Al Batt: No coupons? What are you, a billionaire or something?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

What do you call someone born on Leap Day?

Al Batt

A Leapling.

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What do you call a Leap Year in which I use a coupon?

A Leap Year.

Coupons aren’t just the vouchers discounting the price of dental floss that the “Hey, you, get off my lawn!” guy gives trick-treaters at Halloween.

We had a coupon. My wife, my sister-in-law and I were intent on eating, but the chow line at the restaurant accepting the coupon was of considerable length.

Was it the hangnail of the day? The coupon was expiring. No worries. I’d planned nearly a minute ahead and was prepared for such an emergency. We went to a restaurant across the street with prompt service, a quiet atmosphere for conversation, and delicious food that didn’t require discretion while eating. The chow was worthy of being sopped up. I searched my mind for the proper emoji. Then I realized I’d better leave a tip instead.

A friend told me that someone had given her a cold for her birthday. That was a relatively inexpensive gift for the giver, but an expensive one for the recipient. There is a vast selection of cold and flu viruses available. Most of them are guaranteed to make you miserable. No coupon is necessary, but if you have a coupon for facial tissues, jump on that offer. It might be a good investment.

I’m not a prodigious user of coupons, but I used a two-year-old coupon in an eatery recently. The clerk mentioned it was the oldest coupon ever redeemed at that fine restaurant. Despite that remarkable achievement, I didn’t get a souvenir T-shirt reading “Keep calm and coupon” or a sweatshirt carrying the message, “Keep your coupons close and keep those behind you in a checkout line closer,” to commemorate the occasion.

“I didn’t want or need it, but I had a coupon,” I overheard someone say, which edges on insanity.

Life is filled with convenience and inconvenience. It’s true I occasionally say, “Free at last!” as I leave a store, but shopping is a learning experience. I’ve learned the secret to parking outside a big store isn’t to get as close to the door as possible. It’s to park as near to the cart corral as possible.

I was in line in a grocery store one day, clutching my humble purchases because I was too dense to grab a basket. We all start at the end of the line, unless we’re the kind who cuts in line. As I worked my way toward the cashier, the woman ahead of me pulled a wad of coupons that would choke a Percheron from her purse. If clipping coupons were an Olympic sport, she’d have been a gold medal winner. Did it slow my escape? Not in any noticeable way.

She might have announced, “I have a coupon for everything in my cart. Pick another line.” But if she did, I didn’t hear her.

I try to follow Yoda’s advice in all things, “Find joy, you must.”

And embrace the attitude the sand had when it said to the gravel, “I’m fine.”

A septic tank pumping truck hadn’t tipped over in front of us. Yet, some human beings welcome the opportunity to become both Statler and Waldorf, the pair of Muppet characters in a balcony from the sketch comedy TV series “The Muppet Show,” best known for their cantankerous opinions and shared penchant for heckling. It doesn’t take much to move the needle for some people who become upset when someone ahead of them employs clipped coupons, but if a little thing like that bothers them, they should take a good look at what’s happening in the world.

I know people are rushed. Not everyone has the time to get dressed before going shopping. I get it. There was no coupon rage, but a shopper grumbled that the store needed a “10 coupons or fewer” lane. The woman wasn’t doing anything terrible, like loading the dishwasher wrong. Maybe there should be a “Using coupons” lane.

There was math involved. After the coupons were applied, the store owed the woman money. And that’s how a lady who used coupons to stretch her budget became part owner of a grocery store.

In conclusion, there are 10 letters.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.