must confess, the Dowbrigade is a sucker for a good coupon. A few years
ago, when we were trying to feed two hungry teenagers
on a teacher’s salary, we assiduously clipped coupons for our weekly
trip to the super. The thrill we got from a "triple hit" (doubled manufacturer’s
coupon plus store coupon discount) rivaled the thrills we had gotten
years earlier from other kinds of "triple hits".
Although we are no longer obsessive about our coupons, we couldn’t resist
the offer at our local Star Market of a FREE TURKEY! All we had to do
was collect 20 "coins", which were stamps on the coupon representing
$25 spent at Star (excluding liquor, cigarettes, cash back, money orders,
paper products, hardware and drugs)! The check-out lady explained that
we didn’t have to bring in the coupon every time, just save all our receipts
and bring them in when we claimed the turkey. And we had a full four
weeks to do it in. Piece of cake.
So over the past month we have carefully saved every last Star receipt,
even when we just popped in to the salad bar or sushi counter for a quick lunch between
classes. In order to make sure we reached the critical level, we stocked
up on staples. Norma Yvonne did wonder where we would store a gross of
italian crushed tomatoes and a year’s supply of Polish dill pickles.
We also felt empowered to purchase a number of items we have long
longed to try, but were unable to justify the expense of, like apricot chutney
and Extra Sacrificial Virgin Olive Oil.
Today we gathered all our receipts together, some crumpled, some stained, but all legible, over $600 worth by Norma’s count,
and took them in to claim our prize. The lady at the customer service
counter who took our request looked like the Bride of Frankenstein on
a bad hair day. She was further frazzled by having just had to hassle
with a legally blind woman who was trying to rent a floor polisher (who
knew?) but didn’t have the requisite driver’s licence to show as security
because she was, well, legally blind.
When we finally got to the counter and presented our receipts, Mrs. Frankenstein
snatched them from our hand, ogled them with a jaundiced eyes and intoned
in an infinitely bored voice, "You’ll have to wait.. This
may take a while."
We settled in for a long wait, but she started right in on
them. Actually, she started ripping off and discarding a good number
of them, mumbling, "This one’s no good. This one doesn’t count. Can’t
use this one.."
"Wait one gosh darn minute," we cried, "What’s wrong with all of those?"
"Anything less than $25 doesn’t count. The coupon clearly
says that you must spend at least $25 dollars ON EACH PURCHASE."
We looked at our coupon. Damned if it didn’t say that, in tiny
print, on the back. Furthermore, if we spent $48, say, we would
only get credit for one $25 "coin". We could earn this currency, it seemed,
only in $25 increments.
We protested that the checkout lady who gave us the coupon had mentioned
nothing of these catches. To no avail. There it was, in green and
white, on the back of the coupon.
Finally, she finished her work, looked up from her adding machine with
a triumphant smile and pronounced, "$475. You’re one coin
"Well, well, wait here a minute, we’ll go buy some more staples or exotic
oils, and get that last coin! You sell Krispy Kreme Donuts now! We’ll take 4 dozen!"
"Sorry, the promotion ended yesterday, receipts from today don’t count."
We were stymied, flummoxed and frustrated. We demanded a recount. As
a last resort, we demanded to speak to a manager. By this point
we were a bit agitated, in fact had worked ourselves into something
of an indignant dither. Frankenstein or no, challenging our primacy
as a food forager for our family had awakened deep ancestral survival
instincts, and the clerk seemed to recognize that there could be an element
of personal danger in he situation. She went to fetch the manager.
They were couched in whispered conversation for several long minutes. Then,
finally, a beaming assistant manager stepped quickly to the counter and
handed us our Free Turkey Coupon. "Thanks for shopping at Star," she
We can’t wait to tell the story as we carve the fat, free fowl on Thursday. But,
just to be on the safe side, we have decided to cash in the coupon and
select the Turkey from a different branch of the Star Market chain.