Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Wife's Horror Story

It's Halloween week, and while I have no interest in the holiday, the costumes or the fright (30-years-old, still afraid of the dark due to my childhood), I do have a horror story to tell. 

Yep, real-life. 
Happened to me just last week. 
It gave me the shakes. 
I'll never forget it. 

As legend tells..........

I've played keeper of all gift cards that we thankfully received as wedding gifts; meticulously tracking where and why every dollar was spent.

The gracious Lowe's gift cards allowed us to remodel our home and even installed new windows just before the polar vortex. 
The very kind Bed, Bath & Beyond gift cards stocked our home with the necessities required when two lives merge. Ever used a Black & Decker Dust Buster? Like, the new ones? Get one. I use ours every single day. My hobby this month is using it to see how many live flies/Japanese beetles I can "Dust Bust" out of our window sills in 3 minutes. 

You don't know frustration until you realize 
you're baking flies in your scented warmer. 

I digress.
And lastly, the Dillard's gift cards from family and friends have set our table and made our beds. Two dear friends, Katie and Chrissie, gave us generous gift cards to Dillard's, since it was a department store close to both our Indiana and Kansas homes. Their gifts were very kind and also intuitive; how would they know that a year into this deal called marriage we would finally figure out exactly what we need in this old homestead? We simply needed time to settle. 

Fast forward to last week when Cody asked me if we had any Dillard's gift cards left. Yes, I told him, thinking of Chrissie & Katie. He asked me how I planned on using them, and I admitted that at this moment there wasn't a pressing need or want. He asked if he could use the cards to purchase a new sport coat. He has big obligations coming in the following months and he'd really worn down the coats that he had since college. I listened then briefly considered what Chrissie and Katie would think if we spent their gift on clothes... 

The Fashionistas would probably love nothing more. 

We decided to make a date of it, so a few days later Cody picked me up from work and we headed to the mall. We met Ryan, the suit specialist in the store that evening. We found a jacket that looked awesome on Cody and would match a lot of the ties that he's grown fond of throughout his judging career. 

Cody was measured and tucked and pinned and marked. Ryan told us when the tailored jacket would be available and we moved over to the register. 

Not much of a horror story yet, huh? 
Keep reading.

He rang us up and Cody proudly presented the gift cards. One with $12 left on it, the other with a balance of $166. 
"Twelve dollars off from that one," Ryan said as he swiped the card. "Want this back?"
"Nope, toss it," I remarked, anticipating the thrill of hearing him say we'll get $166 off on the next "swipe". 
"Hmmm, this one says zero balance," Ryan said, swiping the big money card a fourth time. 
Cody and I looked at each other. 
I got out my receipt. 
I've been so organized with all of our gift cards, for more than a year. 
I've accounted for every dollar spent and tracked who kindly gave us the card. 
I've wrapped every card with a remaining balance inside the receipt stating said balance. 
I looked again: $166 should be on that card, I tried to convince Cody.
Ryan tried typing in the numbers. 
Growing increasingly embarrassed and frustrated, Cody asked if this was something we could consult Customer Service over. It was. 
Cody went ahead and paid in full for his tailored jacket.

We left Ryan in the men's department and Cody reconfirmed that I kept good records. 
"I wouldn't be carrying these old receipts if I didn't!" I told him, following the tile floor directly to customer service. My feet hurt from twelve hours in heels that I'd bought online. I'll never do that again; they never fit right. 
We reached the counter and I tried to explain to the young employee how our balance wasn't showing up on our gift card. She gave it the familiar swipe - several times - then decided to call the store manager over the issue. 

This was becoming much more of an issue than Cody and I intended it to be. He just needed a new coat. 

The manager arrived and I once again explained our situation. She asked for patience as she went in back and called headquarters; they should be able to tell us exactly where and when every purchase was made on the troublesome card. We let her know we'd wait in the outdated chairs until she returned. 

"You're sure you haven't spent this card? Think...think about it.....It's almost $200 we're missing here." said Cody. 
"I never come to the mall anymore! I can't figure it out...." I wracked my brain. 
"Didn't you buy sheets here?" he asked.
"Yeah, you're right -  I did. But I bought them online..."

And right here is where 
I would like to type 
the actual words that 
began to go through 
my head in that very second, 
but my lovely mother reads the blog.

Online shopping. 
The heels...the damn, too-small heels I had on were bought online at Dillard'

My mind started racing; what else had I bought online in the last year that didn't provide a store-printed receipt? It made sense now. If I bought it online, I wouldn't have a receipt I could tuck into my wallet. 
I wanted to throw up. I stood up and went out to look at baby clothes. Baby clothes are happy and cute and...
Oh, I am so dead. 
I preach to Cody about pinching pennies, and shutting off lights to save energy costs, and using less laundry detergent and not leaving the refrigerator door open too long. I ask him to bring me the hotel soaps and coffee packets when he travels. He knows not to throw away feed sack ties so I can use them in my stationary. I nag about going to Meijer with out coupons and make quite a scene when I have to toss brown lettuce. 
But when Cody wants a practical sport coat he'll use for years, nope. Sorry. I've spent all of our life savings on turquoise bracelets and leopard print blouses. 
I'm just a real hypocritical jerk, I thought to myself.

I was shaking. 
This was one of those marriage moments folks tell you will come in year two. 
I put myself smack-dab into a real-life-wife horror story:
Spending money on things you don't need and getting caught. 

High heels across the marble. 
The Manager was coming back to the front desk. 
Judgement Day.
"Ok...Good news is I got answers. The bad news is the card is definitely depleted of it's balance," said the Wicked Witch, as she handed me the receipt with her handwritten notes along the margin. 
Cody decided to read aloud over my shoulder...
"Women's Apparel, $48
Shoe Department, $38
Click...Clincky....What is that - the third thing down?" he asked. 

"Clinique," said the Wicked, Completely-Sell-Me-Out Witch. "It's our make-up counter."
I wanted to give the Witch a piercing glare, but I didn't have the guts to make eye contact with anyone at that point in my life. An itemized receipt was so not necessary, I thought. And - damn you, Clinique free gift. 

Every penny of the $166 was accounted for, right there on that tattered receipt. 
"Well," said Cody, clearing his throat, "thank you for taking the time to figure all of this out for us."
"Yes, thank you," I remarked, turning around like a child leaving the Principal's office with their parent. 

We walked through the kid's section, past the holiday display and out to the truck without a word spoken. 
Our plan was to go to dinner on Cody's parents; they had sent us a Texas Roadhouse gift card for Valentine's Day. Oh, the irony. 
Feeling only an inch tall, I suggested we just skip our dinner date and head on home.
"Do we have anything to eat at home? Is any beef thawed?" Cody asked. Before I could answer he continued. 

"Nah, we're this close, 
let's just use this gift card 
from Mom and Dad. 
Unless, of course, 
you've already spent it online."

If I could have climbed under the seat of that white F-250 I would have right then and there. Cody smiled at me and fired up the engine. 

That was last Wednesday night. Since then he's not forgotten the incident as he's used the following lines:

"Linds! Can you throw me down some socks?'ve spent them all online..."
"Did you pay the fuel oil bill? - - Or, were you going to use a gift card?"


Lessons Learned:
1. Halloween doesn't scare me. What scares me is my lack of willpower when the "SUPER DUPER SALE!" emails roll into my inbox over my lunch hour.
2. It could have been worse. I could have spent that money on pants that I will grow out of and into seven times in the next five years. 
3. As my sorority sisters, Katie and Chrissie really should have known better than to send gift cards. 

Yep. I blame them. 

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