve just saved three hundred and forty seven dollars today, which means you get some Kohl’s cash.
Me: But I only spent fifty-five dollars on a pair of jeans and a shirt. How did I save almost seven times that amount?
Cashier: Those items were marked down. See? I circled the amount you saved. If you go online and complete the survey, you could win one THOUSAND dollars!
Me: Which would be worth seven thousand dollars at Kohl’s? I’m confused. Just how much is a pair of Levi’s if they are full price?
Cashier: I don’t know but see? It says right here that you saved three hundred and forty seven dollars, and if you open a Kohl’s charge right now, you’ll save an additional ten percent.
Me: I don’t see how I can pass that up. Allow me to hold up the rest of the line while I fill out the necessary forms.
I have no idea how math works on a good day, but one trip into Kohl’s was enough to make me wonder why banks are even around anymore. If one shops at Kohl’s, one can not only leave with stuff, but also with more cash that one had in the first place.
Anyway, Mrs. G. had a ten-dollar Kohl’s cash voucher and it expired the next day, so she had to spend it or lose it, and if there is one thing my wife hates, it’s losing something she could have gotten for free with a coupon. We have a dresser upstairs with no less than two hundred pairs of Victoria’s Secret underpants which are still in the bag because Victoria’s Secret sends her coupons for free underwear. Those panties will decompose before anyone uses them but they were free—minus the gas and time it took to get there and back, but free isn’t very detail oriented.
My thinking on the Kohl’s cash was that this was fine since we were driving by the store anyway, but not a penny more or Kohl’s wins. I pulled in, parked the car and we went inside to begin our search for something we could use that was under ten dollars.
There was nothing, and I mean nothing. I was all set to hand the voucher to someone and quietly walk away, leaving them to wonder who that kind fellow was who could hand out ten-dollar coupons with such abandon.
Mrs. G. was more determined than I, so she began looking for a kitchen funnel because there have been exactly four times in thirty-two years where we needed to execute precise decanting in the kitchen, but they didn’t have one. I came up with the idea of a bottlebrush so that I could clean out our hummingbird feeders, but they didn’t have one of those either, so I guess I’ll just keeping using the one we already have. Wait—I wasn’t supposed to say that.
Then I saw this thing called a Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Slicer/Cutter, which slices up cylindrical vegetables such as cucumbers or carrots into thin strips. We ate at a restaurant not too long ago where the chef had julienned a cucumber into a delicious garnish and placed it on a piece of salmon. I thought that was great. “Man, I could make all kinds of things with this.” I considered, before I realized that it was slightly over ten dollars but more importantly, I would never use it more than once. That went back on the shelf.
I could sense that my wife was getting annoyed with me. This happened because the only way I will go into a store is if I know what I want, so wandering around aimlessly while looking for something on which to spend ten faux dollars was killing me. Besides, anything that I truly want costs a lot more than ten dollars—a nice convertible, a fancy new camera lens, and a vacation to Fiji come to mind. These are things I will never buy but would love to have given to me. Ten bucks in Kohl’s cash wasn’t working because there was nothing at all in that store that I needed or wanted for that amount—and barely anything for more than that.
“They used to have towels that were nice for under ten dollars,” Mrs. G. lamented. This is true, and our linen closets are crammed full of them. One more might just collapse the shelves and besides—I recently made rags from one of the bath towels that my wife received as a bridal shower gift in 1982, so that one lasted quite a while. In thirty-two years, I’ll be over ninety. I doubt I’ll care too much about a threadbare towel when I’m ninety-one, so I’m pretty sure we have enough to last.
We left the store empty-handed when my wife graciously relented to my perturbed pacing, but she went up the next day and got a couple of “just in case” greeting cards that ended up in a box with the other “just in case” greeting cards. It was a good purchase though and if we stop buying any more cards, we may use up the ones we have while there is still a postal system left to deliver them.
I appreciate Mrs. G’s savvy use of free coupons so I can’t complain (too much anyway) but our house, our yard, our closets and our drawers are finally full. I can’t think of a single thing I need—at least not for ten dollars in Kohl’s cash—but if someone wants to toss me a voucher for dark blue Z4, I’d break the sound barrier to redeem that.