barn windows.. and staying out of debt.

I was in a Big Box superstore  the other day. I try not to go into these places too often as they confuse me. This one was bigger than my wee farmy.  Much bigger. Filled with the most curious collection of useless objects.  AND it had christmas music screeching and shoving me into a scurry.  Christmas Carols In November make me want to Bite Someone’s Head Right Off!

I will tell you why I was in this Mammoth of a Store.  You know I avoid them like the plague preferring their small familiar dusty predecessors. But I was on my travels last week, and  I needed to buy a book. I cannot function unless I have a book.  Words are like my air. Books are my television. My handbag has to be big enough to contain a book, a camera,  a wallet and a lipstick.  I read every day. I read before I go to sleep, while I am waiting in a cue, on the plane, in the bus, on the train, in the car (when I am a passenger of course), I can read and walk the dog at the same time.  I can read and cook at the same time. Well, you get the picture. Now, I knew that that night I would finish my current book and I cannot sleep if I have just finished a book. I MUST start the next one first. This is just how it is.  I was slightly panicked.

So I asked Third Son to take me to the book store. He told me the bad news. Both of the BIG book stores in his city had closed recently. There were no others in the town.  No book stores at all.  We stared silently at each other for a minute. He knew that this was not good. We would have to go to one of the big bad stores, maybe they would have books, he said hopefully. 

The second Big Scary Box Store  we went to did have books, they had  twelve books as a matter of fact, and I bought the two I had not read. Did I also mention that I am not a discriminating reader. I read anything I can lay my hands on.

So I took my two books to the check out and began what I imagined would be a simple transaction. The girl sharply scanned the books and  then brightly asked did I want to sign up for a store credit card and receive eighteen percent off my current purchase?   I said to the girl, who was a cheerful blowsy wee thing with heavily made up eyes. I said,” No thank you, I only buy something if I can pay for it.” She looked at me like I was spouting Greek.

She blinked.  “But you would,” she spluttered, “with your credit card and you get eighteen percent off your current purchase”   She looked at my two little books then back to me.

“So do you want  to sign up for a credit card and receive eighteen percent off your current purchase?” she said again, more clearly this time.

” No, honey”, I told her gently “that is borrowing money.  I don’t need to borrow money. I only buy something if I have the money to pay for it.”

” Oh,” she stared hard at her  screen as though it would give her a prompt. Completely at a loss.

I said to her carefully “Why would I buy something I cannot afford.”  Someone turned the volume up on the Christmas Carols.

The skinny lady behind me in the queue, shoved her over laden cart closer to me and started the queue shuffle. I whipped my head around to her and stilled her with one of The  Looks.

“You know what I mean?” I said to the girl.  She cast panicked looks around.  “If I can’t afford it, why would I buy it?”

Skinny Lady began to loudly rummage in her handbag, bringing out her fat purse. Full of skinny credit cards no doubt.

“So you won’t be wanting to sign up for a store credit card  and get eighteen percent off  your current purchase?” the girl said hopefully.  I shook my head and tried REALLY hard not to sigh.

“That will be 18.95” she squeaked and took a deep breath. “Would you like to purchase one of our store bags for 95 cents and receive a 5 cent discount every time you shop with us again?”

Her screen prompt was not helping her. She ran out of breath.  Third Son wandered off towards the doors. The Christmas soundtrack paused between tracks.  Suddenly I felt sorry for her. Maybe she wouldn’t spend her entire life in debt. Maybe she would resist the lure of The Card held out by a faceless myopic banker who would live off her interest for the rest of her life.

I took out a twenty and gave it to her. She gave me my change, concentrating hard on the palm of my hand.  I smiled at the girl and then just for good measure I smiled slowly at the skinny lady. I jammed my new books into my handbag and turned to leave.  Though I knew perfectly well that if there had been a bell on The Girls  counter she would have been bashing at it in seconds desperately calling.  NEXT! NEXT!


PS Above is the new rake for the hay! Well, new to us. It is looking lovely in the last of the light on a lovely Thanksgiving evening.  Ni Night.  Have a lovely Green Friday tomorrow.

