December 23, 2011

December 23, 2011

Extreme Couponing

It seems as if there’s a reality show for every slice of life these days, doesn’t it? Whether you collect things, sell things, restore things, bake cakes, eat cakes, or train seeing eye dogs, you can find a channel all about it. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I believe ‘twas the Romans who demanded bread, circuses, and the Dog Whisperer.

The best reality shows appeal not just to the people in “the community,” so to speak, but to the rest of us. I’ve never used a pawn shop, but I love Pawn Stars. I’m a renter who isn’t allowed to make home improvements, but I could watch HGTV from dawn to dusk. (While staring at my cream walls, as per the aforementioned ban on painting. Hmphf.)

Then I come upon the show Extreme Couponing, and I wonder why the robots haven’t already taken over and put an end to this nonsense.

Prima facie, Extreme Couponing has all the elements I love. Cheapness. Organization. Food. One could naturally assume that I’d find these extreme couponers delightful, as they buy $1200 of groceries for less than a dollar over the course of four hours. DELIGHTFUL!

Or not. Yes, I enjoy using coupons. Yes, I enjoy keeping my canned goods neat. Yes, I enjoy eating. But somehow, people like those on this program have made these behaviors grotesque.

Extreme couponers often buy a store’s entire supply of something when there’s a good deal. Maybe it’s buy-one-get-one-free on mouthwash. I go into Safeway, 50-cents-off coupon in hand, hoping to get two bottles. As I approach the aisle, I’m passed by a woman with two shopping carts containing a total of 96 bottles of mouthwash.

Look, lady. No one in their entire lifetime will use 96 bottles of mouthwash. Not even OCD tooth models. And now you have successfully screwed me over.

Extreme couponers often keep their purchases in meticulously organized shelving/storage, often referred to as a “stockpile.” Sometimes they’ll have store-like racks and hooks to display the merchandise. Especially useful when their friends and family members come over to “shop.” Despite this generosity, though, the stockpiles are usually quiet large.

If only there were a word for enjoying the misfortune of others, because that’s what I will feel when one of these stockpiles a) rots, b) expires, c) falls victim to flooding or other natural disaster, or d) is incinerated when the robots take over. Keep what you will use in the next 3 months, and donate the rest to charity. Our national debt could probably be erased if the value of our nation’s stockpiles were put back into circulation.

But my most intense disapproval is focused like a laser beam of judgment on extreme couponers at the checkout. Because they will readily admit that the checkout process takes hours. Plural. Just at the register. Often, the cashier will run out of receipt paper, or have to start a new transaction, or need a manager’s assistance.

I’m not annoyed for me, the girl who’s buying a bottle of salad dressing and a loaf of bread. I’m annoyed for the cashier who’s at her wits’ end trying to deduct your 800th coupon. I’m annoyed that they had to open a special register just for you. I’m annoyed that you thought shopping in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, would somehow make any of this more bearable.

So I guess it’s not so much the Extreme Couponing program itself I take issue with (though the manufactured drama is a bit much). It’s the behavior documented therein. Other countries teach their children physics. We teach them how to triple coupon.

1 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke:

Worth waiting for.

Initially, I was slightly impressed that the 'stars' could see a coupon in a circular and immediately recognize how to best leverage it to get something for free. I'm all about sneakiness and beating the system.

Then I was cautiously optimistic. I can see the attraction of FREE 200lbs of premium chicken breast. I could throw a party! I could find a '50 different ways to make chicken!' cookbook and work through it, feeding one of my domiciles for months. Still a bit excessive, but hey.

All that quickly faded. That wall they were filming 'star' against? With a few hunded bottles of Spray&Wash!? NOT A WAREHOUSE WALL! I don't care how hard you are on your clothes, it takes over a year to go through an industrial sized bottle of that stuff. You're now simply obtaining because it's free. It's some sort of sick competition in which you consume past bursting, past relationships, past any sort of sense.

Get free condiments for your next birthday party, cool. Get several hundred bottles of BBQ sauce free, you have a major problem, you have bought into the uber-consumerist mindset, and you need serious help.