Monday, April 18, 2011
Well gang, not today for (and/or by) the extreme
There's a very good chance tonight is not going to be the night I post twice and have my makeup day. Somehow I have felt like I've been beaten with a bag of hammers all day. Perhaps this is because of residual effects of a Saturday spent behaving like a 20 year old, or because I spent a bit too much time last night watching programming on TLC and failed to go to bed early enough, but really, I am both super tired and consistently want to eat a meal one would obtain at Hoss's, a restaurant in Pittsburgh that involves usually ordering a meat product and then enjoying the salad bar while waiting for your meat to arrive. And yes. Yes there is a soft-serve machine involved at the end of the Hoss's line. Their tagline? Hoss's is Hoss-pitality!
Yeah, I liked it.
I'm actually not sure why we didn't go there more. It was fairly cheap for a family and really, everyone could get what they liked. And children ordering hot dogs would discover their name sliced into the hot dog when it arrived! A meat devotional! Who could ask for anything more?
Hot dogs are one of the items that you can apparently buy in bulk on sale if you're into extreme couponing. Which everybody on TLC's show "Extreme Couponing" most decidedly is. I just looked to see if I'd talked about this before, as it is super fascinating. Didn't I though? I think I did. It is so intense that I can't turn away. Like a train wreck where if you bought one storage car you'd get 50 more free for your train. Then that whole train blew up. It's that compelling, both in how much money these people save, and the absolute all-consuming devotion they have to couponing and the drive for saving. I mean, wow. And wow.
Last night's episode featured a set of twins who went about collecting all the free things they could on their shared birthday. One woman has like, two-years worth of diapers saved for a child she does not have. This paled in comparison to a gentleman who had built and a garage for storage of his stockpile, and then had to add onto it for the toothpaste, estimated at 51,000+ brushings, that he had saved up. He, by contrast to the as-yet-childless twin, had saved shelves of feminine hygiene products. Presumably she can see to it that she one day has a child, but that guy is probably not going to menstruate any time soon. Just my two cents.
There was also a sort of sad subtext like, ohhh boy, what if you never use those products? Eek.
(Also not sure why there isn't a dating component to the show, because this is absolutely a lifestyle, not a casual hobby for these folks, so it seems couponers would need each other to be fully understood and to flourish with a partner who shares the same lifestyle. And I believe my count for new shows I've pitched in this blog is now at 6 or 7. Haaa).
Anyway, while this show seems far less sinister in the voyeuristic pleasure of witnessing the obsessions of others play out in all consuming ways than say, watching someone about to be hospitalized for "bird lung" because they refuse to get rid of a single one of the 30 parrots that lives in their house and is slowly killing them, it's still extreme (as stated in the title). There is some excitement for their exploits. It's the American Dream to use the system to beat the system, and these are people doing just that - devoting their lives to doing just that. But what about if it doesn't work?
The guy with the toothpaste wall uses his good old fashioned American ingenuity with coupons to help support our troops. He makes care packages full of the stuff he gets for pennies or nothing at all by way of coupons. Really, it is nice of him to do. So imagine the stage being set for him to buy things on national television for our troops - what a moment of glory. Then imagine the stakes are raised because he's not going to the supermarket alone. No! This man is going with the woman who taught him everything he knows about couponing - his mother! His mother says he's a mathematics genius. She is beaming with pride at her son's achievements. He has calculated he'll only need $50 to pay for 2 separate orders at the store.
IMAGINE THIS MAN'S DISTRESS when he is, filmed on camera, in front of his shocked mother and sympathetic cashier, underestimating his overall total. It was cruel. He was mortified. Humiliated. And disbelieving that he could have so drastically miscalculated.
A flustered, sweating couponer saying "I have to use my debit card," with embarrassment and disbelief. At home I said, "He's going to hurt himself. This is terrible."
LUCKILY- resolution was a happy one.
There was a stack of coupons that somehow, in the midst of 75 cans of soup and 40 boxes of toothpaste on the conveyer belt, went un-cashed by the cashier. THERE was the answer. His couponing reputation - and budget - were saved. Humiliation - overthrown by pride. Cashier - apologetic. Mom - beaming again. Toothpaste guy - grinning like he brushed often.
Poor guy. A nice moment of redemption that showed just how intense this process is for those who do not like to pay retail. Ever.
And hey, God bless 'em and their savings! I just wonder if couponer's thumb will become a repetitive motion injury syndrome among couponers. Annnnd I should probably buy a couponer dating website domain name and go ahead and make some money there, and some people happy. One way to get people to join?
Coupon. I'll guess a coupon might work.