80 Comments on “barn windows.. and staying out of debt.

  1. So hilarious! I could see the whole thing in front of my eyes while reading, you must have totally messed with her programming, poor thing lol

    • I was just trying to make the point that credit cards are not magic. We still have to pay! And if we cannot afford to pay for it, how is a credit card going to help in the long run. thank you for commenting.. c

  2. With all due respect, a little compassion for the clerk. She is required to ask you that question. She and her manager will be in trouble if she does not. Retail clerks are required to do and say a lot of things they too find utterly idiotic — like they have to offer you that credit card up to three times — or they are in trouble. They are measured on many metrics that sensible people find absurd.

    • Thank you, my point exactly. This was her panic. Their next series of training should be how much the interest is on said credit cards so i don’t sue them when i get that bill. Like all the warnings on medications. c

  3. ‘Fraid Broadside’s right, she could have been fired for not offering it to you a certain number of times. I bought a few items of clothing before my trip, and the clerk started wrapping everything in tissue – LOTS of tissue. I said,” You don’t have to do that…” She pointed to the camera over the register, and said,”Yes, I do…they check.”
    Absurd? You bet. Annoying? That too. But they have jobs, and need to keep them.

    • It is absurd what people have to do to keep their jobs, like lots of little lost in space robots. Are these stores little police states? c

  4. Celi, we are nearly the same. I will read anything, anywhere. But I cannot start one book as soon as I have finished another – I need time in between to just savour the book a bit 🙂 (or imagine a better ending)

    • My Mother in Law always reads the last chapter twice, which I think is lovely and i should do it I should, and I agree completely about savouring the ending. But i am compulsive, like a collie with a frisbee. It is a terrible thing Tandy. c

  5. Nope, I will not have a credit card. Yes, I become totally discombobulated If I have no book on the go. Yes my current book accompanies me everywhere, including the loo. Yes, I loathe the moronic training they give those poor checkout girls. I think we are kindred spirits.

    Make sure that lovely new-ish gadget gets under cover before it rains!

    • It will be stored in the rat house, just as soon as i get john to drag the chipper out and relocate it in the big barn.. which hopefully will be this weekend.. We are kindred spirits aren’t we! c

  6. You neatly side stepped the slippery slope – beautifully put together and reminiscent of check out girls in England. As they don’t appear to have credit cards in France, cash is God, books are too expensive to buy (you’d be better off writing one as you cook or walk the dog) and the chances of being a offered a plastic bag are zero you would have no fear of similar behaviour in the “pleine campagne” in which we live. Love your words.

    • Poor girls, and interesting that france is a cash society, i think this would place a very different emphasis on transactions,a) you would buy less because you can SEE your money leaving your wallet and b) the whole dogged electronic tracking of every movement of everybody by the state would cease. When i was in Paris I did buy books with my hard earned cash and nearly went broke!! Thank you Roger.. c

      • As Roger says, Spain is still rather like France so credit cards are not a huge deal here yet. I chuckled though at all your words…no credit cards for me please and I have to start a new book as soon as I finish one. I confess to reading a chapter and mostly (I find it hard to resist) reading the last few pages just in case for some horrible reason I don´t make it to the end of a book. How odd am I?!

  7. I think the whole money, debt, credit thing is such a morass for many people, children in particular, are growing up with no understanding of how it works too often.

    I didn’t know the checkout staff are filmed, poor people. They are withdrawing tradtional cheque books completely soon here in the UK, limiting peoplle’s options, making it harder for small businesses, older folk and people who can’t remember pins and so on.

    Have you looked at e books? i am experimenting with them, haven’t made my mind up if I like them yet. 🙂

    • Wow, no cheque books, but how would you pay your bills if you did not have a computer. Or a credit card. I guess everyone would have to have a cash card then. This is what I have. I know that the ebooks will get me. But so far i feel like I am copping out if i succomb. I Hate the demise of the book shop. That is terrible. So i think I will next go to some of the smaller online books stores and get books delivered. I love OWNING books. Though miserably I cannot buy a book by its cover then, i have to think about what i am buying!! c

  8. I witnessed first-hand, albeit from a distance, the impact of big box stores in the small communities where my family resides. One by one the little shops close and with them go variety and reliable customer service. Some progress, eh?

    • And they did not need to film the check out girls either to prevent stealing or fake swipes for friends or whatever else.. and here our little towns have been decimated by the local big stores. Whole main roads are ghost towns now.. However the local people have CHOSEN to drive 30 minutes to buy their groceries rather than go to the corner and buy from the little store. People are CHOOSING to be in debt using credit cards rather than stay within their means. So really who do we blame. c

  9. I always love your ramblings, but this one is a little sad since it speaks volumes on the direction our country has taken. So sad that clerks cannot smile and make small talk – and instead have to encourage everyone to go down the credit card avenue!

