20 November 2008

Whip it

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."

Me: "What?"

The spouse: "Yeah, a TI-83. It's a graphing calculator. He needs it for a Trig test tomorrow."

Me: "What?"

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.

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