Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rebates: A Genetic Disorder

It is with great fondness that I look back on a life where the word "rebate" was part of a language known only by my parents.

(It is 6:17 on a Monday morning and we're having buckwheat pancakes and authentic Vermont maple syrup - NOT Mrs. Butterworth's) 

Dad, tucking in his white oxford and straightening his tie: 
Did you mail in that Craftsman rebate?

Momma, warming the syrup in a pan of hot water on the stove so it would pour easier:
Yep, I sent that yesterday. 

And what about the one for that set of Bocce balls I bought last month? We should get an extra ball from that one, if I remember right. 

Extra ball should arrive to our house any day...

I had no idea what my parents were talking about. I just knew I really wanted pancakes that didn't taste like the Original Jean's fiber cereal.

Fast forward fifteen years and I was a happy, broke single gal trying to scrap all the money I could for Saturday nights, victorian doors and plane tickets. I learned to clip the heck out of the Sunday news. I scanned my parent's paper (I refused to subscribe at my house) for anything that read "REBATE". There was just something rewarding about buying 15 quarts of motor oil and getting a $10.00 gift card in the mail. 

I began to hold on to receipts like they were the secret recipe to Bush's Baked Beans and Duke the dog and I had some illegal deal in the works. I made copies of everything

And for a while (few years), my rebate system seemed to work really well. Until some bitter December Monday night when I realized I couldn't get my car in the garage because I had 10 bags of Purina dog chow stockpiled directly in front of the door. And two bags of free (rebate) cat food on top of that. I had one 9-pound puppy at the time, and I completely despised anything that purred that didn't have an engine. It was then, as I unstacked and moved bags of unneeded pet food in dress slacks and heels, that I first questioned if I had a rebate obsession? 

I continued to rebate hunt, printed in black ink only and clipped the bar code from my toilet paper purchases - just in case. 

Next thing you know, you're buying jerky makers and potato bakers and size two fakers in mass amounts for a $20.00 gift card to a store that left Richmond 4 months ago? 
And by "you" I mean me. 

Before I could phone all the manufacturers to tell them I didn't need the "freebees," there was a calamity in Greens Fork. I had baking dishes that read in european measurements only and car batteries stacked in the "Rebate Rewards" pile in my already-full garage. And where in the world was I going to store two sets of Michelin go-cart tires???

Four years have come and gone since I stood in a room with others and blatantly admitted I had a rebate problem. Granted, it was Momma and Dad's living room and they both stared at me as confused as a pair of chameleons in a bag of skittles. Nonetheless, it felt good to get that off my shoulders. 

Later that afternoon I had to remind Momma of my home address so she could exceed the "one rebate per household" limit for a second microwave.

Which reminds me. I'm not pointing fingers, I just need to know who to blame for the twelve 5-gallon buckets of hydraulic oil stacked on a pallet in my driveway. 

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