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Laverne H. Bardy Headshot

Help! I'm Drowning in Minutiae

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Every day I remove a ton of mail from my mailbox, lug it into the house and plop it onto my kitchen counter. I'm holding my breath, counting the days until the weight causes my kitchen to fall through to my basement.

Three pounds are bills, newspapers and invitations. Eight pounds are unsolicited address labels, brochures, advertisements, catalogues, coupons, flyers, credit card offers, donation requests, calendars, beautiful cards created by disabled people who paint with their feet and invitations to attend seminars promising to lower my mortgage and my weight, improve my eyesight, hearing, blood pressure, credit rating, cellulite and erectile dysfunction.

I used to open everything, including those windowed envelopes covering pale green enclosures made to look like checks. One time, even though I knew it was a gimmick, I felt compelled to open it, only to find it actually was a check. For $25. Good toward the purchase of a $40,000 car.

I was so gullible I regularly signed on to win $1,000,000 from Ed McMahon. I knew somebody had to win. Why not me? I finally got smart.

Every year I donate money to various charities. What infuriates me is when, shortly after I've mailed my check, I receive another request from that same organization with a note saying, "Since you've been so generous in the past we thought you'd enjoy giving again." What past? Enough time hasn't elapsed for there to be a past; I mailed in my donation thirty days ago. All their annoying audacity does is assure them that my next donation will go elsewhere.

Another must-miss offer was from a bank asking me to open a $1,000, one year CD that would pay me a whooping 1 % interest. Like I'm really going to tie up my money for a year, for a $10 profit.

Mostly I'm going crazy with coupons, rewards and discount cards. The weight of cards in my wallet and the tiny plastic ones hanging from my key chain have my arthritis rebelling. I'm considering hiring someone to carry my purse for me.

I'm afraid to shop anymore. I approach cashiers the way one might deal with a lunging vampire -- with crossed forefingers and a clove of garlic. I know by the glint in their eye that they are preparing to offer me yet another rewards card and the promise of huge savings. My instinct is to flee, or to scream, "My wallet is already bulging with so many cards, I can barely close it." But their well-rehearsed spiel usually reels me in and I leave the store feeling somewhat diminished because of my inability to resist their offer.

I have a refund card worth $14.99 credited to me for a return I made at Marshall's. The amount is not printed on it, so I wrapped the receipt around it with a rubber band. I have a similar card from Fortunoff's and another from Macy's -- all for returned items. Perkins punches a $5 hole in my card each time I eat there. Hallmark punches butterfly shaped holes when I buy greeting cards. I've got a Shop Rite supermarket discount card plus their coupon for $1.00 toward my next $100 food order. I have a Costco coupon I tried to redeem for an advertized cell phone holder, but discovered it couldn't be redeemed for another two months. What are the odds I'll remember that? Staples sends me coupons each time I spend a certain amount. Bed Bath & Beyond offers great savings monthly, with foot-long cardboard coupons. I've accumulated eleven of them so far, which adds three pounds to the weight of my purse. Charlie Brown's checks my card and gives me points every time I eat there. If I spend enough money over the year I get a $10 coupon toward a birthday meal, so long as I bring someone with me who will pay full price for their meal.

Everywhere I shop, cashiers ask if I have one of their cards. Then I hold up lines of people, breaking nails and a sweat, as I dump everything out of my purse in a frenzied search for the right plastic card to present to them.

I ask myself why I engage in this insanity -- all for a savings of a few cents. Is it really worth it? I don't think so.

Recently, a cashier at CVS offered me one of their little plastic cards to hang on my key chain. I guess she caught me at a bad time, because the next thing I knew I was banned from their store after I became unhinged, jumped onto the counter and tried to choke her.

Wait... I just noticed I have only one remaining un-punched hole on my shoemaker rewards card. I've been carrying this card with me for nine years. If I can find a pair of shoes that need resoling I'll get a free pair of shoe laces. Yippee!