Friday, December 12, 2008

It was a dark and rainy night. . .

So. It never goes quite as planned, does it? At least I don't think it does. But, though I really thought all was lost at one point, it turned out just fine in the end. Dramatic? Yeah, well, you should have been there. My husband should have been ruing the day I ever heard of the Extra Care Program. But he was really nice. And, as fairness demands me to add, he was right; and I was wrong. But it sure looked bleak.

Here's what happened. We had to go after church on Wednesday, since we were getting this little gift for Thursday (which incidentally we forgot on Thursday, so the recipient never would have known the difference, but that's neither here nor there), and it was raining, and it was late. So we had to go to the CVS which is opened 24 hours, not the one right on the way. I had my list planned. I even dropped a hint that Jon stay in the car with the baby so we didn't have to haul him in and out of the car seat. Once again, he was right, and. . . you get the idea. I rarely just "run in" to a CVS; something always throws off my plan or looks different from the ad or something. This night was no exception.
So I got the candy. Jon kept saying, "One more time, how will this be free?" I got 5 bags of Bliss, 1 bag of Reeses Clusters (because the coupon showed Reeses Clusters; my fatal mistake was assuming the ad also did), and a bag of Reeses Pieces that I still would declare to you were marked 2/$4. Perfect. $20 exactly. Doesn't usually work that way on "Spend $xx, get $y Extra Bucks" deals.
Now to find the contact solution and Powerade so my total will be over $15. (Insert disappointed cartoon music here, you know "Wamp, wamp, wamp, waaaaamp.") No contact solution. A nine-dollar monkey wrench at 9:30 at night with a restless one-year-old and an admittedly understanding husband who is not quite in the same Extra Care zone can cause things to fly apart. But it didn't. After locating the Powerade, I was about to say, "Forget it. I'll spend my $15 later," when Jon says from behind the ad of all places, "Hey, you could get handsoap here. You get $3 back. Well, we needed handsoap, and I knew for a fact I did not have SoftSoap coupons at home to mock me when I returned after having not had them with me, so I jumped.
We checked out. The cashier insisted that I hand her my Extra Bucks along with my coupons. I was momentarily nervous about whether that would throw off my beautiful $4/$20, but it didn't. The total was $5.36 even after the $15 ECB--well over what I expected it to be. That should have impelled me to stay right by the register until I had figured out exactly what happened. But I knew I was getting lots of Extra Bucks back so I allowed two things to lull me into complacency: 1) The receipt was a mile long; I knew the Hershey deal must have been successful, 2) The cashier was not at her perkiest at 9:30, and appeared to wish me and my coupon-using self anywhere but in front of her register. I was intimidated, and I thanked her most politely for her help (she hadn't seen anything yet, I'm afraid) and ducked through the rain to my car.
Whereupon I devoured my receipt as I always do to figure out just how I'd faired. (Cheesey dramatic music "Dun, dun, Duuuuuuuuuun") We got the soap, we got the Powerade. . .no $10 for the Hershey.
"We've got to go back!"
"No way."
"No, no. We never would have bought all that candy if it wasn't super cheap! Oh no, and the lady doesn't want to see me again!"
As the car is U-turning on 291, "Want me to do it? I don't know what I'm doing."
Slight pause. It's tempting, but he's right. "No. I'll go in," I said flatly, wishing I'd never heard the word "deal."
Sheepishly I approach the counter. "Umm, I must have misread the sign. These Clusters were right next to the other candy. . . but can I exchange them for the other kind that qualifies for the Extra Bucks?"
"Only the ones marked go with the deal."
Knowing it would be impolite to point out that I had as good as just said that very thing to her, I said an innocuous, "Yeah. Would it be all right if I return these and get the other kind?"
"Yeah. I can do a refund and then you can buy the other kind. Only the ones that say they go with the deal really work."
By this time, I was beginning to feel that perhaps this would be a good time to play dumb. I had a suspicion I was as familiar with the oft-referred to "deal" as she, but prudence seemed to support a meek, "Yeah." Because, you see, I failed to mention earlier that we were nearly late to church on account of a desperate search for my key ring. So I didn't even have my card. I had used the bigger one that Jon carries, but he now had that in the car with Paul.
"I, umm, left my card in the car. . ."
I was not rewarded with the customary "No problem; how about a phone number!" I am used to hearing from CVS cashiers. Rather I got a dubious, "We can try a phone number."
Endeavoring not to feel that I was suspected of putting one over on her, I responded with my husbands cell-phone number (our main contact).
Tappity, tappity. "Nope."
"Oh." (She'll never take back the Clusters.) "Okay, how about [my cell phone number]?"
It worked. I felt like a "not guilty" verdict had been handed down. She gave me the money for the Clusters in cash, rang up the Bliss, received three of the dollars she had just handed me, printed out another mondo receipt, and bid me a fond farewell.
Back in the car, I triumphantly pulled out the new receipt and searched for the $10 Hershey Extra Bucks. . .

That's enough for one post, I think. I'll be back later with . . . the rest of the story.

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