My husband RJ pushed our grocery cart into checkout lane eight at Wal-Mart. The couple in front of us asked to be let out of line. We said, sure, no problem and thought, great, we’re next in line after the lady checking out.
After the couple in front of us left to preserve their sanity, we saw the woman had a huge—no, make that colossal amount of groceries. We decided to stay in line because she was three-quarters of the way checked out. The wait couldn’t be that bad.
The selection and amount of items remaining on the conveyer belt and in her cart—she had three—were odd. I whispered to RJ, “Do you think she’s shopping for a girl’s group home?”
RJ cupped his hand over his ear and said, “What?” (Forty years of drumming takes its toll.)
I sidled around our cart and grabbed a Flea Market Gardens magazine off the rack. “I said, do you think she’s buying for a girl’s home?”
“Maybe or maybe she’s donating to a shelter.”
Ten minutes later I put the Flea Market Gardens magazine back and picked up the current issue of Glamour to read an article on actress Jennifer Lawrence. RJ was squeezing the handle of our cart so it didn’t accidently run over the woman.
I finished the article on Jennifer Lawrence and was debating what to read next when RJ said, “Oh, thank God, she’s paying.”
Or maybe not. She pulled three large binders full of coupons and advertisements from the bottom of her cart. One by one, she and the cashier went through the items she purchased. She quoted a sale price and provided a coupon for each. Occasionally the computer refused her coupon and she argued with the cashier.
My eyebrows migrated north to join my hairline. “She’s an extreme couponer!” (In the Ozarks it's grammatically acceptable to turn any noun into a verb.)
RJ said loudly, “Excuse me, but if you’re going to be much longer I’m taking my groceries off the belt.”
“I’m sorry,” the woman said insincerely. “It’s tough to feed a family of five.”
I hissed at RJ, “Especially when you feed your kids Lady Speed Stick deodorant and finger nail polish.”
“She has forty deodorants and at least thirty colors of fingernail polish. They love their frozen pizza and Hungry Man’s dinners."
Ten minutes later the unsmiling, argumenative super saver faced us (her purple shirt adorned with a glittering gold cross nearly blinded me) and said, “I’m sorry you have to wait but it’s a process.”
I wanted the store manager to process her to the parking lot when she came over to referee another coupon argument. I wasn’t surprised when a decision was made in favor of the most irritating person I’ve encountered while shopping. The look on the manager’s face made it clear she wanted this customer to quiet down and get out of her store.
Forty-five minutes after we entered the check-out line, the person who will brag to her friends about how much she saved, paid $34.96 for an order which originally totaled $742.85.
The exhausted cashier told us she always picked him. The store had three couponers like her who were equally argumentative. Other stores had changed their coupon policies but Wal-mart continued to take unlimited coupons while matching the lowest prices of other stores.
I asked him to explain how she reduced her total.
“Here's an example: Say our Lady Speed Stick normally costs $2.98. She brings in an ad for Walgreen’s sale price of .98 cents, which we honor. She also presents a coupon for a dollar off each Lady Speed Stick so she nets two cents per deodorant. She repeats the process and gets credits on nearly all the items purchased which whittled her total to less than five percent of the original cost.“
“There wasn’t any fresh, frozen or canned produce in her cart,” I said. “All the money she saves will be spent on medical bills.”
"If her kids are as overweight as she is, they might qualify for a family discount on diabetes meds.” (Bada boom boom for the drummer.)
The cashier shook his head. “And she advertises she’s a Christian.”
Christian-Smistian. Apparently she forgot one of the Ten Commandments—the one about taking stuff that doesn’t belong to you.
Extreme couponers like this woman aren’t saving; they’re stealing. She isn’t a fanatic coupon clipper because she can't feed her family...she didn't use food stamps. It's not illegal to feed your family frozen pizza for a year because you finagled it for free, but making money off coupons is trespassing over moral grounds. If it wasn’t, we’d all carry binders filled with coupons and consequently, stores would go out of business if they didn’t kibosh coupons faster than a woman can throw forty deodorants in her cart.
Causes Jules Jacob Supports
CASA of Southwest Missouri, Master Gardeners of the Ozarks, University of Missouri Master Gardeners, Missouri Court Appointed Special Advocates Association...