I’m Becoming The Lady At Walmart Who Fights People For A Television on Black Friday and Ends Up As An Unintentional Youtube Celebrity

This is now a blood sport. My Fuel Up To Win card now has one piece missing in each of the sections INCLUDING the $100,000 prize. This morning alone I tackled a grizzled old trapper at the gas station to pry six tickets out of his gnarled arthritic hands. Actually that’s not true, for some reason, probably because he lives in a cave with only a beaver for company, the trapper didn’t know about Fuel Up To Win.

Consequently, when the kindly cashier handed him his tickets, he proceeded to rip into them like he was a starved wolverine feasting upon a squirrel.  The cashier intervened and helped him to open the second ticket. After discovering that he didn’t win a car or another moose head for his cave wall, the trapper threw his tickets at her and stomped out. She was balling them up to toss in the trash when I sprinted for the cash- “I’ll take those” I said. She handed the whole ripped mess over to me and I pocketed it quickly. Then I purchased a small box of Glossettes to earn myself a ticket.

In case you’re sitting in the wings, judging me for abusing the contest rules and buying a small box of candy just to play. Yes I’m there, judge away. But what you should also know is that it wasn’t my first visit to a Coop Gas Bar that day. At nine AM, after being kept awake by Mini-Tex’s terrible cough and my own GI bug, I woke up wanting only one thing – a chance to play. Well two things, I also wanted Smarties.

The problem was that I had told someone in town that I wasn’t feeling well last night. That I was so sick in fact, that I had to cancel our plans for that day. This is a very, very small town, that becomes microscopically small when you do something like dash into the grocery store wearing pyjama bottoms and no bra, then suddenly your child’s teacher, your boss and that lady you hate because she always has her hair perfectly coiffed are all waiting at the checkout with you. Man, I hate Samantha; her outfits are always fabulous too.

Having lived in this tiny town for almost a year now, and having already made the mistake of going to the mall on a Saturday, I knew all of this. Meaning, that I knew that I couldn’t take our stroller out for the quick walk to the gas bar because I would see no less than 10 people I knew. All of them would know that both Mini-Tex and I were ill, so I would be forever marked as the negligent parent taking her ailing son out and the bad friend who cancels but isn’t too sick to go for a walk. So walking was out, which was just as well because I was actually too sick to walk.

At 8:37 AM, I drove the 500 meters to the gas bar. I’m ashamed to say it, but it was the only way I could be within a minute of a bathroom and get my Fuel Up To Win ticket. On the way, I debated asking Jesus to stop paying attention to all the lepers and poor people and steer everyone I knew away from the gas bar so I could buy my early morning treat in anonymity. I decided not to, that as awful as it would be to be seen purchasing chocolate before nine AM on a Monday, the people whose noses were falling off needed prayers more.

This morning, I got lucky and was in and out of the convenience store with my tickets in hand before someone could so much as say “How’s that husband of yours?” and I didn’t see anyone that I knew which means that about half of the people recognized me. This is my new gambling low. I always wondered how people could throw punches over electronics, but now, hitting rock bottom, chewing on my second box of candy today, I know that I’m a short hop away from boxing with strangers over a TV.

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The Reason For My Burgeoning Toilet Paper Collection

  1. A bunch of teenagers are coming over later and I have a vendetta to settle with a house down the street. Also, can you point me in the direction of the eggs?
  2. I’m hosting a bridal shower and we’re doing the make a wedding dress out of TP activity. So fun!
  3. My toddler is constructing a giant fluffy castle and wants to add another turret.
  4. What? This isn’t used for insulation?
  5. My aunt with the iffy stomach is coming for the weekend.
  6. We keep playing the “Mommy is a mummy” game. It takes a lot more rolls than you’d think to completely encase such a small person as myself.
  7. I saw a mattress made of toilet paper on Pintrest and decided to try it. Like all Pintrest ideas, it seemed good at the time but now I’m halfway through the project and am regretting all of my life choices that have led to this.
  8. The adult version of the frat boy beer can collection is toilet paper; I’ve decided to proclaim my adulthood by showcasing my Charmin in all its glory to the neighbours on our bay window ledge. If this doesn’t make me block captain, I don’t know what will!
  9. The ball pit balls are missing and this seemed like a roll-y equivalent.
  10. I’ve actually hit that low point in the Fuel Up To Win Contest; I have no more food to buy because it’s just myself and my son at home right now and we were sick over the weekend, meaning that we didn’t eat much. So I’m buying toilet paper. Lots of TP. Twice a day. Judge me all you like; I’m having so much darn fun.

The Answer to My Husband’s Question of “Why Do We Have 38 Bananas, 7 Liters of Milk and 12 Pounds of Baloney?”

