Off The Beaten Path: They’re MY Perks, Dang It!
Back in the “good old days,” 30 years ago, my spouse and I were newlyweds and we were in that happy and madly in love mode. We were very young and money was tight. Our weekly grocery budget was around $25.00 and that included buying food for 3 dogs and 1 cat. We did the grocery shopping together every week, tallying up the prices of everything put into our cart to make sure that we didn’t exceed our meager budget.
I hated shopping with him. I am not a team player – GASP! I like to work – and shop – alone! I started doing the grocery shopping on the nights when he had to work late. It worked out great and I was a happy lady. Oh I did shop with our kids but that was somehow different.
Our local grocery store implemented one of those “fuel perks” programs a couple of years ago – you received 10¢ off a gallon of gas for every $50 you spent. You get bonuses for buying gift cards. Last year, they added a new program where you earned “food perks”, 1% for every 10 gallons of gas purchased with a maximum of 20% that you could redeem at one time with a ceiling of $300. I admit it, I was in hog heaven. We buy a lot of gas and the perks would just stack up in no time at all. I would then make my way merrily into the store, grab a cart and get me some free “Happy Pam Food.” Life was good.
One evening, as I was carrying in my bags of loot and gluttony, I made the mistake of telling my husband about the “food perks.” He was all over that fact like a flea on a dog. He started quizzing me weekly on the balance of our food perks and when it hit that magic number of 20%; he was in the SUV and headed with me to the grocery store. I was not a happy camper. I AM NOT A TEAM PLAYER, PEOPLE! Give me space, lots of space, don’t fence me in. More importantly – don’t take my food perks!
He took the food perks. He tossed shrimp and tuna steaks and salmon into the cart with abandon. He got fancy little red tomatoes and gourmet salad dressing. Not one, not two but FIVE bags of pretzels were added to his stash. He used up that $60 worth of free food in not time flat. I looked forlornly at the Little Debbie rack. I reached out and touched the Nutty Buddy boxes lovingly. I turned my head because I could not bear to see the Pop Tarts and not scoop them up and take them home with me.
It gets worse. I had to share a cart with my man. I did put my foot down and insisted on pushing the cart through the store. I am like Speedy Gonzales in the grocery store – he is not. He meanders up and down each and every aisle. He reads labels. It takes him 10 minutes to pick out a can of soup. He drives me up the wall. He jacks up the cost of our grocery bill, immensely! I get frustrated and leave him in the dust. Somehow he always manages to find me, his arms full of bagels and cream cheese and brats and spicy spaghetti sauce.
We entertain the employees and other shoppers with our bickering and snipping at each other. They seem amused. Hey, it is cheap entertainment!
Sadly our store discontinued the food perks last month. I thought that life would return to normal and I would resume my exclusive shopping privileges but I was wrong. Last week I went to do the shopping and my dear, darling spouse was right there with me. I rebelled and bought 3 kinds of ice cream. A lady needs a perk every now and then and hey, it was cheaper than 3 pairs of shoes. At least Gunny was happy. Methinks I shall starting sneaking to the grocery store on the nights when he works late!