    • It is true and also i discovered from another girl at that store.. they are timed, from the moment your purchases go over the belt they are timed. There is a stopwatch on them.. Surely it cannot go on. they have no choices at all.. c

  10. I bought the dog a 6 kilo bag of dry food the other day. The girl asked me if I wanted a bag. “A bag for a bag?” I asked. “No thanks.” She nodded and then asked if I wanted to buy a bag. I mean, huh? I swear, it must be something in the air because everyone I encounter lately is as dumb as a sponge. Or maybe it’s eggnog…

    • You made me laugh out loud in an empty house.. What are they like? those poor girls, maybe we should kidnap them and put them through a programme to free them from the brainwashing !

  11. The area closest to where we live is a smallish, formally sleepy and now arty part of town in a metro area (technically a separate town), and now that more folks are interested in coming to the area for the arty, locally owned shops where you know everyone by name, a big box store is moving in and will mow down a whole section of individually owned stores so that they can have parking. Our remaining local stores are threatened and this will cause more of a traffic problem and diminished property values for the neighborhood due to the change in commercial zoning. Down with Big Box Stores!

    • This is one of those scary stories, how did they manage to buy all those little businesses so they could bulldoze them.. how awful..The dreadful thing is that in 15 years they will have moved on and it will be a concrete wasteland. Out here there are piles of them, empty superstores and their weedy carparks.. I should do a series on them really.. c

      • You’re so right about 15 years down the road, Cecilia. Alas, the city government “sold out” the neighborhood and the businesses before anyone knew what was happening and could rally to stop them. They sold the center and land out from under them, forcing them to close or try and move. This is the biggest of the box stores and they seem to always get what they want. It’s criminal, really.

  12. It seems there are more and more people in the world who are turning their backs on credit and consumerism. How liberating it is. Maybe your encounter in the big box store will open someone else’s eyes.

    • I don’t know. You know i have never thought of it as turning my back on credit. I have always managed with a cash card. But that store was full to the brim with imported junk. And people are going into debt to buy it. It is mindless and very frightening. We need to take control of our own finances. Thank you bella.. c

  13. Great post, Celia. My parents are small business owners with the big W seven miles away. My Dad is relentlessly stubborn, however, and is an amazing competitor. Despite big savings, people love the familiarity and small town relationships offered in his and my mother’s shops. It’s taken his 20-something years, but he’s become his own brand of sorts and it’s the reputation that continues to bless their businesses. I cannot imagine Sam Walton carrying out people’s bags like my Dad! 🙂

    • I would shop at your dads store every time. And good for him fighting the good fight and competing. That takes guts! I love hearing stories like this.. tell him and your Mum that i think they are great! c

  14. Hooray for you, c!!! Getting out of debt and living within our means are topics that are not received well in our current age of instant gratification. As a financial coach, these are the two issues I deal with the most with the people I am coaching (along with developing a cah flow plan (budget)). PS- that is a great looking rake!

    • Oh ted you are a financial coach, good for you, that is a great job. I love budgets, when i was raising all my kids as a single mum with so LITTLE money I made a budget every week.. I used envelopes to divide up my pay, the kids and i always knew down to the last cent how much we had for treats like meat or fish and chips or a pineapple or icecream. I am terrified of debt, it would have sunk me.. c

      • We do the budget (monthly) but it is broken down into weekly amounts, and we use the cash envelope system for everything that possibly can. I didn’t learn my financial lessons until later in life (about 8 years ago), but since then we have elliminated all of our debt except our house, and we’re working hard on that.

    • Thank you wanda, I must pop over to your place and see what you are up to, I have not heard from you in a while.. c

  15. Love this. We learned the hard way about only buying what we could pay for, and a couple of things about that make me sad. One of them is how absolutely alien it is to so many of our contemporaries to not buy something we really, really want just because we don’t have the cash to pay for it. And the other is how choosing to have a smaller home, a smaller car (and only of of them!), and spending our money at those lovely, dusty, welcoming shops makes my kid’s friends think she’s poor. Still, it’s the right thing. I know it. And I would have LOVED to see you give The Look to that skinny, impatient woman. People like her make me crazy!

