Maybe it's a reaction to something in my past life. I don't mean when I might have been a peasant in 18th century Ireland. I mean when I was sixteen and worked as a supermarket cashier and somebody would come on my line with fifty items and fifty-three coupons: A third of which were legit, a third of which were expired, a third of which were for products not sold in that state, let alone the store. Whatever the cause... I'm just not a coupon person. I know... A lot of you must be thinking: "How lucky that you never needed to use coupons." No, no... Don't get me wrong. (Or like they say on Maury: "Don't get me twisted"): I never said I didn't need to use coupons. In fact, that's how I knew I really hated coupons. When you're flat broke and the free local paper is laying there on your driveway and you pick it up and see it's packed with coupons and you still say:
"Na, I can't be bothered."
That's how you really know you hate coupons. Whenever I've ever taken one to the store, I can't think of anything else. As I'm parking the car, getting out of the car, walking into the store, getting the shopping cart, I keep repeating my angst-filled mantra:
"Don't forget to use the coupon. Don't forget to use the coupon. Don't forget to use the coupon."
When I finally get to the aisle where the item is, I'm already sweating and breathing heavily like I'm having a totally unnatural reaction to the stubbly guy with the dolly and the fuzzy butt crack who's stocking the shelf.
Then I have to take out the coupon to read it. Then I look at the item. Read the coupon again and look at the item in my hand again: "Nabisco" "Nabisco" "12 ounces" "12 ounces" "Any Fruit Variety" "Mixed Fruit". I'm still so paranoid I'm taking the wrong item, I need validation:
"Excuse me Sir, 'Mixed Fruit' counts as 'Any Fruit Variety' doesn't it? I mean: 'Mixed Fruit isn't technically a fruit, but it's a mix of fruits that are all fruits. Right? Or maybe I should just take 'Strawberry' to be sure, even though I'd really rather have 'Mixed Fruit.'"
He doesn't work for the store. He doesn't even work for Nabisco. So he ignores me and keeps stocking bread on the bottom shelf and now I'm not only stressed out over the coupon but I'm dying to yell: "And pull up your Gd damn pants!" And run out of the aisle.
So at about 63% sure that I took the correct item, I continue along my merry way to finish my shopping, checking the coupon another three or four times to re-confirm and re-re-confirm that: 1) It didn't expire 2) It wasn't void in my state 3) I didn't have to buy two to use the coupon 4) I didn't drop it somewhere in the store as a result of taking it in and out of my purse so many times. (Once or twice I actually have had to retrace my steps to retrieve it from the floor of an earlier aisle.)
Finally, I'm at the check out and almost home free. (If you're familiar with the Brady Bunch, at this point I'm feeling like the boys did when they were trying to get rid of the bad luck idol in Hawaii)...
And here comes the biggest challenge of all for me: I have to remember to give the cashier the coupon. Having cleared that hurdle, I hold my breath while they scrutinize it. Whew. It seems to have passed inspection. So, I saw the cashier pick it up at the beginning of my check-out experience, now I exhale and then hold my breath again, hoping they remember to pick it up again and actually take it off my bill at the end of my check-out experience. And what if it doesn't scan because there's too much of my hand sweat on the bar code? And what if they can't manually enter in the numbers? And what if the manager finally comes over and they can't do it either and what if... oh, it scanned on the first try... okay, good.
Once I forgot to hand it to the cashier until she was done with the order and she said cheerily: "That's okay. Use it next time." I looked at her like she'd lost her mind.
"Next time?! I can't go through all this again! I just...... can't."
I will say, not to pat myself on the back, but I have come a long way in the coupon world: I no longer freak out when people pronounce "coupon" wrong. I won't even boast by telling you which way is wrong. It must be a sign of maturity.