Sunday Stealing: The End Is Near, Parte Dos
Aloha Friday

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Such has been said to and about me before by someone close to our family in a negative way, and it has stuck in my head ever since, but tonight I'm going to relay a story that is not meant to toot my own horn but rather share how it got turned around into a positive saying for me this evening. Here it goes:

You all know how I am a crazy coupon lady and do my wicked-awesome deal shopping at the drugstores week in and week out, right? In Virginia Beach, I used to rotate which stores I went to for the Big Three (CVS, Rite Aid & Walgreens), because the customer service was just "meh" at all of them anyway, and I hated to bother the clerks with my stacks of money-saving coupons routinely. Here, though, now that we've moved to Portsmouth, I've found wonderful customer service employees at all three stores and am loyal to one store for each one. And so I return, sometimes several times a week, to do my deals with these lovely folks who have come to know me as a fair and honest couponer trying to do her best to save a buck and put food on the table for three kids.

That being said, there was this crazy glitch with the Wellness Rewards program at Rite Aid, where I was supposed to get a $10 +UP coupon back, and it wouldn't print out no matter what I purchased. (I decided not to blog about my deals anymore, incidentally, due to lack of interest except on the part of Yours Truly! You can thank me later.) I finally called Corporate this morning and asked what items, specifically, qualified for the $10 reward to print. They gave me an extensive list of items that were supposedly part of the offer.

So this morning, I did three different transactions, purchasing some of those brands, and the dang $10 +UP still didn't print for me. Fortunately, I had coupons so my OOP (out-of-pocket, you'll remember) expense was minimal, and I'll use the items, but it was frustrating!

My day proceeded with teaching the children, taking them to their music lessons, and then coming home for a nap, so it wasn't until this evening at 9 PM - an hour before the store closed - that I remembered that $10 deal was ending tonight and I had one more chance to make it work. I called Corporate again to see if I could get that list one more time, but they were closed already. So I gathered up a few more coupons for some different brands that were mentioned this morning, and headed back over.

First transaction, no dice. Argh! What the heck?! I asked the cashier if she had any idea what products were supposed to generate the coupon, since corporate didn't know and the manager on Sunday didn't know, either. She had no idea, so she asked the manager on duty, who is well aware of me and my couponing and is a couponer herself. She didn't know, either, so she went to the office to do some research while I tried another set of products.

Second transaction, still no dice. Bah! Now I was both frustrated and, oddly, entertained. It was like a challenge to me, now. Nothing in the ad gave a clue to what would generate the reward, and the manager and I walked the store to try and figure it out. We couldn't, so I tried one last-ditch effort and bought something totally off-the-wall, yet still useable for our family, to try and generate that $10 coupon. (Keep in mind that my total OOP for all of this was still less than a buck, so it's not like I was throwing good money after bad, here.)

Third transaction was a repeat: nothing. I gave up! But the manager wouldn't let me leave empty-handed and took pity on me, though I asked nothing of her. She said she hated to see me buying all this stuff, spending "all this money" (which I really wasn't, but okay), and not getting my $10 coupon. She did some tippy-typing in her computer and ended up handing me the ten dollars in cash. She was so frustrated that she couldn't help me make it work, but I didn't want to take it and risk getting her in trouble! She insisted, so I accepted it, signed her sheet, thanked her a bunch, and left the store satisfied. Still mystified, but whatevs.

After that, I drove the half-block around the corner to my 7-11 to refill my giant keg of Diet Coke. There are always homeless men there, hitting me up for money, but I never carry cash. Never.

After I came out of the store from buying my refill, a large man I'd never seen there before came up to me with hunger in his eyes and a handful of change in his outstretched hand. "Excuse me, pretty lady," he said, "can you spare 37¢? I'm trying to get a hot dog."

I totally forgot about the ten-spot I had in my purse, so I told him that the most I could give him was a few pennies. I reached around in my coin pocket and fished out about a dozen pennies, handing them over with my apologies. He thanked me, and then he asked me, "If I give you this money, would you buy me the hot dog, ma'am?" I thought about it for a half-second, if that, before I agreed.

"Are you very hungry?" I asked him. He said yes'm, he sure was. I brought him into the store and asked him what he wanted. He said he would get whatever I would let him get. I told him to get two hot dogs, then, because they were cheaper for two than for a single one.

"Do you mind if I get a small hoagie then, instead?" he asked. Since it was about the same price, I told him to go ahead. He ran over, held up the hoagie, and I nodded. He rushed back into the line with me. After a few moments, he said, "What's your name?" I told him, nicely, "You don't need to know my name." He said, "Okay, I understand, I just wanted to pray for you and say 'God bless you,' and thank you." I told him he was welcome, and then he asked if he could get a Gatorade, too. I told him to go ahead, and he ran over to the drink coolers.

In a moment, he was back, holding up a bottle of 7-Eleven-brand water. "I wanted to get the cheapest thing, ma'am," he told me. I said it was fine if he wanted Gatorade, but he was sticking with the water.

The line was long, so we had to wait yet. After another minute, he piped up again: "Miss, do you mind if I get a back of chips to go with my hoagie?" I was amused, now, because I could tell he thought I was more well-off than I really am and was taking advantage, but his eyes... they were hungry, so I told him to get something that was 99¢ and pointed out all of the options in case he couldn't read. There were plenty, so he selected something and was finally content.

At last, it was our turn at the register. In a booming voice that embarrassed me, he told the cashier and pretty much the whole store that "my new friend here" was buying him dinner. The cashier was new to the store, not one that knows me yet, and she said she didn't believe him. He insisted he'd just met me, and she still didn't believe him. I didn't care either way, but I told her it was true to be supportive of him. She laughed and said, "Sure." Whatever that's about!

I put the receipt in his bag and told him to have a good night. I walked past Q, the other cashier I'm friendly with, and he called out to me, "That was really nice of you!" I smiled at him.

The homeless man then came rushing up to me and said, "Let me walk you out to your car, miss. It's the least I can do." I told him I was right outside and that it wasn't necessary. He was firm, so I let him walk me to the van door. He opened the door for me and leaned in as I was getting in, saying, "God bless you, ma'am. Drive home safely and make sure you wear your seatbelt."

I was touched by his words and smiled at him. I said, "Have a good night, sir. It will get better." He nodded and replied, "I know it will, now. Come here and give me a hug!" I'm a hugger, myself, so I had no problem with that. I let him hug me, and he was sweaty and a little smelly, but I didn't mind. He probably hadn't been able to shower for a while, and today was hot. Inwardly, I wished there was more I could do. I told him good-night, again, and he reiterated to me to drive safely and wear my seatbelt. With that, I smiled and shut the door, driving home the three blocks to our house.

I smiled to myself the whole way home, thinking, one good turn deserves another. And then, when I was pulling up into the driveway, I remembered the unexpected $10 bill I'd gotten at Rite Aid and the three other hungry men who looked at me forlornly when I walked out of the store with the one man I helped. Our larder is quite full to bursting right now, thank God, so now that I've shared this story with you, I'm heading back to go feed the rest of the men some hot dogs with my ten bucks. I can't stand the thought of hungry bellies when it would take so little from me to help.

Why yes, yes I am a hippie tree-hugger librul. And I hope to stay that way. Have a good night. I will.