Hello my name is Sarah and I’m a gambling addict. I wasn’t aware of this quality of mine until recently; my extreme inner cheapskate would never permit me to actually spend money on gambling, even quarter slot machines eat at my frugal soul. Sitting at the slots, I would agonize internally- “That was a quarter you just lost” I’d admonish myself, “That money could have purchased eight whole peanut M&Ms out of a candy machine!” So slots are out, as is poker and any other card game because I’m not one for games. The lottery is too unlikely as a winning venture and even scratch cards tend to get on my money saving nerves after a couple of losing tickets, but contests run by businesses? Count me in.

Once upon a time, before caffeine spelled my imminent demise, I loved coffee, and in the New Year, I LOVED Roll Up The Rim To Win, an annual event at the Canadian institution of Tim Horton’s. As a student, my once daily cuppa joe would become a jittery morning, afternoon and sleepless night, three-times-a-day habit during the contest. All in the name of rolling up the rim to discover a free doughnut or coffee. But then, tragically, I grew up and got myself a drip filter, thus my inner cheapskate killed this once beloved tradition in favor of saving money by brewing coffee at home.

Now enter the Prairie past time of “Fuel Up To Win”. The name is deceiving because if Tex and I were dependent on putting gas in our car to participate- we’d lose. Even if we were to drive all over town every single day- we’d fuel up once every two months, it’s just not a large place. As avid cyclists and staunch environmentalists, we use even less fuel. The contest began at the pump, but extended to the grocery stores, meaning that each time a person buys milk or kielbasa, you’re given a ticket to win. In other words, I’m in cheapskate gambling heaven.

Purchase $25 of groceries, you get one ticket, $50 of eggs and the like will get you two tickets but packing your cart with $100 worth of yogurt and such will earn you three tickets to win. Here’s the frugal catch – it’s $25 and UNDER. Meaning a person could buy $11 dollars of groceries and still get a chance to win- or even two dollars! This is why I’ve found myself visiting the grocery store every single day. Sometimes twice.

Occasionally I’ll get lucky and some distracted shopper will leave hard earned tickets behind at the cash. At which point I’ll ask whether I can have them. And God bless the underpaid youth- they always nod and push the tickets my way while scanning the rest of my order. It creates the kind of feeling that one only gets when they realize that they’ve accidentally placed a “Z” on a triple letter score in Scrabble. It’s brilliant, it’s wonderful, it’s beautiful; it makes you want to fall on your knees in appreciation of the youth’s ambivalence. As it is, I just shove the tickets into my pockets and speed away before the cashier changes their mind.

Then comes my favourite part- the actual ticket. Tim Horton’s coffee cups have nothing on this game. First of all, there are THREE tickets- they’re all placed on a game card. The playing card itself has separate sections so one filled section may earn a barbeque or another will earn $50 in grocery gift certificates. And then there is the piece de resistance- the section that if all the matching tickets are found, gets one person $100,000 dollars cash. All this just for buying chicken wings that I would have purchased anyway!  My inner frugal miser is doing joyful cartwheels in a bouncy house over this.

Yes, often there are duplicate tickets, but amass eight of those and you’ve got a chance to enter yet another contest! Oh my cheapskate self is crowing with pleasure. Then as if all of that wasn’t exciting enough, the three tickets are packaged within a larger ticket that could be a coupon, or another chance at a different contest or perhaps a free KitKat. Free chocolate? I’ll take eight!

So all of this excitement has led to frequent trips to the grocery store. What I’ve discovered is that, after visiting the grocery store every single day, sometimes twice for two weeks, is that one eventually runs out of groceries to buy. It’s gotten to the point where I’m avoiding purchasing such staples as toilet paper or dish soap because I could buy those any day whereas today we definitely need apples. The contest has also led to an overconsumption of kale on my part. It’s the one food item that I can justify eating in mass quantities in order to have something to put on the grocery list the next day. And while I could spend only a couple of dollars purchasing one item, I feel that’s a bit like gaming the system, especially during my second visit of the day after my son has enjoyed his second free cookie from the bakery. (Yes, I stuff my two year old full of baked goods so that he’ll willingly accompany me to the grocery store a couple of times a day. You can judge me after I’ve won a free lawn mower.)

A friend nicely pointed out that I may have a problem. Which is true. But it’s a short lived one- the contest closes in mid-April. In the meantime, I’ll just have to live with myself on days like yesterday, when it was too slippery to drive and too snowy for the stroller so I hauled my thirty pound toddler over two kilometers on a sled in the name of kale, frozen pizza and a “Fuel Up To Win Ticket”. Such is the life of an addict.