Thursday, July 18, 2019

Frugal to a Fault

I do not believe in spending any more money than I need to. Perhaps the term 'false economy' applies to my consumption philosophy. I learned years ago that we pay way too much for the sparkle of something new - like that new car smell or the shiny item in the front window. Well, maybe not the new car smell, but I digress.

I try to meet the happy medium between the top price and cheap. Over the years, in furnishing my abodes, there are many examples of this. Now, I am not judging here. I wish I had the disposable income that allowed me to purchase anything I wanted at any price. But there is the game of 'The Bargain'. I find great joy in the estate sale, the thrift store, the yard sale, etc.

Some jewels I have found over the years include a heavy well made large solid wood book shelf for $20, a marble topped washstand for $25, and several very unique table lamps for no more $7 each. Why pay $20+ dollars for an ironing board when a perfectly good one can be procured for $5.50. Looking for an apartment size kitchen table, I was thrilled to find a solid wood hi-top table with 4 matching chairs (in excellent condition) for $35. I was the lucky beneficiary of the unfortunate closing of a local bar and grill.

Then often some things just work out. For example, several days ago, I decided to 'splurge' for a small rug to fit under my coffee table (the solid wood one I purchased for $19 from a local thrift store).  $35 for a new 3x5 rug was ridiculous, but I put it in my buggy anyway. When I was checking out, the cashier could not get the sku to scan. After trying several times, she looked all over the rug for a price tag. Being honest I offered, "The sign said '$35'."

"Well if I cannot scan the sku, I cannot just ring up $35." Once again she tried to scan the sku. Then she asked, "Does $9 seem reasonable?"

"Well, certainly," I replied, trying not to seem too pleased.

With that she scanned the last item she had rang up and smiled. "We'll just use this sku and go with it. They really need to make sure the sku's are registered."

I thanked her, paid my bill, loaded my buggy, and walked out of the store. Perhaps this was not honest. Should I have demanded she charge me the $35 the sign indicated? Nope, I justified to myself. She offered the price of $9, and who am I to refuse such an offer.

As a note, I have learned over the years that there are some items one never tries to save money on. It is well worth the extra expense to buy the strongest aluminum foil, highest quality bed sheets, thickest bath towels, and most excellent gin.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Cable Man Cometh

The 'Window of Service' scheduled for the cable technician to arrive was between 4 and 6 PM on Friday. At 2 o'clock, I received an automated call from Spectrum, reminding me  'Your technician is scheduled to arrive between 4 and 6 PM'.  A little after 3 PM, a polite young man called, identifying himself as 'my' Cable Technician. He had finished his last appointment and was ahead of schedule. Would it suit for him to come early? Obviously, this was not an issue with me.

As if big brother was listening, my phone immediately rang once more. It was Spectrum informing me that my Technician was on his way.

Sure enough, ten minutes later, he was knocking on the front door. I let him in. He asked a few questions and then walked through the downstairs area of the townhouse. After a minute or so, he asked, "I think here in the kitchen," he pointed to the corner, "would be the best place. Is that OK with you?"

As if I had a better idea. This was 1940's construction of brick and plaster. I doubted there were many choices. In less than 15 minutes, my internet was installed, up, and running. Maybe my ugly words about the cable company were unfounded.

The young man showed me the equipment he had installed. He handed me some materials and pointed to the bottom of the front page of one of the pamphlets. "Here is your password." 

Expecting some insane combination of letters, numbers, and characters, I was surprised to see "sparklychest123". I laughed, "This is my password? Seriously?"

He laughed. Yes mam, the original one assigned to me at home was "mushyking123".  We both laughed.

"Let me ask you a question. Yesterday I received a call from Spectrum offering me some super service that would allow me to run faster and jump higher on the internet. What is the difference between the tier of service I requested and that one?"

"About $35 a month."

"So I don't really need it?"

"No mam. You have all the speed and bandwidth you need." He paused, "Unless you are a professional gamer. No offense, I doubt if that applies here."

I thanked him and he left. The good news - I was back on the grid, the bad news - I was back on the grid.