    • Isn’t that sad that where you shop is a statement in a young persons eyes. Though it is a wonderful choice to go smaller. I adore our little house. And our tiny car that runs on cooking oil. We are judged by these things but I am easily pigeonholed as an eccentric foreigner who does not know any better, and actually I find this quite liberating!! It is such an easy equation though isn’t. Do I have enough money for this? No? Then I cannot have it. Period. Good for you Desi, you are teaching your kids the right way.. c

  16. A great post in so many respects: promoting reading, supporting Main Street businesses, finances 101 (although we use credit cards occasionally, we always, always pay off the balance in full when the bill arrives) and showing us you are a woman who is true to herself. Well said on each point.

    • It seems such a logical point of view, and I am the age i am and have NO debt AT ALL. Only because if I can’t pay for it I can’t have it. I was taught this by my grand dad who according to my grandmother made her wait for a washing machine until he had saved up the cash to buy one. She did their washing in the bath until then, with a weird wringer thingy that attached to the sides of the bath. So if she could do it in the depression then so can I.. c

  17. It was a good post dear Cecilia… I am thinking same with you about credit cards… And how sad bookstores closed… Thank you, Have a nice weekend, with my love, nia

    • You are right about the loss of bookstores, there are two major chains here, one is gone and the other is struggling.. not good at all.. c

      • A dream… I am coming to open a new bookstore even it could be a cafe and bookstore too 🙂 Actually I have so many dreams… for a long time, I am thinking to open a cafe in Istanbul but it should be also a knitting house and also a bookstore and also a small boutique hotel for my foreign friends and to invited them to Istanbul and to be their guide in the city… Something like that, but not easy… I can’t dare to the this… Have a nice day dear Cecilia, with my love, nia

        • Do THAT! a knitting house and bookstore and a cafe .. all in the same place.. i would love that! oh and the hotel.. yes yes.. c

    • I know they make the girls say it but they shouldn’t. It is a very dangerous practice to encourage an entire population to get into debt! And I do go to the library as well. It is so funny, the other day i read a library book I had to keep, you see I like to own books. And i HAD to have this book. So I begged my Mother in Law to go into the library, (she knew the woman) and ask her if I could steal it and just pay for it!!She said YES!! .. c

  18. I agree with the library idea. But when you’re away, it’s a bit harder. I’ve put off getting a ‘tablet’ such as Amazon’s Kindle for years now, saying it’s unnatural to read from a screen. And yet I write with one – it’s called a computer – and am on one for reading as well, much of many days.

    The most unnatural thing for me is to walk amidst blaring fluorescent lights and stark merchandise nobody needs – much of it toxic and most of it from China – and it assaults my spirit in ways little else can. My husband has made gifts for those closest to us this year – as he does many years. One time it was jewelry boxes, this year it’s hand mirrors. He finds and saves rare pieces of wood for such occasions. Then we process local organic fruit in the dehydrator (some of it we grow ourselves, but as we’re just emerging from a long strech of drought, we buy some from local farmers), and ship that off as well. And I’ll pop into Ross once in awhile during the entire year to see what they have at deep discount, and snap that up for year-end gifting. They are in my mind recyclers anyway, and I can usually manage their store here on the island. Anything else in the way of big box is simply out of the question for anything but absolute necessities – oil changes, windshield fluid, computer paper.

    • I know we will one day have to give in to the tablets, but not yet, not yet.

      I love your husbands presents, Oh how wonderful to receive such a hand made guft and the mirrors sounds so divine, last year i gave framed prints, And the year before that woodcut prints. Sometimes I quilt. This year I have been in and out of second hand stores and antique shops Of course John and I will give each other FARM STUFF! For my children I put the money I would have spent into my travel account, so I can visit them, they would rather see me. c

  19. Oh my goodness Miss Cecilia.. I have to agree with you. I even got up to clap. Christmas Carolers in November is a huge no no. Let Thanksgiving pass first sheesh. Or at least wait for the first official week of December.

    • I thought I heard clapping.. I thought it was the angels!! I am so grateful that you agree about christmas in november, shall we start a protest?!! c

  20. Man! How long did I have to scroll down to write you a comment?!!
    I love your stories, and this one is no exception, I can totally picture you in that Mega Mean Store…
    Have lovely weekend.

