Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hunting and gathering

I had an all-too-brief IM conversation this morning with someone in another country. IM conversations with me tend to be weird phase-shifted things: I am not a fast typist, and I generally watch my hands as I type. What I am typing will usually be a response to something the other person typed two or three IM lines earlier. Trying to reconstruct one of these conversations in a way that makes sense would require a lot of cut-and-paste work.

So, several lines after I had said goodbye, we were talking about money and shopping. I pulled out one of my fundamental beliefs, that shopping is just an expression of our old hunting and gathering instincts. She declared herself a hunter, as did I.

Today after work I went out to do some shopping, and decided to analyze myself in terms of "hunting" and "gathering":

Stop 1: Clothing store. Needed some new jeans. Had a coupon good for $25 off a purchase of $50 or more in the store, expiring tomorrow. Bought two pairs of jeans at $45 for one pair, two or more for $39.99 apiece. This was a planned kill: I had used a coupon and had gone in looking for something specific. The fact that I took advantage of an opportunity for additional savings by buying two pairs does not diminish the hunting aspect.

Stop 2: Ollie's. Gathering mission. Looking for books. Got two cute miniature books, ostensibly for my nephews - one on animals and one on dinosaurs. They are actually photoreductions of large books. I own the full-sized version of the dinosaur book, and compared them page for page, picture for picture, word for word. Some of the text in the new editions is remarkably small, perhaps a millimeter high. Also got Madame Secretary (Madeline Albright's memoirs) and a book on frequently confused terms in the natural world called This Is Not a Weasel. Each book was $3.99. I left happy.

Stop 3: Best Buy. Hunting mission. Had a raincheck for the 10th anniversary edition of Mallrats. Regularly $19.99, the sale price last week was $16.99, but to members of Best Buy's Membership Rewards club it was $14.99. Irrelevant, because they were sold out by the time I got there last week, so they gave me a raincheck. Redeeming it was an incredibly complicated process, but the cosmic cost to me probably did not exceed the $5 savings.

Stop 4: A.C. Moore. Hunting and gathering at the arts & crafts store. I had a 40% off coupon expiring today - no big deal, A.C. Moore has a 40% off coupon (applicable only to non-sale items) in the papers every week, except when it's 50% off. Also they had a few things in their ad I wanted to check out, but this came to nothing. So I wandered the store for a while, occasionally being rendered stupid by leaking freon from a malfunctioning air conditioner unit. (I told them about this, and they told me they had had a repairman in earlier who had said that everything was fine. I told them to have him stand under a particular air duct for 10 minutes and see what happens. Was that wrong of me?) In the end I wound up buying three photo boxes on sale for $2.99 each - my mom needs photo boxes, and I need somewhere to put the 518 digital photos I just got processed.

So, are you a hunter, a gatherer, or both?

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