Scene: Breakfast, this morning
The spouse: "Did the son tell you about the calculator?"
Me: "What calculator?"
The spouse: "The one he needs for school."
The spouse: "Yeah, a TI-83. It's a graphing calculator. He needs it for a Trig test tomorrow."
The spouse: "Look, I only heard about it this morning."
Me: "I've never even heard of a graphing calculator. Where am I supposed to find that on such short notice."
The spouse: "I don't know."
So I start searching online. One hundred dollars for a calculator described as perfect for high school and lower level college math classes. Great. The kid is already taking a lower level college math class.
Store A: Not available in store.
Store B: Not available at all.
Finally, I find a website that lists one, and miracle of miracles, the store is only a few miles away. And I have a coupon.
But I don't trust these guys. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to buy a laptop at the same store, and it turned out that only the Garden Grove and Long Beach store had the laptop I wanted. So, I call them.
Grumpy man: "OfficeSupplyChainStorehelpyou?"
Me: "Do you have a TI-83 calculator in stock at that store?"
Grumpy man: "I don't know."
I wait silently.
Grumpy man: "But I can check."
Me, crisply: "Would you please? Thank you."
I can outgrump anyone at 7:50 am.
My punishment is, of course, listening to horrifying blaring advertisements for Office Supply Chain Store for 10 minutes.
Grumpy man, finally: "Yeahwehaveit."
Me: "You have a TI-83 calculator in stock at that store?"
Grumpy man: "Yeah."
Me: "Thank you for checking."
Later in the morning, I set out for Office Supply Chain Store, making sure I have my coupon and my wallet. I've read all the fine print on the coupon, and everything seems to be in order. The brand is not excluded; it's not a computer or TV or camera. Once I get to the store, I find what I need relatively quickly (Grumpy walks past me three times and does not offer to help and I'm just as happy. I'm already in the mood to bite someone's head off). I also pick up a new powerstrip and a packet of Sharpies since my black Sharpies are always disappearing (courtesy of the daughter, I suspect, who loves all things office supply).
I go to the cash register armed with credit card, and coupon. Exchange pleasantries with the cashier who immediately tries to sell me some kind of extended warranty for the calculator at 10% of it's cost.
"No thanks, he'll have grown out of this in a year," I tell her.
"We send you a gift card in the mail for the full purchase price," she tells me.
"No thanks." Yeah, with stores closing and going bankrupt left and right? I don't think so.
The manager immediately shows up. "Did she tell you about our extended plan?"
"Yes, she did," I reply wearily.
"So you're going to get it?"
"No thanks," I tell him.
"Accidental damage, we replace it," he says.
"Accidental damage, he replaces it," I say.
"So you want it?"
The cashier rings up the purchase and scans the coupon. "It's not taking it," she tells me.
"I read the thing. It should be fine," I reply.
She starts reading the exclusions. "Oh," she says, "No technology."
"A calculator is not 'technology!'" I reply. "Technology is a laptop."
"I'm sorry," she says.
"So what, you're going to tell me an abacus is technology? Counting on my fingers?" I was on a roll.
"I'm sorry," she says.
By the time I finished with a salvo about stores that issue unusable coupons (seriously, read the list of exclusions on some of these things. You will save on $75 worth of cardboard, nothing else), I think she was pretty sorry I'd ever walked in the store.
Once out of the store, I call the spouse, and relate the whole sorry story to him.
"I can see the black cloud from here," he tells me.
"And the worst part is," I fume, "the worst part is what good is this thing anyway? I did just fine with a TI-30 when I took College Algebra and Trig. We had to draw our own graphs!"
"Yeah!" the spouse says.
We are both silent for a moment.
"You know," I venture. "We sound like the people who told us, 'I did just fine with a slide rule.'"
"Yup," the spouse sighs. "We do."
Go listen to some music: "Whip It" from the album Greatest Hits by Devo.