    • I love how people can have a good old chat in the comments, there is some good reading in these ones for sure. thank you Giovanna, hope you are going to have a great saturday.. c

  21. i used to work at one of those big box stores in my home town as i was putting myself through college. management insisted that we ask everyone who came through the checkout lines if they wanted to sign up for the store credit card to save 10% on their purchase.

    i told my manager – to her face – that i refused to do that. i was not going to have people go into debt and be a slave to the lender for their purchases.

    she replied that when she was an underling like myself that if she didn’t ask, she would have been fired.

    “fine. go ahead, fire me.” i replied, turning my back on her and walking away.

    i knew i was too valuable to the company for them to fire me. (and i continued working there long after).

    (i’m like you – i need to be in the middle of a book (or two, or three) at all times.

    • Wow, good for you, that is awesome, standing up for your principles big time. Much braver than me, you put your job on the line.. I am impressed.. c

    • I think it is time we were all encouraged to dig ourselves out of the mess, and live within our means instead of pointing the finger at shadowy politicians, well shadow and shady, and finger pointing really achieves very little.. have a great weekend celia.. c

  22. I think I’d like to go shopping with you!! And after all that fun we could curl up with a good book! I’m right with you on the books…I love my books and have to them all around me so I can pick one up as soon as the urge hits! I do have several going on at once…I know, kinda crazy!! I’m curious what you think about the Kindle type books???

  23. I am not sure about kindles, as a machine though they are better than nooks.. hands down, you can also read on your ipad too. Kindles are user friendly, but I feel I need to try and support bookstores and try to keep them open. I may be only a little drop in the ocean but my favourite place on a rainy day is a book shop (preferably with coffee). And I feel comfortable with books, plus as i have confessed I love to own them and see them lined up on my shelves.. have a good weekend Spice.. c

    • I had a feeling you’d love the feeling of holding and surrounding yourself with books! I am the same; I could spend hours in a bookstore, especially the quaint little shops. No electronic reading for me…except for blog posts!

      • last night John and i decided to go out, there were no movies we wanted to see, so we went to the bookstore after dinner, instead!! What a pair! c

  24. I used to work in one of those big box stores. I’m not a fan, even though they did provide me with a paycheck for six years. It was not a good place to work, and I’d rather not shop there. That said, if I were without a book and an independent bookstore, I’d be shopping in a big box store, too. I’m the same way when it comes to reading.

    As for credit cards, I have two but always, always pay when due so that I earn the cashback bonuses. I make money on my credit cards by allowing them to loan me money. 🙂

    • Sounds like you have the credit cards sussed to work for you.. that is great, and a very good way to look at the whole deal. Well done. i never thought about it that way. c

  25. OMG. How cool to find you. I’ve missed you. Love from first daughter of second son of Connie and Ben . Lol! Taking our kids on uber roadie in 2016. Looks like we’re heading for the prairies xxxxx lots of love

    • MARIA!! Everyone this is my long lost cousin Maria the Fearless One! Welcome darling.. I shall zoom over and send you a message.. family.. i love it c

  26. Oh Cecilia! You meany. That poor girl was only trying to save you, what was it, 18% of your next purchase! LOL! John been buying YOU more gifts?! Tee hee!
    Regards Florence x
    P.S. Have a great weekend.

  27. Am totally with you on the books…..that smell of a book.How could you ever get that with a kindle? As for credit cards, dont get me started!! I was asked in a store if I wanted to take out extra warranty, I said ‘no’. I was then asked ‘How would I feel if I dropped said item and broke it as I was leaving the store and didn’t have the insurance that they were trying to sell me’? Is that not a little threatening? Oh, give me a book to calm me down!! E

  28. Darling, you *do* understand, do you not, that as a person *not* living entirely on [imaginary] credit you are a COMPLETE ALIEN to the American majority, and therefore could just as well have said “Klaatu barada nikto” to that poor trembling waif! I’m not sure whether to weep or guffaw here. So you know me, I’ll always opt for the ha-ha approach. What a telling story you’ve given us, as usual!

    PS–that baler has a positively come-hither look about it in that glorious evening light!!

  29. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

    I’ve been hearing radio ads for consumer loans … To finance Christmas present purchases. I couldn’t make this stuff up. If you need to take out a loan for gifts, you need new friends & family.

    • Christin, that is terrible. Don’t people realise how dangerous this is? And I am not so sure that people really EXPECT heaps of outrageously expensive things. I think people just feel obligated. Am i crazy? I know of families that have put a 10 dollar limit on presents and then just for kids. Such a good idea.. c

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