photo credit: © Marzky Ragsac Jr. – Fotolia.com
The following guest post was written by my husband, Aaron Brown.
There are now two things I’ve agreed not to handle without my wife in the room: her iPhone and women’s pants.
Being married to the Northern Cheapskate has its advantages. We can pay our bills, plan for the future, and don’t have any debt except for our mortgage. Christina has taught me how to work coupons, check receipts and get the best price for the things I want. And besides, since we both write blogs I completely understand her (measured) desire for (affordable) gadgets that make life easier on the go.
That’s why recently I decided to splurge for my wife’s birthday on a purchase we had discussed, an iPhone to replace her sluggish not-so-smart phone, an older model that seemed to run on diesel fuel and sadness.
I walked with purpose into the cell phone shop, a disposable boxy building not unlike the one in your town. A crew of bright-eyed commissioned salespeople were about to get a treat. It was money I had and product my pleasure. I literally said “I am here to buy one of those iPhones you have on special” as my opener.
I was prepared to pay the advertised price, but the hipster-bearded saleman was trained to deal with people like me. He said, “You’ll need accessories.” Before I could think he had laid a straight flush of gadgetry on the counter.
“I’m not looking to buy any accessories,” I said.
Ah, but there was a deal going. He could knock an abstract amount of money off the price of the phone if I took part in the “five for three” deal, or the “three for two” deal. It was like getting free accessories. Not all of them free, but some of them. Five! Three! Free! More numbers! Car chargers, cases and styluses, oh my!
Naturally, he couldn’t tell me the actual price of anything at first. He’d have to go in the back room to “find out.” I was reminded of that scene in “Fargo” where William H. Macy’s car salesman character “checks with his boss” only to ask the manager about Gopher tickets before returning with the price he already knew.
This whole time I knew what was going on. I was being “up sold.” The money I wanted to spend was in the bag, so they were trying to expand the sale, run up the score. I knew this, but I had also done the thing that my wonderful wife had taught me never to do. I brought my emotions to the store.
It’d been a stressful year for our family and I wanted to do something nice. Not having to buy these things would reduce her stress, I thought. But by the time the order was rung up I had added $50 to the price I had planned to pay that day.
The iPhone was a big hit, but my wife had to roll her eyes at my story. It was a good lesson for me, one that I’m still learning. Just a week later I was dispatched to the store to exchange a pair of black jeans she bought that she later learned was missing a button. They had to swap out for blue because the black pairs were all gone. The clerk, however, managed to sell the buttonless black jeans back to me at half price.
“She can just sew a button on and good as new,” she said.
Good news, honey! I spent more money and you need to do some sewing! Yeah, I’ve got more to learn, but at least this mistake only cost me $3.
Aaron teaches community college and runs a blog called Minnesota Brown. He also writes a newspaper column and does public radio commentary. He lives with his wife Christina and their three boys in rural Minnesota.