The slow march of the extreme couponer

I am all for folks saving money with coupons. Big fan. Do it myself on occasion.
Every once in a while I will throw down a coupon for a dollar off some choice lunch meat or perhaps, if I am feeling crazy, laundry detergent.

I am not like the “extreme couponers” who go to the grocery store and buy five cartloads of goods and manage to somehow get money paid back to them. I don’t begrudge them. Hats off to you for getting, say, 800 Capri Suns for a nickel. Good on you, I suppose.
That said, I think we should perhaps reach a treatise between the extreme couponer and me, the guy who is trying to grab bread, cheese and milk, and you, who is looking to liquidate the store for under $5. Again, I’m happy for your fiscal savvy. Really. I am. But being behind you in line is just slightly less painful than anesthetic free appendectomy, which I have never had but I am just guessing is really painful.
I base this very scientific decision on an experience I had behind a woman who was getting the best bang for her dollar. But not the best bang for the patience of anyone in line behind her.
Anywho, the woman in front of me had a rather full cart load, but this line seemed the best option for me. The self-checkout lanes were closed, which is always my preferred option. Sadly, I have discovered my superpower is extremely fast self checkout. No invisibility, no flying, no X-ray vision. Just a wickedly fast scan and pay for me. Don’t think I’ll be an Avenger any time soon.
So I settled in behind this woman, who began placing her products on the conveyer belt. I noticed that she had  enough meat to assemble at least a cow and a half. Each meat had that little yellow sticker on it that, we all know, means, “Better cook it tonight because it’s going to be a greenish hue tomorrow.”
OK, so she’s loading up on discount meat, I guess to freeze. Again, fine on her.
The clerk peeled each sticker off as quickly as she could and built a little stack. When she finished scanning every item, the woman handed her a block of coupons that was about the thickness of an iPhone. The clerk glanced at me and other folks in line with an apologetic look.
She began scanning the coupons. And scanning. And scanning. I began to wonder if my children had a good rest of their childhood, and how their adult lives were now going.
Finally, the clerk finished scanning. The woman had saved more than $100. Her bill came to a little bit over $80. Again, good for you, saving all that money. Hooray, savings!
It came time to pay, and the rest of the crowd was sensing this chapter in our life was nearly over. Nope.
She reached in her purse and pulled out a large wad of cash. I saw twenties. Peel off four of those bad boys, I thought. Negative. She went to the bottom of the stack, and proceeded to count off 80 one-dollar bills. I looked at the woman behind me. “Wow!” she mouthed.
The extreme couponer finally moved on, and it was my turn, having witnessed probably the longest grocery store transaction I have ever seen. Now, before you think I am being too hard on this woman, I assure you I’m not. Hence my earlier call for a treatise between us and them. Grocery stores should offer an Extreme Couponer checkout line. Only those with copious amounts of coupons get the privilege of going to it. If you’re not saving at least half of your bill, out of that line, bub. And, as an added bonus, only the fleetest of cashiers will be assigned to that. They will rocket through your 800 coupons with surgical efficiency.
You will be treated with the exclusivity you deserve for your money-saving prowess. And I will get to see my kids grow up. It’s wins all around.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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