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Friday, October 2, 2009

Wal-Mart Frugal and Proud of It

I love emails, usually. And for a while, I thought one of the best is the current Just Wal-Mart Folks that arrived, simultaneously, from Australia, South Africa, and West Post Office. It is a collection of rustics in various garbs from pink shorts and yellow knee high boots to a “Fuck You” hat to a swastika emblazoned red t-shirt. Cool. But the more I surfed through the photos the more I got troubled. Then it struck me “right upside ah da haid”: there is something elitist about that email (I researched and found that all the originators AND forwarders are registered Republicans),and it rubs me against the grain of my fur. The collection, after all, makes fun of people for having the audacity to live cheaply and for dressing like they do. Furthermore, I am crushed personally because I am probably the cheapest SOB to stroll the aisles of late-night Wal-Mart. Please don’t get me wrong; I don’t consider myself cheap towards other people. After all when I was investigating religion from the pews of the local catholic bingo game, I always tipped The Little Sisters very well; I have been known as being over-generous in tipping, especially at a Hooters; and the few friends who remember me will account that I will buy a round or two at any pub and enjoying doing it. But this Wal-Mart email suggests that I have some defect for being frugal.

Look: the guy in the Fuck You hat probably didn’t pay much for it at all; I can’t imagine that he strolled into Neiman Marcus and found it at the gentleman's accessory-table. And I am as cheap in the chapeau department as one can get; I bought six brand new Marilyn Manson baseball hats, 100 percent wool, black with purple embroidery for a buck a piece, a DOLLAR. That was about five years ago, and they are such nice hats that I am only just breaking in the second one and use, still, the first on rainy days. It is my favorite golf hat; call me silly but these are cool hats especially when any Adidas one is twenty-one fifty. And, how much could a woman possibly pay for a leopard print top paired with a tiger print, spandex bottom? I understand and applaud her frugal nature. Say, if new, golf slacks would cost me sixty-five dollars each. About eight years ago I got a baker’s dozen, polyester Sans A Belt golf pants for six fifty total. Now that’s a bargain not to mention that I got red, canary yellow, lime green, and for Fourth of July, red, white, and blue checked ones. And after eight years, so what if the yellow-checked pairs’ zipper pops off track whenever I hitch them up? A safety pin snitched from a tag on a golf jacket holds things together and in; I don’t wear them around women or children. I am proud of saving so much money on golf stuff by being on the lookout for bargains: thirty-five golf gloves for twenty dollars, real goat, made in India from some sort of goat-hide that would not surrender its odor. What do it I care if the gloves and my hands smell a little like moldy, goat urine? A Foot Joy glove is fourteen dollars at the pro-shop; now who’s silly?

And it is not just golf where I save money: take my trucks and cars. I drove a ’76 Toyota pickup that cost 500 bucks from ’88 to ’00 and then sold it to the junk yard for 185. I do confess to driving it for a year and a half without a clutch, but other than at stop lights and signs where I had to shut the truck off and then hop it through the intersection until I got up enough speed for first gear to take over, it really wasn’t a big deal. My current transportation is a Focus station wagon (I don’t know what year it is), and the piston-dudes that hold up the hatch have run out of grease, seals gone bad. Thus, the hatch, on cool mornings will, if you aren’t paying attention, drift down onto your head. The closures are about 100 dollars for the pair; I found a worn out, old broom along Route 13, took it home and sawed off the rotten bristled end. Viola, a hatch prop: savings= 100 dollars. When the floor mat on the driver’s side wore through, I cut a hunk out of some red Astro-turf left over from tiling my shower, custom fitted the remnant to the hole and duct taped it in from the back. Damn, floor mats are expensive; why spend good money for new ones? I tried just duct taping it because the grays kind of matched, but the tape could not maintain a purchase on the mat’s fibers. And batteries, folks they sell "blems” out there. For real, there is such a thing as a blemished battery, and you can get one cheap. The blem won’t have a label or advertising or directions, but for fifteen bucks it will crank your engine. And I found that if the new battery doesn’t fit just right into battery rack, I can take an empty, plastic, quart oil bottle and wedge it in between the battery and the wheel well; the plastic bottle gets warm and will mold right around the battery and reduce rattling and vibration-wear on the cables.

I am ambivalent about that Wal-Mart email; the photos reveal some strange looking outfits on equally strange looking folks both of which caused me at first to chuckle and to scratch my left forehead in amazement. Yet, I am a kindred-spirit with those good Americans; I understand how you can get by by shopping smart and taking advantage of stuff that people who shop at Food Lion often toss in a dumpster (I ought to tell you about what time of night Wawa tosses out the bagels and donuts, but I don’t need any competition in that department).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nyahhhh, You Must Be a Maroon!

I am fully aware that I am not the most acute angle on the protractor, but I do find myself wondering, muttering, spitting, and cursing at some of the stuff that goes on in the name of “good” sense:

We are about to enter into a debate on the Hill as to whether or not it is dangerous to text- message (sorry I guess that is a verb) while driving a car. Go figure how many millions will be spent in DC and in state houses affirming that people ought not to be looking at a Blackberry, Palm whatever, or cell phone while they are driving anything. Why the hell do we need a meeting about that topic? We can’t drive a car without a seat belt without being liable for a ticket, but I have yet to figure out how my not wearing a seatbelt can hurt anyone. I do because it makes sense but could care less if you don’t and want to run the risk of getting thrown out the window when you are hit head on by some “ijit” texting his Mom to see what’s for dinner. But do we need a national debate on whether it is safe to text or to talk on the phone while you are driving. It ain’t. Ray LaHood (probably the only aptly named person in the entire administration) says it isn’t good to text and drive and with training the cops could enforce a law prohibiting it. Training? What freaking training: Hey. She has a phone up to her ear… Hey, look, Barney, he’s staring at his lap while driving 65 on the bypass. Hey, drop the donut, and let’s go bust the sucker. Training, my left butt cheek. Oh, well.

And how about all the folks who are always screaming about what good sense it would make to open up oil production by drilling in national parks and in the oceans? Aren’t they the ones who say we need to be self-sufficient in oil and gas as a matter of national security? Sure makes sense to me except for two facts: lowering the speed limits on interstate highways and enforcing the speed limits on a regular and fair basis would, I am guessing, save millions of gallons of gasoline, every day. I came to this simple conclusion while going home on Route 13 North at, I admit, an illegal 58 miles per hour and watched as scores of cars zipped by me going at least 65 miles per hour. I sure am in favor of giving a little bit of “wiggle room” on speed limits, say five percent. So if you are in a 40 mph zone and are going 43 mph, zap, Barney wakes up from guarding the road crews for 75 dollars an hour and gives you a ticket. And who needs to go 70 miles an hour? The number one killer in automobile accidents is speed; so why have speed limits of 70 mph, allow drivers to go 85 free of punishment when by reducing speeds, we save lives, reduce medical expense and make the country safe at the same time. In fact, if the law makers in Delaware want to cush it up for off-duty cops to make some extra folding money, why have a pair of them drive abreast from county line to county line going 57 miles per hour. Reduce accidents, save gas, make us safe. That’s probably asking too much because every cop I see in my travels is busting past me well over the speed limit as if he/she is above the law. Ah, what the heck.

As my hero, the politically incorrect Bugs Bunny says, “Hey, youse must be a maroon.” Bugs’ aspersion applies precisely to anyone who wants to have a debate about texting while driving and to all who want to drill in precarious places without lowering and enforcing speed limits.

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