Friday, March 16, 2007

A Redeeming Supermarket Visit

I've been bringing so much free food home from work that I haven't been to a supermarket in two weeks. I decided to stop at Tesco on the way home from work, today, because I needed squash and ketchup. I'd received my Tesco Clubcard vouchers in the post, so I wanted to redeem them. I had a voucher for £2 off my shopping bill. They also sent me several offers, as they tend to do. I think they monitor my purchases and send me vouchers aimed at the things I tend to buy. I was able to use half of them. They gave me a voucher for a free Tesco "bag for life." No, it's not some magic bag that you can use to save your life if you get sick or injured. That would be handy, wouldn't it? It's another of these greenish ideas. It's a reusable bag for your shopping, with handles. so you don't need their disposable carrier bags. Normally, they sell them for ten Pence. I guess they've figured that I am never going to pay ten Pence for a shopping bag, so long as they give me free disposable carrier bags. If they can lure me to use the "bag for life," I suppose it will save Tesco money on free carrier bags.
Another voucher was for a chance to win a bunch of Clubcard points. 1,000, or 10,000, or 100,000, I don't remember which. I always redeem that, not that I ever win, but it costs nothing and you never know. Then there was this voucher for half off a box of Orville Reddenbacher's microwave popcorn. I can always use popcorn. Walking the aisles of the store, I soon realized I would have trouble having enough in purchases to equal the £2 off I was trying to redeem. I needed cole slaw, so I got a container of that. I bought four bottles of apple and blackcurrant squash. Most folks in America aren't going to know what squash is. In America, when someone says "squash," we tend to think of a vegetable (in reality it's a fruit), a member of the gourd family and related to pumpkins. Here in the UK, squash is a drink concentrate. It's fruit flavored and you add water to it to make a drink.
As I was wandering around in the store, I saw a woman going in the opposite direction. She wasn't bad looking, so my attention was drawn. Close behind her followed a shopping trolley (a kart, in America) and pushing the trolley was a little boy dressed in a superman costume. I wonder if the boy was a relation of hers, or did she hire him? I contemplated buying some microwaveable rice. They are a good back-up for when I don't feel like waiting for rice to cook. I remembered that I had used a couple packets from my reserve, at home. I could do with replacing them, but when I looked over the prices, I didn't like what I saw. The cheapest on display would have cost me a minimum of two quid and that would put me quite a bit over my target spend. There was no sense buying stuff just for the sake of buying it. Besides, I have seen rice like that cheaper, before. I decided to buy four packets of ramen noodles, instead. At eight Pence each, they would help make sure I was over the £2 without pushing me way over and I was sure I was low on my supply of them at home. I almost forgot to get ketchup and I really needed that.
Once I had acquired a bottle of the cheapest ketchup, I looked for a checkout counter. They all looked busy and most had several people waiting in line. What was going on? It was before 5PM, so why was it so crowded? On Sunday, it's Mother's day, here in Britain, so maybe that was the reason. Strolling down the lane by the checkouts, moving in the direction towards where my car was parked, I passed a little boy wearing a Power Rangers costume. Another boy in a costume? What the heck? It wasn't Halloween, was it? No, Halloween is at the end of October, this is mid March. I later learned that as it's "Red Nose Day," many schools let kids wear costumes to school for the day. Maybe they should have the kids dress like that all the time. How sad do you have to be as a kid to want to walk around in public, dressed as Superman or a Power Ranger, when it's not even Halloween? Surely I was never that much of a dork when I was a kid, was I? Red Nose Day, St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, and Mother's Day on Sunday...what a mad weekend!
I settled on a checkout line that looked relatively short. As I watched an older woman and a child slowly putting goods on the belt in front of me, I spotted a shorter line at the next counter. Quickly, I moved over one lane to take advantage, before some prowling old age pensioner got there first. It always seems to end up that the lane I pick moves slowest. There were two people ahead of me, but the woman at the front insisted on dividing her purchases into four piles and paying for each of them separately. Because of that, I wound up getting to the front no sooner than I would have if I had stayed where I was, originally. The cashier should have a button to eject muppets like her. When it was my turn, I handed the cashier all my vouchers. I took my free "bag for life" and packed it so all my purchases fit in the one bag. After my vouchers were deducted, my total bill came to...drum roll please...70 Pence. That's the equivalent of about $1.40. The first shop I had done in two weeks and I only spent 70 Pence. That must be a new record for me. I set off for home with a smug look of satisfaction on my face.

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