I need sponges. Not antibacterial treated sponges. Not sponges attached to a handle with a battery operated foam dispensing system. Just a sponge. Not a brand name sponge with a little fat boy that never comes to my house to help wash dishes, with a copper surface. A sponge. A .99 cent sponge. Better yet, three sponges for .99 cents. I am off to the dollar store.
I head out to the dollar store up the street. On the way there I think of a few more things I ‘need’. A birthday card for Grandma, I could get that there. I need paper plates. They don’t offer the best quality there, but they are good enough for a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich my kid is going to mash up and throw on the floor anyway. I will pick those up too. Oh, I need to see if they have construction paper! Alright, I give myself a mental $10.00 budget. Off I go with my debit card in my sweaty palm.
As soon as I walk in, I get a rush. Wow. This is a big store. And all this is a dollar. Off in the distance I see a sign, “Kitchen”, thats where the sponges usually are. I haven’t been here in a while, but the card and gift wrap isle is just to my left. I will work my way around. I have twenty minutes to kill anyway before my dear husband calls to tell me, they baby is crying for you. It is like clockwork.
As I make my way to the first isle, I pass a cute little end cap display of coffee cups. “I love you”, “#1 Mom”, “#1 Dad”. How cute? Just a dollar, I grab a mom, and dad, for my parents, in-laws, and my husband, myself, and three loves for the kids. They don’t drink coffee, but, they do drink hot chocolate. Oh wait we don’t have any mix, I will get that here!
Damage: $9.00 Time : 5 minutes
I am finally in the first isle, I guess I won’t be able to stick to my budget, I still “need” a few more things. New budget, $25.00. Mission, birthday card for grandma. They are two for a dollar. Well, I may as well get one for so and so, but if I do that , I may as well…you see the pattern. I end up with $4.00 worth of birthday cards. But that is okay, because a hallmark card would have cost me about $4.00 for just one anyway, so I am “SAVING” money. Do you see this distorted thought process? I grab a pack of thank you cards, and sympathy cards, two large gift bags, and some tissue paper.
Damage thus far: $18.00 Time: 10 minutes (and I am within my new budget!)
All the excitement of saving money has me high. The next four isles are a blur, my cell is going to ring in a a few minutes. I have to hurry. On my way to the isle with the sponges, and paper plates, I pass the arts and crafts isle. Construction Paper! Oh cool, glitter, glue, smelly markers (that smell like I don’t know what died in here but what the heck, they are a dollar), pencils, we always need pencils! A sharpener for a …you guessed it a dollar! Stickers! The kids love stickers! I will get 5 packs! And envelopes. We need envelopes.
Damage update: $31.00 Time: 15 minutes
How did that happen, I just need a few more things, I have five minutes, I have to hurry. I don’t know if it is the rush I am in that causes a sane, sensible shopper like myself to go off the deep end and lose total control. Out the decal covered window goes all my educated consumer logic. Could it be some kind of hypnotic thought serum emitted from the sea breeze potpourri that I just threw in the basket along with 6 tapered candles, and 5 assorted picture frames? Is there subliminal music on this country muzak they have piped in? I get suspicious, here in New England, country music isn’t really all that popular, why is it the dollar stores play it all the time? Anyway, my thoughts are fleeting, I still need sponges and paper plates. I am now almost running, throwing in things I think I may be out of along the way, cosmetic sponges, nail polish remover, foam glass cleaner, those things you throw in the toilet to make the water blue, a new soap dish set (3 pieces), plastic shower curtain liners, another 3, they are just a dollar. A travel bible, and a few coloring books.
Damage account: $60.00 Time: 20 minutes
Finally I locate the sponges, and paper plates, all in the same isle. My cell phone rings right on cue.
Husband: “The baby is up, I gave her soda, because there is no juice. Where are you anyway?”
Me: “I am still in the dollar store, I am just getting sponges and a few other things. I can’t believe I forgot we were out of juice!”
Husband: “You are not going to buy it there are you? You don’t know how long that stuff has been sitting on those shelves…thats all junk in there anyway, you should have just gone to Stop and Shop for the sponges and the juice.”
Me: “I know, but I needed some other stuff too, I will be home in a minute. “
I look down at my almost filled to the top shopping cart. Junk? I start feeling defensive about the dollar store. Junk? Where else can you get serving utensils for a dollar? A whole wall of sparkling stainless steel , cheap kitchen gadgets is right in front of me. Like the emerald city glistening. In a deranged frenzy I grab as many of these shining treasures as I can. Heading for the register, I also stock up on pot holders, dishtowels, and place mats. In every seasonal theme imaginable. While on line, I try to count the items, but all the toys for a dollar right in front of me, makes me think, most of this stuff is for the house, I didn’t really get the kids anything, I should just grab some of these fake plastic bugs, and the animals for them to pretend to feed them too.
I am anxious as I reach the register. A girl who looks about 15 years old is scanning each item one by one as I try to count ,but her blue nail polish distracting me. I grab a bottled water, and a Slim Jim, the authentic dollar store snack, and she smiles and says, “Your total comes to $102.50, would you like to donate a dollar to the Jimmy Fund?”
“Sure” I say, ” But what is the .50 cents for?”
“The tissue paper was two for a dollar, and you only got one.” She says chewing her gum like a cow. I am aggravated now. How did I spend a hundred dollars? “Well I am not going all the way back , and out of my way for that.” I swipe my debit card. Walk to the car, sit down, take of swig of my bottled water, and try and get my thoughts together. A hundred dollars. Wow. Upon pulling up to my house, I think of the best way to tell my husband that I just bought a hundred dollars of ‘junk’. He is waiting at the door. He calls out…”Hey did you remember the juice?”
Damage Count:102.50 Time: 35 minutes
Final Damage Count: $105.49 Time: 1 hour